I'm inspired by some of the dramatic commercials on TV and the posts on Facebook, but I must admit that most of the time I don't remember what they were advertising! I see analogies everywhere through them and use them as grist for my writing ideas. Even Snoopy dog has something wise to teach me as in a cartoon where he is reclining on top of his dog house with the caption, "Don't let what you can't do interfere with what you can."
Like the commercial about the man on the golf course. He admits that he is bad at golf. Nevertheless he adds, “But I'd like to keep being bad at golf as long as I can.”
Or similar ones about the lady hiking in the lowlands with a backpack and addressing the camera, “I accept that I'm not the mountain climber that I used to be, but I'm still going for my best.” It's echoed in another commercial showing a fisherman standing in shallow waters and fly fishing. “I'm not out deep sea fishing anymore, but I'm still doing what I love to do.” On it goes. I think we get the point.
The years fly rapidly by and I find myself a nonagenarian. So let me be realistic and apply it to myself. I, who have always been the one in control of myself and my circumstances and my abilities, have to seriously begin pacing myself. I need to, albeit reluctantly, cut back on my activities and especially my expectations of myself. Not regress but simply cut back.
I express it by the fingers of both hands: On one hand I use my five fingers for five words to remind myself: “I can't do this anymore.” And on the other hand, those five fingers contradict the other hand and declare: “But I can still do this!” Like the hiker not able to scale Mount Everest anymore, and the persistent golfer and the fisherman in the commercials above —I have a list of things that both of my “speaking” hands represent. But it takes both hands together to applaud. Therein is contentment.
It's okay. “I accept that I can't do (some things) anymore. I also accept that there is much, sometimes of a different nature, that I can still do” to please God and accomplish His purpose for my life while I'm in my calendar-challenged years. That's the natural way God planned for the advancing seasons of life. We have our prime seasons when we feel invincible and the world is at our disposal, the sky is the limit, and our energy is boundless. There seems to be nothing that I can't do. When that has to be scaled down, it doesn't diminish our worth to God or affect His love for us or His pleasure in us. “To everything there is a season” and the seasons of nature are different from one another, as are the seasons of a man's and woman's life. To accept that is contentment.
I have a lot to learn yet, as did the Apostle Paul. He was always learning to live through contrasts and go with the flow of life and whatever God was taking him through. He always seemed to be hitting speed bumps to slow him down. So he learned to be content in want and also to abound; to be lauded and applauded, also to be persecuted and beaten; to be young and zealous, and to experience the weakness of aging; to be welcomed and to be rejected; to be mobbed by crowds and to suffer the loneliness of imprisonment; to doing the teaching himself and teaching others to carry the torch after him.
Shouldn't we, as God's beloved children, as we live out our lives “in Christ,” learn our lessons well in the vicissitudes of life? Let's ride the waves of our sometimes diminishing strength and encountering our seemingly narrowing opportunities.
We have Jesus as the Pilot of our life ship and He knows where the small speed bumps and and also where the hidden icebergs are, or as the hymn writer put it, “hiding rocks and treacherous shoals.”
I'm back to learning again the lessons of the Serenity prayer: to change what I can still change; to accept what I can't change; and to pray for wisdom to sort out the difference. That is contentment! That is peace and serenity. Help, Lord!