Tag Archives: contentment

Because Things Don’t Last Forever

Story of the Day for Wednesday March 28, 2012

Because Things Don’t Last Forever

My feet almost slipped, and I almost lost my footing, because I envied the arrogant when I saw the prosperity of the wicked.  
Psalm 73:3

When our family moved to Montana, we needed another vehicle to pull a trailer. I bought an old, beat-up van for $500. It was a piece of work, let me tell you, but it did have a big motor and an AM radio.

One day a teenager was riding with me when we stopped at an intersection, and he saw a very expensive sports car.  He marveled at the car, and named the make and model. “Man, I wish I had a car like that.”

“Want to know something?”I said, “I think I get more enjoyment out of this old junker of mine than he does from his sports car.”

He looked at me as if I was joking.

But I was serious. I asked him who was more anxious about getting a scratch on his vehicle: him or me? Who was more concerned about his vehicle getting stolen? Who had the bigger payments? Who was more worried about someone backing into his car while he’s in the grocery store? I pointed out that he would enjoy the luxury and handling of his car, but that his ultimate pleasure would be enjoying the envy of others. Yet, next year, a newer model would come out. How would he feel when he sees people on the road with newer, better, more expensive cars than his?

At this point my teenage friend suggested I was compensating for feelings of inadequacy at having to drive an old, beat up clunker.

But he was wrong. That old van finally reached the point where it could no longer be  fixed with duct tape and piano wire, and we  had to junk it. (My daughter had just been  planning to paint the whole thing and make it look like a hippie van.) Our kids still light up and laugh when we reminisce about the old, mean green machine and the fun times we had.

Yes.

Do rich kids reminisce and tell fond stories about the luxury cars they used to own? I hope so, but I suspect they don’t

But I do know this: wealth is a gift from God. If you have it, I hope the Lord also gives you the gift to enjoy it.

But Benjamin Franklin once posed an interesting question: What kind of furniture would you buy if everyone in the world but you were blind?  If we use our wealth to create envy, we will find our pleasure is pretty hollow.

And if we envy those who have what we do not, we will always live in a state of discontent.

Be content with what you have.

All that said, I still hope that, some day, you, too, can own a $500 beater van.  Paint it like a hippie van as soon as you get it . . . because things don’t last forever.

         (copyright by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre)

Looking in the Right Place

Happy Thanksgiving!

Story of the Day for Thursday November 24, 2011

Looking in the Right Place

           I have learned to be content – no matter what happens.  I know what it’s like to live in humble circumstances, and what it’s like to have abundance. In any and every situation: whether well fed or hungry, whether living in prosperity or poverty, I have learned the secret of contentment.  I have strength for anything through Him who empowers me.

Philippians 4:11-13   

             Whenever we are highly motivated to do something, like building a garage or ridding our lawn of dandelions, we can usually achieve our goal.  Yet, when it comes to far higher goals, like happiness and contentment, we are often pretty much clueless.    What do you need to be content?  The knee-jerk response is “more money.”  We would be embarrassed to admit it to anyone, but there is a part of us that believes this.  (Even though research on this subject consistently reports that the wealthiest Americans, as a class, are the most unhappy, we still believe it.)

            My family used to live in an old mansion (built in the late 1800s by a lumber baron).  It had five fireplaces, stained-glass windows along one of the upstairs steps.  The third floor was built to house the butlers and maids.  The dining room was built in a half-circle with a cathedral ceiling.  My daughter counted the rooms one day.  Twenty-eight. 

            Did this enormous house bring us pleasure and enjoyment?  Absolutely! 

            But then, when we moved to Montana, we lived way up a mountain in a one-room cabin with a barrel stove for heat and pack rats annoyed by our intrusion.  And you know what?  We enjoyed that old cabin just as much as our mansion. 

 

            Just as we believe that wealth is the secret to contentment, so we often hear people say, “As long as you have your health, that’s all that matters.” 

            Great.  So what happens if you lose your health?  As counterintuitive as it may sound, people who lose their health often report surprisingly high levels of well-being.  Did you know that, among quadriplegics (those paralyzed from the neck down), only 16% of them consider their happiness to be below average?  The overwhelming majority consider their well-being to be higher than average! 

 

            The apostle Paul is talking about finding the secret to contentment.  He has known wealth and poverty.   As he writes these words, he is in prison.   What has he found that gives him such a remarkable sense of joy in such a dire situation? 

            Paul is not controlled by circumstances.  No matter what his situation in life, he’s on an adventure.   He can sincerely enjoy the pleasures in life but he is not dependent on any circumstance in order to be content.  He knows that he is in the hands of his wise and caring Lord.  He knows that in every situation he can find power from Jesus to love others and know that his life has purpose and challenge. 

            If you are still seeking contentment, make sure you’re looking for it in the right place.

                                             (copyright by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre)