“Whoever believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.” — John 7:38
Surrender to Contentment, by Randall D. Kittle

In our culture, there seems to be a deep-seated drive in nearly every heart to have more. A young child wants more toys, more candy, and more time before going to bed. The teenagers desire more clothes, more freedom, and more popularity. Most adults aren’t immune to this longing for more either. They want a nicer house, a newer car, a better job, and more prestige.

The Myth of More
The good news is that often we do manage to get more. But alas, the good news is only good for a limited time. We get that new car we’ve been thinking about, and as we drive it off the lot we finally feel a sense of satisfaction. But in only a few days our satisfaction begins to fade away and soon we are left feeling empty and discontented. Then the job we have always wanted opens up. It’s a wonderful opportunity with a prominent company, has great pay and incredible benefits. After brushing up our resume and going through the interviews, we finally land the job. The joy of winning the position is accompanied by the contentment of attaining such a great job. Soon, however, we discover the new position is less glorious than we had anticipated and our newfound contentment slowly lessens until it’s completely gone. Finally, we work and plan and at long last are able to buy the dream home we never thought we’d be able to afford. It’s everything we could want in a home … and more. Still, the feeling of contentment we sensed as we moved in and had our friends over to see it only lasts for a few months. After that, we are back wondering what can fill this void we feel inside that never seems to stay satisfied.

Our culture has bought into a lie called “the myth of more” — thinking that having more of something will make us happy. “
I would be content if I just had a little more moneyI would be content if I just got that promotion … I would be content if I just got married.” However, we never quite reach that place of contentment. We are always looking for something just a little beyond what we have. Don’t buy into the lie that you are just one purchase, one income bracket, one promotion, one relationship, one accomplishment, or one thrilling experience away from true fulfillment. God wants you to know that “more” can never satisfy the longing of your heart. More will never be enough.

Contentment seems to be something so many strive to attain, and yet so few seem able to possess. Even those who reach their goals to have more find the feeling of contentment fades away. Why? In Isaiah 55:2, God asks,
“Why spend money on what is not bread and why spend your labor on what does not satisfy.” Many of the things people turn to trying to find contentment cost them a great deal of money and yet they’re still not satisfied. The reason so many people are unfulfilled in their lives, the reason they can’t keep contentment, is because they are doing exactly what this verse says — they are looking for life in all the wrong places. They continue trying to find satisfaction in things, adventures, or relationships. As a result, they will continue to live empty and unfulfilled lives.

Desiring God
There are certain things that only God can give … and contentment is one of them. Contentment means “to be sufficient, to be enough, to be full.” God Himself is the complete and sufficient One. He, alone, is full beyond measure. Contentment, therefore, can only be found when our lives “contain” God. Augustine wrote, “You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it rests in you.” For our hearts to be at rest and our lives to stay content, what we truly need is Jesus Christ at the center of our lives. Is He truly the desire of your life? If He is, God will give you your heart’s desire and you will find that you have found the contentment the world cannot possess.

Unless Jesus is the center, unless God has first place, you will never live a life of lasting satisfaction. When we boil it all down, we see that contentment is all about desire.
The problem is not that our desire for other things is too strong, but rather that our desire for God is too weak. Contentment, therefore, is to say with Asaph in Psalm 73:25, “Whom have I in heaven but You? And there is none upon earth that I desire besides You.” In other words, “I have no more desires on this earth since I have You.” Are you able to say that? Are you able to say, “Lord, if You want to give me more, great. If you don’t want to, fine. It doesn’t matter, because I have found my contentment in You”?

The Great Shepherd
Contentment comes from knowing the Lord, not just as an acquaintance, but in an intimate, ongoing relationship. He must not only be your Savior; He must truly be your Lord. Unless our lives are centered on Christ, He is not Lord of our lives — and without lordship He cannot be the Great Shepherd of our lives. As believers, we are able to feel content because we are sheep in God’s pasture and the Lord is our Great Shepherd who carefully watches over us. Think about how safe and content a sheep feels as their shepherd tenderly looks after them.

Knowing Jesus as the Good Shepherd is important for living a satisfying life. Your
Savior will get you to Heaven, but it is your Shepherd who will give you the guidance and direction you need on earth. When you are in a relationship with the Lord in which you say, “The Lord is my Shepherd,” you can also say with David, “I shall not want” (Psalm 23:1). In fact, only the person who has said, “The Lord is my Shepherd” can also say, “I shall not want.” This verse shows us that not wanting things doesn’t come from possessing a lot of things, but from knowing our Great Shepherd. Our contentment does not come from what we have. It comes from Whom we know. Hebrews 13:5 tells us, “Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.’ ” Jesus Christ, the good Shepherd, will never leave His sheep. He holds out His arms to His sheep and says, “Don’t try to find contentment in anything else … simply come to Me.”

Surrender for Contentment
It has been said that contentment is the test that reveals surrender. This is because without surrender to Christ it is not possible to have contentment. Surrender is the only pathway for making Jesus the Lord and Shepherd of your life. Therefore, if we truly want to know contentment, we will need to know surrender. In the kingdom of God, relationship with God is established and grows out of surrender to His will and His ways, and the surrender God is looking for is nothing less than unreserved, complete surrender.

Unconditional Surrender
There is a story about Britain’s great eighteenth century naval hero, Lord Horatio Nelson, that illustrates the importance of completely surrendering to God. While the British admiral was best known for his brilliance and dedication to his duties, he was also noted for his courtesy and kindness toward those he defeated. On one occasion, a defeated admiral, with his sword at his side, strode across the deck of his ship to meet Admiral Nelson. The defeated admiral extended his hand out to surrender to the British admiral. Lord Nelson looked at him but would not immediately shake his hand. Instead he nodded and said, “Your sword first, then your hand.”

This is what our Heavenly Father says to us. He wants to give us the gift of contentment and to care for us as our Great Shepherd, but first He requires us to surrender our lives completely to Him. We must give God our heart and our will first, and then He will extend His hand of friendship, giving us rest for our restless hearts and an abiding contentment in our souls. If we will humbly and completely surrender to the lordship of Jesus, He will be with us like the faithful Shepherd He is. Choose this day to surrender your life completely to Jesus’ lordship. If you do, you will find that knowing Him will be more than enough to satisfy your soul. He will be your Shepherd and, as you come to know Him more, you “shall not want,” for your heart will be satisfied in Him!

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