If you’ve been following me on this search for the next perfect spot just over the horizon, you may think that I’m leading up to a killjoy quote or philosophy. That I’ll say, “stop and smell the roses,” “bloom where you’re planted” or “be thankful for what you have” instead of dreaming and aspiring to new heights. Or even quote the Apostle Paul from his letter to the church at Philippi, “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 well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.” Philippians 4:11-12.
Notice that even Paul acknowledges the fact that contentment is learned. Paul was passionate, adventurous, and driven and I think that he’s saying that the hard knocks from the seasons of life are great teachers in the art of finding joy in the moment.
So how do we balance the aspiring spirit that we all seem to possess with the need to experience joy in the now? I’m learning, like Paul that aspiration and contentment don’t have to be mutually exclusive. Seasons of life taught me that. (That’s a kinder way of saying “when you get old you just know stuff.”)
Anyway, here are some quotes from adventurous men who seem to be on either side of this issue. Or are they? You decide.
Sir Francis Drake, the great explorer of the Elizabethan era wrote this prayer:
“Disturb us, Lord, when
We are too pleased with ourselves,
When our dreams have come true
Because we dreamed too little,
When we arrived safely
Because we sailed too close to the shore.
“Disturb us, Lord, to dare more boldly,
To venture on wilder seas
Where storms will show Your mastery;
Where losing sight of land,
We shall find the stars.”
Jim Elliot, the missionary to Ecuador who was murdered with four others when they tried to minister to the indigenous tribes there wrote:
“Let not our longing slay the appetite of our living”
And my favorite:
“Wherever you are, be all there.”
A few days ago I was looking at the roses growing in my front yard with my 3-year-old granddaughter, Brileigh. She wanted to pick the roses and bring them inside so we could smell them everyday. I warned her that just beneath the beautiful flowers were hurtful thorns. There was a risk of getting stuck if we plucked the roses barehanded. She wasn’t convinced at first. She had to try it herself. We finally decided to enjoy the roses outside.