On Contentment (Living Here instead of There): Dean Chia (’11)

During our time at Templeton Honors College, we were encouraged to explore new things. But we must not think that all exploration is the same. Exploration can sometimes be borne out of dissatisfaction and a thirst for novelty, and sometimes it can be borne out of love, contentment, and a desire for greater intimacy (or perhaps more commonly a mixture of these motives).

How do we live our lives? Do we seek to discover new things and then move on once those new things are no longer “new”? Are we a locust swarm, consuming things in an attempt to sate an insatiable hunger? It may be that in our work or in our studies, we strive for more and refuse to stop until we reach “the top,” wherever or whatever it is. And when we finally reach this “top,” we begin itching to push through what we now perceive as a ceiling in search of something “higher” or “better.” Whether financially, relationally, academically, or career-wise, we may be in a cycle of endless pursuit of a there, always feeling trapped in here. We covet a there we can never reach. For when we think we have finally arrived “there,” it has already become here, and off we go looking for another tantalizing there.

Perhaps we need to slow down and settle down in the here wherein God has placed us. Like a good and wise gardener, he has planted us all in the exact place he would have us planted for as long as he wishes us to remain there. Do we believe this and trust that he is good and knows what he is doing? Are we willing, by his grace, not to covet what is over there but instead explore and search for God’s hidden treasures here?

For even here God has hidden so many things waiting to be discovered by us and to bring us joy that exploration need not ever cease. But such discovery may require contentment in the here in which God has placed us. Contentment and gratitude may be the corrective lens needed to see all the riches God has placed near and around us here. We must be thankful God has placed us here, where we are, not there. He may very well take us there eventually. But when he plants us there, there will become here, and so we ought always to rejoice and be thankful for the here where God places us, lest in hankering for the unattainable treasures there we miss the treasures God has in store for us here.

And what treasures we have here! For in Christ, we already have here all the spiritual blessing there in the heavenly places. Through Christ, the heavenly blessings of there are brought here, and we have through his blood reconciliation with the God who owns both here and there (and indeed everywhere). If we meditate on these truths, how might we approach our learning, our conversations with others, our work and duties when we rest in contentment and gratitude here instead of hankering for there? May we be unceasing in praying to our God who alone is able to give us true rest and joy. If we study, learn, and work in a spirit of contentment, will we not encounter much wonder and awe? How pleasing then would our work and our study be to God, and how fulfilling would they be to us, body, mind, and soul?

Dean Chia graduated from the Templeton Honors College in 2010 with a degree in Mathematics. He is currently working as a pastoral intern at Proclamation Presbyterian Church, where he happily worships and is a doctoral student in Old Testament studies at Westminster Theological Seminary. He wrote this post from his laptop running Debian GNU/Linux and LibreOffice. He loves to talk about free and open-source software. He has a blog for which he does not faithfully write or update: brutusfacticus.wordpress.com.

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