Greeting from Fred Crowell! This letter from Fred to all who have a special place in my heart. As I study my favorite Bible book, Philippians, I feel many of the emotions Paul wrote in his book concerning the lesson of CONTENTMENT. Contentment is being satisfied. For Paul, this meant a proactive choice to accept His Father’s perfect will in all circumstances.

Paul talks about being full of joy…always. Can you believe Paul wrote this in a letter to the Philippians from a Roman prison! Always? Really?

I, Fred, am writing these words from a CV-19 pandemic and cancer jail.

However, I am not alone in this time of suffering and pain in the least. The world is in pain. I grieve for so many facing pain. Not in my entire life have so many faced such adversities. England just reported their economy has dropped further than any time in the last 300 years. The USA’s unemployment is the worst in its history. 

How can we be content? My first vivid example of this was Mack Crenshaw, a former U of Georgia team captain who became the leader of our first Athletes in Action basketball team. Later, he also had a sensational career as a judge in Jacksonville, Florida. 

Here is that example. On a frigid winter night in Ohio, AIA competed against Bowling Green. We thought we had the close game won in the final seconds. The winning layup with no time left on the clock gave us the 1-point win…we thought and so erupted in celebration. However, our joy turned to sorrow; on a delayed ref call, our AIA ball steal was called a foul. No basket. Game over, and game lost. 

In the locker room, big Mack passed by me with a huge smile. “Smile, coach, God loves you!” In silence, I fumed. I had been seething with anger toward the ref; now I added Mack to my anger list. How could he smile with joy after being robbed of a victory, even though he was as fierce a competitor as there was? That cold wintry Ohio night in a locker room began my passion to discover this secret attitude of contentment. I saw my poverty and the magnificent contentment of Mack Crenshaw. 

Based on my contentment-seeking journey, I have discovered the first step is to seek contentment, want it, be willing to earn it. This is more important than how to. It becomes a discipline, not a virtue inherited by birth. Remember, it is a proactive choice.

The second step is to study the masters of contentment. Biblically, these are Ruth, Esther, Daniel, Mary, Paul, and especially the Lord Jesus Christ. What can we learn from St. Paul who was in prison? He even said “rejoicing” is safe; it is a gauge on our dashboard. If I am satisfied, I will rejoice! Our response is what matters. Jesus speaks of the “fullness of joy.” 

Life is never normal. We are still mortals living in a world subject to things apart from our control. However, God is always looking out for our good, even when things do not make sense. Finally, realize our circumstances do not diminish God’s loving, faithful character. He never becomes less than He is.

It is my deepest hope you find contentment through my Crowellians chapter 1, motivated by my master guidebook of Philippians by St. Paul.