Paul’s Recipe for “Good Enough”

I have never been around a group of people who can subsist for so long on so little as Cowboys. They can make do in any situation with the fewest tools and the least amount of supplies. There is a certain amount of resiliency and resourcefulness that drives the cowboy mentality.  I was helping in the roping chute at the Christian Youth Rodeo in North Topeka recently, when the barrier setup broke. The rubber stopper on the barrier was pulled through the eyelet and drug down the arena with the calf. Upon retrieval, it was noticed that the stopper wasn’t going to work. One of our judges, with the help of some of the dads, began to remedy the situation. The first thing needed was balin’ wire. It has been said that no toolbox is complete without “balin’ wire, WD-40, and Duct tape.” If it moves and shouldn’t use the duct tape or balin’ wire. If it doesn’t move and should, use the WD-40. The foundation of every cowboy fix-er-upper’s process usually involves one of these three items. With wire in hand, our judge, pulled out the exact size wrench for the job. (I can’t even do that changing my oil with 2 wrenches in the toolbox.) He carries around a half-inch wrench in his back pocket because “that fits everything I own”. Simple words.   A minute in a half later, the barrier was fixed and the rodeo resumed with a wire tied barrier. I was there this week, barrier still on and working. At our next rodeo there, in mid-July, that balin’ wire supported barrier will still be working. It will probably stay through the PRCA rodeo and on into next year because most cowboys understand the idea of “good-enough.” It works, it’s sufficient, and it does the job…its “good-enough.”

When I would run fence with my grandpa, I used to always tell him that when I grew up and had a ranch, my fence was going to be good-looking. Grandpa’s was rusted out, held up by old hedge posts with non-matching T posts (gasp). It was often fixed with pliers and wire (there it is again) and seldom was there not one loose wire. But it was good enough too keep cows in and good enough for Grandpa. He also drove an old-old-ford truck well past the time when he could afford a new one because his truck was good enough. But the three speed on the column, 25-year-old truck, with a ton of miles on it, still wasn’t to be trusted in my hands. He was the one who first introduced me to the phrase “good enough”.

I struggle with “good enough”. The understanding that what I have was enough to get me through yesterday, will be enough for tomorrow, and will get me through today. In scripture the word is “contentment”: a word that I struggle with. The feeling of joy and satisfaction based upon the promises and activity of God within my life and those around me, is something that escapes me often. I could list off 50 blessings in the life of a friend, but overlook the ones in mine. I can see great things in the lives of my friends, observe their facebook pictures and status’, and feel emptiness in my gut, knowing that I don’t have the things they do. Contentment is something that God desires for us.

When it comes to life and circumstances, Paul understood “good enough”. As I worked through 2 Corinthians and noticed that Paul took a detour [2 Cor.8.1-8] and bragged about the Macedonian Church (the Church at Philippi, Thessalonica, and Berea), I wanted to find out what made that Church so special that Paul would brag about it. I’m convinced that contentment is one of the qualities. I sat down to figure out contentment and thought it would be easier to communicate what it wasn’t. It isn’t worry, jealousy, envy or greed. I is a far cry from gluttony and anxiousness. But if its not all this…then what is it?

Contentment is “good enough”. The problem is that “enough” is a moving target. “Enough” is a very fluid term. With the economy the way it is, the job market, the instability of this world, enough is a scary thought. Paul, in the last part of Philippians, gives his recipe for “good enough”.

 “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.  I can do everything through him who gives me strength. [Phil. 4.12-13]

It was the strength Christ, given to Paul through his relationship with Him, that gave Paul strength through all of the trials of 2 Cor. 11.16-33.   Earlier in Philippians 4, Paul commanded the church at Philippi to not “be anxious about anything” [Phil 4.6]. If I was Paul, there are a lot of things that would worry me, but his relationship with the Lord, through prayer and petition, rid his thinking of anxious thoughts. He gave the church some things to think about later on in the chapter [verses 8-9], but what his prayer life did give him was peace. The peace of God, which surpasses understanding, protected his heart and mind. [Phil 4.7] In the ancient world, the heart and the mind were synonymous. The heart was the place where thoughts, will, and emotions were set in place.

Contentment then, according to Paul, is a thought process that reveals itself through our lives. To be content we must first and foremost engage in an intimate relationship with our Heavenly Father and allow him to give us peace. A peace which silences the shouts of this world, gives tranquility to tumultuous wills and desires, and provides focus to the identity that God has bestowed in contradistinction to the identity we look for in others. The peace of God overrides these things as it goes beyond our own thinking. Our thinking often tells us we need more and better. The peace of God tells us we have all we need in him and that is “good enough”.

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