I have called three states “home.” I grew up in Missouri, where I was born, educated and met my wonderful wife. I then moved to Texas, where I continued my education and where our two sons were born. Twenty-four years ago, I moved to Oklahoma. Not only did I raise my family here, but I have spent most of my years of ministry in this great state.
Recently, a friend sent me an e-mail titled, “You know you’re from Oklahoma if . . .” After living in two other states, I recognize the peculiar differences that belong . . . only in Oklahoma. This e-mail pointed out several things that are quite true. You know you’re from Oklahoma if: 1. You can properly pronounce Eufaula, Gotebo, Okemah and Chickasha. (Even after living here for 24 years, I still can’t pronounce many of the names of Oklahoma’s smaller towns). 2. A tornado warning siren is your signal to go out in the front yard and look for a funnel. (I’m very thankful that Oklahoma has these sirens. Otherwise, I would have missing seeing several tornadoes . . . up close and personal). 3. You know in which state Miam-uh is and in which state Miam-ee is. 4. You aren’t surprised to find movie rentals, ammunition and bait all in the same store. (I am proud to live in a state that pioneered the “all-in-one” convenience store concept). 5. You know that everything goes better with ranch dressing. (As long as I have lived in Oklahoma, I don’t understand this one. I am from Missouri, where everyone knows that everything goes better with . . . ketchup. 6. You know you are an Okie if you have used the word “fix’n” in the last 12 months . . . plus a hundred other one-syllable words. 7. It doesn’t bother you to use an airport named for a man who died in an airplane crash. 8. You believe “Little Smokies” should only be served on special occasions. 9. You know that cowpies are not made from beef. 10. You have seen people wearing bib overalls at funerals. 11. You know a couple who has used an OU, OSU or high school football schedule to plan their wedding date. 12. Last but not least, you know you are from Oklahoma if you refer to the capital of Oklahoma as . . . “The City.”
The apostle Paul talks a lot of about the “states” in which he lived. “Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content.” (Philippians 4:11 NKJV). In his life, he saw many different states: the state of despair, the state of disappointment, the state of imprisonment, the state of discouragement and more.
But Paul discovered something that very few of us God-followers ever seem to get. He could live in the state of content . . . regardless of the circumstances of the day. I looked up the word “content” in the Cambridge dictionary, and it gave the meaning, “desiring no more than what one has; satisfied.” Another dictionary said, “pleased with your situation and not hoping for change or improvement.”
The state I long to call home is the state of mind Paul experienced when he wrote that he had nothing, and yet possessed everything (2 Corinthians 6:10). What an epiphany he must have had when that thought finally penetrated his mind and spirit! What joy he must have felt! He emerged from the forest of heartaches, disappointments, let-downs and misfortunes with a knowledge greater than anything he could have ever bought. Through his many writings in the Bible, he passed this knowledge on to us. Maybe, just maybe, he intended to save us some trouble.
Every once in a while, we take stock of our lives and families. We think about all the things we have gained and lost. We even try to figure out how we got into our latest “state.”
If you are a believer, don’t forget that when you take stock, you need to include the value of the greatest treasure you’ll ever obtain. The King of kings and Lord of lords came down from His throne and became a servant; dying for your transgressions. He did this so you could have the opportunity to gain it all . . . even if you lose it all.
Oh, and one more thing, especially for all of you people who live in other states and complain about the wind. Only in Oklahoma, we think you are . . . sissies.
Father, teach me always to be content, regardless of my circumstances. Help my family and me to find a state of contentment every day . . . in You. Amen.