—that I may win Christ, and be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith.
— Philippians 3:8-9

In proportion as we know God, we must desire him, until at length we live in and for him with all our conscious heart. The righteousness which is of God by faith in God is then just the same kind of thing as God’s righteousness, differing only as the created differs from the creating. The righteousness of him who does the will of his father in heaven, is the righteousness of Jesus Christ, is God’s own righteousness. The man who has this righteousness, thinks about things as God thinks about them, loves the things that God loves, cares for nothing that God does not care about. Even while this righteousness is being born in him, the man will say to himself, “Why should I be troubled about this thing or that? Does God care about it? No. Then why should I? I must not care. I will not care!” The man with God’s righteousness does not love a thing merely because it is right, but loves the very rightness in it. He feels joy in himself, but it comes to him from others, not from himself—from God first, and from somebody, anybody, everybody next. The man who really knows God is, and always will be, content with what God, who is the very self of his self, shall choose for him; he is entirely God’s, and not at all his own. The being of what God has made him, and the contemplation of what God himself is, and what he has made his fellows, is what gives the man joy. He wants nothing, and feels that he has all things, for he is in the bosom of his father, and the thoughts of his father come to him. He knows that if he needs anything, it is his before he asks it; for his father has willed him, in the might and truth of his fatherhood, to be one with himself. 


Love and Willow Trees
by Diane Adams

Nothing is content like a willow tree. The tree is not consumed by the need to constantly strive and search for something new, something greater than what it has already found. The willow finds its home beside the water. It sinks its roots down into the springs underneath and turns its face to the sun above. The tree does not search for water outside of where it is planted, nor does it learn to live with very little water as others trees have done. Instead, the secret of the willow is that digs down deep into the earth to find its life-source. 

Can one choose to be content? Is contentment a matter of the will or the result of a process beyond our own will, similar to the growth of a tree? Knowing that one ought to be content and actually being content are two different things. One does not automatically follow the other; knowledge does not always give birth to wisdom. 

We cannot choose how we feel. Emotion is is the result of multiple combined experiences within existence and is not changed by whether or not we want it. I don’t think a person who is miserable can say one morning that he will no longer be so, by the force of his will or decision. Contentment is a result of where we have chosen to put our ‘root system’. If a willow takes root on a rocky hillside, it will not flourish like one located in a river valley. The water source is not there. 

Love is the essence of who God is. It is the water beside which we must grow if we would learn contentment. The one who cultivates love places roots down deep into love’s every tributary. He searches out its underground sources, deep within his own sphere and being. This is the one who will experience contentment, not as a thing that is pursued but as a result of where he has located himself. 

Plant yourself by the river of love, inside the heart of God, and like the willow itself you will wake up in the spring and simply discover you have grown strong without ever trying to do so. You will have learned to flourish where you are, with what you have, not a as a result of trying to be content when you are not, but as an outgrowth of where you have located yourself. Contentment is the natural result of discovering the water source itself. Love is the water that gives life, and out of love flow the streams of contentment.