Friday, March 4, 2011

Books for the Wait: Calm My Anxious Heart Part II

There are some good, helpful books in this world written by authors who want to explore an idea. So they objectively posit it, analytically take it apart, then put it back together again inviting the reader to learn something new along the way. This is not one of those books.

Calm My Anxious Heart chronicles Linda Dillow's own journey learning contentment in the midst of trying circumstances. As she observes, speaking of a missionary role model, "Ella possessed a soul sufficiency, a peace separate from her circumstances. Most of us base our contentment on our circumstances. However, true contentment is separate from our circumstances. Contentment is a state of the heart, not a state of affairs." (Dillow, 12. Italics in original.)

The first half of the book examines and uproots typical sources of contentment: our circumstances, ourselves, our roles, our relationships, and western cultural norms  like ease and sufficiency and control. The second half of the book focuses on trusting God with: the "What Ifs," the "If Onlys," and the "Whys" of our earthly lives. It closes with a 12-week Bible study, if like me, you find yourself drawn in and want to explore more.

Dillow's chapters are short and broken up by topic headings which make it easy to digest in pieces; it doesn't require sustained reading/thinking time. However the morsels you take away will give you plenty to mentally chew on. Like this one, her meditation on Psalm 16:5, "Lord, you have assigned me my portion and my cup; you have made my lot secure:"

Let's go back to our tea analogy. God has lovingly assigned  each of us to be a uniquely special tea cup....

Then God fills our cup with our portion, what He determines best. Our portion is our physical and emotional being, our abilities, circumstances, roles and relationships.

Sometimes we don't like what's been poured into our cup. Remember the Lord Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane? When He saw the suffering He was about to endure, He pleaded, "Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will but yours be done" (Luke 22:42). Christ grasped the handle of His cup and lifted it to God and said,"I accept my portion. Infuse me with your strength that I may drink."

Every cup --whether dainty china  or rough-hewn pottery --has a handle. God has placed our portion in our cup. We either choose to grasp it by the handle and lift it to him saying, "I accept my portion; I accept this cup," or we chose to smash our cup to pieces, saying "God I refuse my portion. This cup is not the right size for me and I don't like what you've put in it. I'll control my life myself ." (Dillow, 16-17)

"Contentment," Dillow summarizes,"is accepting God's sovereign control over all of life's circumstances." (Dillow, 16). If that idea is a mug that warms your spiritual fingers when you wrap them around it, Dillow's book will redirect you toward God's sufficiency in the midst of the present circumstances trying your soul, no matter what those circumstances are.

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