by Adam Kronberger / Superintendent
On a recent errand trip around town with my 4th grade son, he remarked how he wished Salem had less evergreen trees. He was greatly enjoying all of the autumn colors developing on the deciduous trees, and thought it would be great for there to be even more color. I reminded him that once all the autumn colors had fallen to the ground, the evergreen trees provide color for the next six months. He finally agreed that the Willamette Valley has a nice balance of color and tree diversity.
After spending hours of time picking up leaves around my house later in the day, I began to think that perhaps we needed less deciduous trees. It seems that having more evergreen trees would only make my life easier, especially when it seems that “fall” goes into February before the last leaf finally hits the ground. I am grateful that man discovered the power of electricity and developed affordable leaf blowers.
It is a common temptation to wish for circumstances that are more favorable toward our preferences or comfort. Each day can be a battle to walk according to the Spirit or according to the flesh. Discontentment is one of the manifestations of the flesh, while true contentment is the foundation for longer strides with the Lord. As the apostle Paul committed the second half of his life to serving God and furthering the gospel, he experienced the extremes of earthly happiness and tribulation. When he wrote “I have learned in whatever situation I am in to be content,” (Phil. 4:11), he became a role model for all of us as he experienced a full range of circumstances. He goes on to write, “I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need.” (vs 12). The “secret” is simply choosing to trust God’s sovereignty in our lives with gratefulness. Jesus Christ has paid the price for our sins and is preparing an eternal home for those who put their trust in him. All the pleasures of this world are simply undeserved gifts, while the uncomfortable challenges of life point us back to the love and redemption provided by our Heavenly Father.
As humans have explored and discovered God’s creation, we can now explain why leaves of certain trees change color and fall to the ground, while evergreen needles can last through the winter. But the quest to explain life itself, along with the beauty and order of all creation is fruitless without the existence of a powerful and mysterious God. In the same way, choosing contentment in the face of life’s hardships can often seem fruitless without the presence of a powerful and mysterious God. Paul’s “secret” is not a simple definition but a simple commitment to trust daily in a God who knows how to bring life to what is dead. He does it every spring.
– Adam Kronberger / Superintendent