“So he said to me, “This is the word of the LORD to Zerubbabel: ‘Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,’ says the LORD Almighty. “What are you, O mighty mountain? Before Zerubbabel you will become level ground. Then he will bring out the capstone to shouts of ‘Grace! Grace to it!'” Zechariah 4:6-7
There is no fuel for a content life like the fuel of God’s Spirit. We can try to simplify our jobs and social lives. We can shuffle around our hobbies. We can cut out certain foods and add others. We can pour money into beauty products and services. Get up earlier, stay up later, walk more, garden more, complain less, brush our teeth seven times a day (with oraganic, all natural, green toothpaste). We can even post crafty signs around our houses.
And in doing all this we are seeking the perfect life. If my life was just like this or that, we think, I would be content. As soon as I get my diet under control (or my TV habits, or my anger, or my sleep schedule), I’ll be at peace with myself. We are desperate for shalom.
Alas, none of this fuels contentment. Rather, in all of this, the Holy Spirit can gift us with contentment.
Consider the words above from the prophet Zechariah who ministered to the post-exilic community in Babylon. He encouraged God’s people in the rebuilding of the temple and prophesied about Jerusalem’s future place in God’s kingdom. He spoke to a brokenhearted, downtrodden group of people. Zerubbabel, as the governor, was faced with the seemingly impossible task of reviving a land and people who have been devastated emotionally, spiritually, and physically.
The Lord’s message to Zerubbabel through Zechariah is simple: Your task will not be accomplished by your intelligence, skills, good-decision making, resources, commitment, or military strength. But by my Spirit. And as if to emphasize the power of that Spirit, the Lord signs his name: Yahweh of armies, hosts, warfare (commonly translated as Lord Almighty). Great mountains will be like level plains before the governor. And the song accompanying Zerubbabel’s service will be “Grace. Grace to it!”
I’m having a “great mountain” sort of day. I’ve crashed into the mountains in my heart and the obstacles in my circumstances at sixty miles per hour. The task to which God has called me seems undoable. Not only seems so; it is, in reality, impossible. I have tried in my own strength to fulfill my calling—and to be content in the midst of it. I have tried to be wife, mother, and writer, and have only ended up falling on my face.
So here’s my version of Zechariah 4:6: Not by good parenting techniques, not by cute rule charts and character posters, nor by clever punishments or amazing spiritual pep talks, nor even by self-control, patience, and calm words, but by my Spirit, says the Lord. By my Spirit will your children know me. By my Spirit will you change. By my Spirit will your creativity and words amount to anything. By my Spirit will your marriage thrive.
Grace. Grace to it! becomes my chant. Grace to it, now—or else!
Or else this frenzied heart will shrivel and implode. Or else contentment is a cruel carrot dangling unreachable in front of my famished soul.