For my birthday this weekend, my wife surprised me with a kid-free weekend, filled with dates. Dates with my wife used to come easy, daily even, but with three little kids, a dinner with no high chairs or a movie with no cartoons, need a little planning.
As we enjoyed our date tonight, I was reminded of all of the different stages life has brought us over the past 10 years, and the unique joys that came with each:
We were friends for 7 years before dating, enjoying a needed season of singleness as the Lord taught us how to find our identities in Him alone, finding contentment in our singleness and blessings in our friendship.
We dated for two months before I proposed: two months of firsts; first date, first time we held hands, first time we said, "I love you."
We were engaged for 7 months, which gave us time to dream of our future, set a foundation for our marriage, get to know each other's family, plan our honeymoon, and enjoy worshipping Christ together.
We were married for nearly 4 years before we had our first child. We had freedom in these years to spend our afternoons in the park, go on dates any night we wanted, travel, and serve together.
After our daughter was born, we were a family of three for 21 months, then we were a family of four for 28 months before the Lord gave us another child, ushering us unto another stage as a family of five.
Every chapter of life, every stage of our family, brings its own unique joys and challenges. However, and unfortunately, it seems all of us are prone to look back on previous stages and wish we could be there again, just as it is natural to forever be looking ahead, believing that tomorrow's stage will be better than today's.
Often, contentment can seem unattainable.
When we're single, we just want to be in a relationship, until we are and then we want to be engaged. We spend our engagement less than satisfied because we're not yet married. Then we want children, and once children come, we frequently dream of the days before children when we had so much more free time.
But I believe that, no matter what stage of life we are in, we can find joy; we can find contentment.
At the end of Paul's letter to the Philippians, Paul, writing from house arrest, says that he has learned contentment in all circumstances, whether he's in need or hungry or living with plenty.
This sort of contentment and joy isn’t natural. It’s supernatural.
It isn’t of the flesh. It’s of the Spirit.
It’s impossible for us. It’s possible for God.
Today's stage, this current chapter of life, will last for but a moment before God blesses us with another. But whatever stage we are standing on today, is a stage that can be enjoyed in Christ, one that can bring contentment in Christ, and one that can be filled with worship for the glory of Christ.
Jonathan Williams is the founder of Gospel Family Ministries. He is also the author of Gospel Family. Jonathan enjoys this ministry alongside his wife, Jessica, and their three children, Gracie, Silas & Elijah. With a heart for families and the church, Jonathan also serves as the pastor of Wilcrest Baptist Church in Houston, Texas.