Thursday, January 1, 2009

Contentment- the ugly "C" word

Let me tell you a secret you may not know about my two daughters. They are spoiled. Royally spoiled. Rotten to the core. My husband and I love to point out that this is due to both sets of grandparents, and not to us. They are my scapegoats and that is the story I am sticking with.

Apparently both sets of grandparents held up a toys r us each and brought all the goods to my house, at least that is what it looks like in here. My older girl, Bug, (not her real name.. just in case anyone thinks I actually am that crazy, I'm not), anyway, Bug got a lot of Littlest Pet Shop toys for Christmas among all the zillion of other things. The first thing she did when she opened one of the packages was to take out the paper flier that has pictures of ALL of the LPS creatures and start telling us which ones she did not have. She already had a lot on her dresser and got around 18 for Christmas! Yet all she was concerned with was getting more... having them all! I had to gently remind her that she was never going to have them all, because if she did then those Pets would have to live in the closet with the tub full of Thomas the Tank Engine and ALL of his friends, or in the large backpack that has Lightening McQeen and ALL of his friends, including 2 Mac trucks and all of the Dinoco Cars, from the movie Cars. We are running out of places to put stuff and it cost too much to throw or give away. I think we'll just hold on to it and when she is 17 I'll start auctioning it off on Ebay to pay for her college tuition.

This snippet brings me to my bible verse for today:

Exodus 16:4 Then the Lord said to Moses, "I will rain down bread from heaven for you. The people are to go out each day and gather enough for that day. In this way I will test them and see whether they will follow my instructions." (NIV)

So here is what you are probably thinking: the manna verse is much better suited to a "God supplies our need" blog than a Contentment blog. And that may be so. The wonderful thing about the Bible is that many verses can be used for many topics. There is a wealth of information waiting in every word if we just stop and look for it, kind of like trying to find the last piece of good chocolate at the bottom of your kid's Halloween candy sack.

The part I'd like to focus on is "the people are to go out EACH DAY and gather ENOUGH FOR THAT DAY. In that way I will TEST THEM and see whether THEY WILL FOLLOW MY INSTRUCTIONS." (emphasis mine).

The Israelites were only supposed to take enough of this life giving food for each day. That may not seem like a lot, but it meant that they were not supposed to keep any for the next day at all. They had to fully rely on God, and not themselves, to take care of their needs for the next day. At the same time they had to be content with what God provided for them each day to meet their daily needs. When we pray for God to "give us our daily bread", we need to know that sometimes that is manna, or bread and water, and it does not mean we will have enough money in our banking account to have a ribeye every day. Yet we must be content with what God provides. He may not give us what we want, but he will always give us what we need.

We usually have a difficult time telling the difference between "enough" and "too much". Our culture does not really help the situation, in fact, it generally makes it worse. Look at commercials very closely, who is happier? Is it the lady that is shopping at the mall, or the one wearing older clothes? Is it the family eating out every night at a restaurant or a family striving to cook something at home that no one wants to eat. Do people love their new cars or homes? Why yes they do-- until someone they know gets one better or newer or bigger... well... you get the idea.

Why do we care? Why do we want more? Even in a child as young as mine, the urge is already there to have it all. And what can we do about it? You can try to influence your own family, but you must be prepared with a backup plan because you are not the only influence they will have and you will need to weed through the others to determine what you can let stay and what you must weed out for good.

In the end, there are very few things we actually need. Food. Shelter. Water. Above all of this though, we need a relationship with God. He alone can fill our needs, our hearts, our need for a savior. Maybe if we focus more on him, and less on this world, we can learn to be more content.

In the mean time I suppose Barbie's dream house will have to build an addition to hold all of the pets that have taken over the black hole that is Bug's room.

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