He is a wise man who does not grieve for the things which he has not, but rejoices for those which he has. —Epictetus
Grant and I took a road trip to my graduate school in Indiana last year. We stayed at a very unique place in the Great Smoky Mountains called LeConte Lodge. Instead of using a car to drive up to these cabins, we had to hike 6.7 miles up a mountain to the lodge where there was no electricity and no running water. We had to pour our own water in a basin for our basic needs of washing our faces and brushing our teeth. There was no wifi, no telephone lines. We had our basic toiletry items and one pair of clothes. I can honestly say the simplicity of this time was refreshing and rejuvenating.
(Read the story of this journey in our blog, 'Every Step Intentional', detailing this amazing adventure.)
We are inundated every day with commercials and advertisements that preach to us about all of the products, food, clothing, makeup… that we absolutely “can’t live without!” Whether we acknowledge it or not, we are constantly being discipled by what we watch, listen to, and how we spend our time. Even our internet is infiltrated with “cookies” to help provide you with the right ad that blaringly grabs your attention to point to the fact that you need more and more of… fill in the blank.
We are a consumer driven society. This gets us in trouble when we praise these material gifts as precious jewels that fill our souls. As a Young Life leader in college, the group of adolescents that attended our club were from very prosperous families. These kiddos’ were provided for far above and beyond what they needed and/or wanted. However, levels of depression, reports of self-harm, and drug abuse were high in comparison to adolescents in the same region who lived in lower socioeconomic neighborhoods. I often heard many of them lament that instead of gifts from their parents, they just wished they had more time with them.
David, a man after God’s own heart, described this struggle in modern terms (Message version):
Why is everyone hungry for more? “More, more,” they say. “More, more.” I have God’s more-than-enough, more joy, in one ordinary day.” Psalm 4:6-7
Things are merely things. They don’t fulfill or sustain us. We can’t take them with us when we leave this world. Solomon, one of the wealthiest men of all time, wrote about wealth in Ecclesiastes:
Whoever loves money never has enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with their income. This too is meaningless. Ecclesiastes 5:10
Having all of the riches in the world doesn’t provide fulfillment, the Lord does. Even in doing the “Christian” things such as the act of going to church, prayer, and hanging out with Christian friends doesn’t fully sustain us. I believe the Lord can use these things to draw us closer to Him but ultimately our hearts desire our Savior. So, instead of piling up more and more materials items and doing more things, why not rest in what the Lord has provided and the Giver and Creator of all things.