I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. Philippians 4:12
So many of us have struggled with the tension of learning this secret. This truth is a guiding principle for being a missionary. The key word in this verse is "learned." To learn takes time, instruction, and learning experiences.
For me, this verse isn't about money or resources. I use it to apply to uprooting your life and trying to find it again in another cultural setting. I believe that there is a KEY to learning how to be content in every situation. That key is to acclimate.
Acclimate usually means to adjust to a climate or temperature. That really takes time and experience. Coming from the United States culture, I constantly feel internal pressure to efficiently use time and other resources. This creates a tension in the process of acclimating. To acclimate, one has to slow down, absorb, reflect, and make adjustments to thinking patterns, life habits, and personal values. What makes me tick? How does that conflict with the culture I live in and what adjustments do I have to make? Where do I get my self-identity from? If I can't accomplish my goals, will I feel like a failure? How do I view time? Is it a resource that can never be recovered? Or, can I wait until tomorrow to find that time again?
Acclimation is about learning how to live in the tropics and how to live contentedly within a tropical society. This is the process that we're engaged in now, as we: 1. study language and culture, 2. build a sustainable family life, and 3. help bring the gospel to Filipino people. Please pray for us.
“Be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding, so that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him.” Wisdom is to know God’s truth and apply it to all of your life situations. To walk worthy of Jesus means to live a daily lifestyle that reflects Jesus Christ. Jesus doesn’t save someone from Hell only. He saves that person from their sinful lifestyle and its eternal consequences. Jesus is a package deal, so the gift of eternal life always includes a new daily life. A Christian is saved from a me-lifestyle and empowered to live a lifestyle that reflects the values and characteristics of Jesus.
This changes everything! This impacts all of your lifestyle choices. This impacts what you spend your time, money, and family resources on. This changes who you date, who teaches your children, where you work, where you live. If you truly live a life that matches up to how Jesus would live it, you have to crucify your own aspirations and conform them to Christ’s aspirations.
Last thing: The kingdom of Jesus Christ is spreading across the globe through changed lives. When a sinful lifestyle is replaced by an everyday Jesus-lifestyle, a little piece of Satan’s kingdom has been replaced forever by Christ’s kingdom. As soldiers in the advance of the kingdom of Jesus, we are constantly faced with the decision of whether we’ll surrender our futures for a future of extending the kingdom one soul at a time. Say with Joshua, “as for me and my family, we will serve the Lord.”
If you’re a Christian, you’re part of this. It is a daily conquest! You will have everything that you need, when you pursue this lifestyle: humility, hope, faith, joy, friends, success, and you will have Christ.
How do I know God's will for my life? There are times when that question is the last thing on my mind. And, in other periods of my life, it's all that I think about. For the past year, I've asked God repeatedly to shine His light onto my path so I can take the next step. And, He has... at just the right time. So, how do I know God's will? Here are my thoughts on how you can know God's unique plan for your life.
Study the Bible daily to build a Biblical pattern of thinking. Know the mind of God through His word well enough to be able to apply it. You are a child of God. Do you know what Dad would do in each situation that presents itself? Would Dad go into debt? Would Dad leave His family to work overseas? Would give His kids stability? If the current situation isn't working, what would your Dad in Heaven do? What kind of vehicle would Dad buy? Would Dad work on Sunday? How would Dad prepare His children to become missionaries in their areas of talent? What would Dad spend His time thinking about? As a child of God, you have the family resemblance. You instinctively know your family culture.
Have a plan that you've prayed about and discussed at length with your spouse and/or family. What are your talents, gifts and passions? What makes the most sense for your long-term future? What steps can you take now to prepare you for that future? They say that God can't steer a parked car. Look into the future, set some realistic goals and start prayerfully working towards them. As you do this, God will direct your steps.
Don't be afraid to think like a leader, and at the same time listen to the leaders that God has given you. It's really that simple! And, pray!
Finally, listen to hear what God is telling you as you read His word, pray, and wait quietly for Him to speak. He will speak, either in your heart, through providence, or through His word. You will know the next step at the right time. God never contradicts the Bible, wait for His clear voice of Truth regarding your situation. If you really don't have clarity, keep being productive in your current situation. And, pray until you get the answer for upcoming changes.