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    by Susan McGrath

The Art of Contentment
Date Posted: August 14, 2008

Our school has a wonderful art teacher; she is fun, creative and even dresses the part and sings silly songs with the kids. More importantly, she makes each child feel like they are a born artist, and their work reflects it. She is teaching them the art of contentment; not that each is a master artist by the standards of the world, but that each is the only artist who can be uniquely that student.

I feel so blessed that my children can have a teacher who will show them each step, yet encourage them to create from their own hearts. I remember dreading art each week when I was in grade school because I was taught from a technical, formal perspective. I was not good at it, I knew I was not good at it and I never believed I could do anything well artistically for many years.

On the flip side, my children bring home such beautiful, bright creations, which reflect them perfectly, that I have several framed and hanging in my office.

The attitude and approach makes all the difference in how the artist feels and in the outcome of the project. The approach I was taught was legalistic and left no room for personal differences. The approach my children are learning is to work from the heart and color outside the lines.

As I sat contemplating a picture my six-year-old had drawn of himself playing basketball, I realized my spiritual life needs to be as colorful and creative. I cannot allow myself to be bound by legalism as the Pharisees were who had no joy in the law, and couldn't see the Messiah standing right in front of them.

I must strive to enjoy life in Christ, loving Him above all and serving Him and others. What a simple way to please our Lord, yet we bind ourselves with do's and don'ts, and allow rifts within the fellowship over matters of opinion.

Sometimes I question why I am so caught up in trying to be like a Christian friend or church member who has inspired or encouraged me. Am I not to grow into the spiritual person that God designed uniquely to do His work? Can I not be content with who I am and how God is leading and growing me? I mean, if Paul could be content in prison . . . oops! There I go again, comparing my self to someone else.

I am free in Christ, a child of God, guided by the Holy Spirit - how can I not produce good works as long as I'm longing and striving to serve the Lord and love those around me?

Meticulously attempting to follow every command in scripture and never feeling like I measure up certainly will not produce contentment and is not what God had in mind for us under his new covenant.

As 1 Timothy 6:6 reminds us, "But godliness with contentment is great gain." Paul then goes on to remind us that material things can gain us nothing - we can't take them with us when we die. But, he reminds Timothy (and us) "flee from all this and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness. Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses." - 1 Timothy 6:11-12.

This week I my goal is to take hold of that eternal life, that precious gift from God. That is the art of contentment!

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Biography Information:
Susan McGrath is:

a recovering journalist trying to encourage others and glorify God through writing;

living the small-town life with husband Tim and sons Lincoln, 12, and Sawyer, 6;

completing a few put-off writing projects while using chocolate for therapy.
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