The enormity of that word absolutely baffles me.
Seriously, if you sit back and try and fathom the eclectic definition of a word so lonely and so final as “nothing” it starts to depress you.
The word nothing can wear many different faces. The face it wears all too often on street patrol is, “I have nothing, I have nobody.”
The weight of this didn’t strike me right away…
As most of you know I’m a police officer here in Plainfield, IN. One dispatched run in particular sticks out in my mind.
A few months back I was dispatched to a homeless guy sleeping on a picnic table behind one of the businesses in the heart of town. One of our chaplains was riding along with me.
The guy gave me his information and I verified it. Dispatch verified he didn’t have any warrants but we had no record of him. As we got talking he mentioned he didn’t have any family, any friends, literally nobody on this planet would know if he died, got sick, got hurt, or never showed up again.
As I write this the idea of being in that place is still unfathomable to me. I literally can’t comprehend it. This guy wasn’t combative, he wasn’t angry, he just was.
He just was.
Paul in Philippians 4: 10-14 is writing a thank you note for the gifts he’s received. One of my best friends, Brad, who happens to be the chaplain mentioned above, is an incredible man of God. He joked the other day, “this is quite possibly the worst thank you note ever written.”
It reads, “I rejoiced greatly in the Lord that at last you renewed your concern for me. Indeed, you were concerned, but you had no opportunity to show it. I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 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 living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through Him who gives me strength. Yet it was good of you to share in my troubles.”
The world we live in tells us contentment or being “content” is a bad thing. They often marry that word with the word “complacent.”
These are two distinctly different words.
Brad & I have unpacked this quite extensively. Paul was content in his situation. He accepted and gave thanks for the gifts. But he was content with where God had him.
What a powerful message.
After we left the homeless guy Brad said, “my heart breaks for that guy.” Upon those words leaving his lips my heart immediately broke for that guy as well.
So we circled back and caught up with him about a block later.
Then something incredible happened.
I walked up to him and said, “hey buddy, are you hungry?”
His response shocked me. He didn’t attempt to hug me, he wasn’t overly joyful or even thankful really.
He wasn’t angry or prideful that I asked.
He simply said, “if you’re offering, I wouldn’t turn it down.”
His response really shook me until I read this passage. Then it all made sense. What a beautiful depiction of contentment.
Some would argue with me that this man was defeated and not content. The space of this man’s life he allowed me to enter through conversation, while he ate, was so personal I’m choosing not to share it here out of respect of him.
It reminded me of where we should always be living.
Jesus is authoring a story in each of our lives. At times it seems like He doesn’t follow deadlines. Yet, beautifully in His timing he continues to write each word, on every page.
Trust me with the point you can always be content as long as Jesus has the pen.
I hope that meal blessed that guy. Because I know God used him to teach us a beautiful lesson.