Reading Reflection:

The Envy of Eve, Melissa B. Kruger (Christian Focus, 2012) When I first moved into my home here in WV, I planted some mums in my side flowerbed. I was eager to have their beautiful fall colors greet me, my family, and guests as we drove up the driveway. But I didn’t realize the work they would require. Mums tend to want to flower before their best peak season, so it is important to monitor and dead head these bushy plants. This can be quite time consuming. Also, I discovered that mums spread like weeds. My flowerbed was being overtaken. Finally, I had enough. I didn’t really care to have them bossing around my flowerbed any longer. If I wanted to enjoy fall mums, I decided to give them potted boundaries. But when I began to dig those stubborn guys up, I discovered the very integrated, vine-like root system they had weaved. I diligently worked hard to get them all. That was at least 6 years ago, and as I’m writing this, I am facing my continuous battle with the mums that will not go away! As I was reading this great book, I kept thinking about those mums. Many times we work on the outer symptoms of our inordinate desires, but we just can’t remove that covetous heart. Kruger definitely met my expectations in a book that aims at Finding Contentment in a Covetous World. She identifies the heart of the matter, and presents the pattern of coveting as found in Scripture and our own lives: see, covet, take, and hide. My favorite part of the book was the concluding thoughts. I just love it when conclusions are concluding thoughts, rather than just a summary of what I’ve already read. Kruger vulnerably shares an incident of her own struggling that she recently experienced after having written her manuscript. A friend emailed her to share the good news of a long-awaited longing that had been fulfilled. While Kruger was happy for her friend’s blessing, she also was struggling with a similar situation that had not been providentially met by the Lord. Inevitably, she found herself crying inside her car. The way she personally shared this process made all that she had written before much more powerful. I had been reading the book, wondering how this writer had come to such a grand place of contentment that I may never reach (Is that coveting her contentment?). But by sharing her struggle, she modeled her teaching in practice. I will share it with you:
My initial response to my circumstances was focused on what was lacking in my earthly situation. I had forgotten the riches of my heavenly situation. I had also failed to remember Christ’s words to his disciples on the eve of His death: ‘I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world’ (emphasis added). Our propensity towards forgetting His actual promises and our ability to hope in what God never promised leaves us open to the swirling tides of emotion. Our goal is not to live an emotionless life. However, we must govern our emotions in such a way that they lead us back to Christ, seeking Him in our places of longing. My tears that morning expressed the overflow of my heart. In my lament, I joined with the psalmists of ages past as they cried out before the Lord. They sought Him and asked for relief from painful trials. Contentment is not the absence of struggling before the Lord; contentment involves struggle. In fact, just before Paul tells the Philippians that he has learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, he tells them, ‘But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.’ Even as Paul was fully content, he strained onward, pressing on to win the goal of his faith. His words denote active struggle, not passive inactivity. Contentment will not suddenly descend upon us. We must actively battle the lies of the world, the flesh and the devil in order to find peace in Christ alone. In order to have present contentment, we must keep looking back to the cross and forward to heaven. The cross reminds us that Jesus loves us enough to shed His own blood. Since He has given the most costly thing He had to give, whatever He withholds is surely part of His goodness towards us. Heaven reminds us that one day all our current longings and struggles will be satisfied. Whatever is lacking here will be fully realized there (250-251).
This book motivated me all the more to find my satisfaction in Christ, who is more than sufficient. It also reminded me once again that He is the one working on my heart. With that knowledge I can confidently press ahead.