Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Mud + Water: The attributes of God

At Oak Island, everything but the wind and water is quiet and still. Today I discovered nothing opens until after 10:00AM. The streets are vacant in Southport and if you want to do some thrifting at 9, well, you're going to have to sit on a bench and watch the fishermen fish until it all opens and comes to life. Mornings are slow here, and they are certainly rich. 

One morning, an old man met us walking on the beach and was eager to show us a picture of an old washed up alligator on his phone. "I walk along this beach every morning and I've never seen anything like it! It's just five miles that way... if you want a good thrill this morning, you should walk down that way and see for yourself." I was struck by this man, not because of the odd picture or his eagerness to tell us something he found most thrilling, but because he seemed to be content. Every morning, this man walks beside the ocean. He has a time for quiet, perhaps a time for reflection. It's easy for me to view my own life and think, well sure. I'd be content too if I were moments away from this vast ocean. Then I'd really have that space for quiet and prayer. But that's just not the case. I don't have this life.  But then I remember Paul's words on the mystery of contentment, and I know that the worldly chase for happiness is never at rest in our sinful hearts, because a coveting spirit desires what God has not given to us. We are discontent, and we long for more. 

but... He is faithful.. and He is merciful. He is righteous, slow to anger, abounding in steadfast love, just, and compassionate. When we name the wonderful attributes of God, our coveting spirit and our "not enough" attitude is revealed for what it is: a lie. 

John Piper's words say it all: "God is most glorified when we are most satisfied in him." On this faith journey, we are constantly seeking to know our creator more and to know His character. When we dive into the mystery of His character, we see clearer the magnitude of who He is and our glorious purpose in Him. When we meditate on the attributes of God and seek to be like Him, God's character is revealed in us, and our contentment brings Him Glory. 

These tiny epiphanies of christian discontentment have been unveiled to me on this sleepy island, all because I am reading The Secret of Contentment by William Barcley.  His study on contentment is slowly but surely stretching me, encouraging me to strip away the mindset of  "not enough" and a murmuring, discontented spirit, and to remind me that contentment is the duty, glory, and excellence of the Christian. 

Let your life cling to these words, friends, as we seek to add to our list of the righteous attributes of our God, and as we proclaim with thankful hearts that our God desires abundant life for His people...

Theologians refer to self-sufficiency as one of God's attributes. God is not dependent on anyone or anything outside of himself. He is fully self-sufficient. 
Now, we need to recognize that God is the Creator; we are creatures. We will never be self-sufficient in the way that God is. God has made us dependent beings - dependent on God first and foremost, dependent on others, dependent on other aspects of God's creation for survival. 
Yet, to the extent that we achieve the "self-sufficiency" described in Philippians 4, we reflect in a small way this one aspect of the being of God. As our self-sufficiency reflects God's self-sufficiency, God's character is revealed in us. To put it differently, our contentment brings glory to God.  
 - William Barcley, The Secret of Contentment

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"Pleasant words are [like] honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones." Proverbs 16:24