In the most recent book by Dr. Richard Swenson, Contentment, the author has expanded on his previous writing including the very popular Margins, and he presents in a very clear, consistent way, the need to focus on the relationship with our Lord and Savior and to simplify our lives. His style is enjoyable, relatable and at times, amusing.
Dr. Swenson describes two realities with one of those being a tunnel in which we live our chronological life. Outside the tunnel is also a real world but it takes faith to appreciate it. Our Lord is a Shepherd and as such, he will never abandon us but we need to work on our relationship with him. One illustration that he uses is that of a garden. The garden does not grow on its own. We have to work on it. To support Swenson’s idea about simplicity, the author describes Christ as one who lives an austere existence. Jesus had minimal possessions as far as we know and did not need to ask anyone for advise, except the Lord. Much emphasis is placed on the concept of coveting things and people. This always gets one’s priorities out of order and separates us from God.
The author does an outstanding job of developing the history of contentment taking us back to the time of Abraham. He also includes an evaluation of average length of life and how that has had many other repercussions on all of society. “Contentment is consistent with progress if progress is consistent with Scripture.” The life of Paul, as Swenson outlines, is an amazing display of contentment in spite of rather than because of life events. Dr. Swenson uses “The Secret to a Lasting Calm” as a subtitle and I would add to it this quote from the author, “be connected to the Vine”: The secret to lasting calm is be connected to the vine.” Dr. Swenson especially cherishes John 13-17.
I certainly did not do justice to this excellent book and I strongly encourage you to join us on Jan. 18 for the Margin, Balance & Contentment Conference for a chance to meet Dr. Swenson and learn more about how you can have contentment in your life.