There seems to be a general consensus among people that times are hard and will likely get harder. People are fearful and dissatisfied. Some who are awake to the fragile nature of our world are frantically provisioning for all sorts of real and imagined calamities. While it’s good to prepare, our best preparations are not in things. They are in us.
This is illustrated in a book I finished just last evening. Unbroken is the true story of Louie Zamperini–a juvenile delinquent-turned-Olympic runner-turned-Army hero. It tells of his horrendous suffering as a castaway on the Pacific and in Japanese POW camps, of deprivation, hatred, redemption and his resilient, unbroken spirit. I awoke peacefully this morning thinking of a journal entry I made several years ago. I had completely forgotten and was surprised to find a second notation about a dream I had where I too was an Olympic runner. Funny how much the subconscious mind remembers and connects when all is lost to the conscious mind. Here are some excerpts from my journal.
3/24/2009 – Journal Entry
I have a new favorite scripture.
Philippians 4: 11-13
Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.
I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.
I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.
As our family read this passage, I was inspired by Paul’s strength and courage in a Roman prison – for 5 years.
We had a wonderful discussion about what it was that made Paul so strong in the face of deprivation of everything that normal people hold dear – especially his freedom. It strikes me that the last verse holds a key.
Paul asserts with infinite confidence that he can do all things. What caught my attention was the why and how of that strength. I noticed that in the King James Version it does not say, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Instead, it says which strengthens me. The antecedent that which refers to is doing through Christ. By doing His will, acting on His eternally wise counsel, we are strengthened. Paul emphasizes an important part of that counsel when he says he has learned to be content in whatever state he finds himself. In modern terms, “happiness is not in having what you want, it’s in wanting what you have”.
I am filled with His Spirit, His strength and His peace most, not when I am on my knees begging for it, but rather when I am doing my best to do and be as He counsels…. then I am strong, capable and confident that I can do, be and withstand all things. In those moments, a deep sense of peace distills upon me and I am happy regardless of what is going on around me.
Some one hundred years ago it was determined that the average American had about 70 wants, things he desired to have. A similar survey was taken of his grandson and he had nearly 500 wants on his list and today, I’m sure that number is even higher. Why? Because people are not content in what they have!
10/9/2009 – Journal Entry
In the past few months I haven’t thought much about this scripture.
Last night I had a strange, vivid, unusually coherent and powerful dream that seemed to last most of the night. I dreamed I was in the Olympics as a sprinter and surprisingly (as I dislike running and have no talent for it) won a medal. After the race, there was a great deal of pomp and confusion. We were dressed in regal clothes with lots of patriotic emblems and medals representing our athletic accomplishments. We were taken to special stores where we could buy more commemorative stuff and shuttled about for photo op’s and interviews. At one point the whole group was asked to think hard and come up with 100 short quips about goal setting that could inspire others.
In my dream, I came up with only one statement. It was “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me”.
Paul was right. Self-Sufficiency is not about physical preparation as much as it is about spiritual and mental preparation. We must learn to be at peace, strong, contented in whatever state we find ourselves. A wise man once said, “If ye are prepared, ye shall not fear”. Prepare your state of mind by wanting less.