Too Late For Contentment
“It’s too late.” That’s what I told my wife this evening. “It’s just too late,” I said. No, our marriage isn’t on the rocks. Although, like many Americans standing on the precipice of financial ruin, that’s where my wife and I could find ourselves. We were there…once. We vowed we would never be there again. At least not because of any more stupid monetary decisions we made based on want and greed.
Like the violin I craved when we were first married. I’m a musician; don’t laugh. I wanted it so badly I could taste it. My wife wanted to please me. And so, after weeks of begging, she purchased it, even though we had a school bill due in just a few days, in addition to all of our other monthly expenses. Believe it or not, I still don’t play the violin, even though I vowed I would master it. But I realize now that it wasn’t the violin I needed so desperately to master.
The Bible tells me to “be content with such things as ye have”. Now if that isn’t the most anti-capitalistic statement known to man, I don’t know what is. I mean, if we took that exhortation literally, then no one would ever have a desire to better their circumstances. And all the new gadgets on the market would rust and ruin on the store shelves for lack of interest on behalf of consumers, for there would be no consumers, save only those consuming products necessary for life. Interesting concept, isn’t it?
But do we really want to go back to the stone age? Unfortunately, to some extent, that may be where we’re headed whether we like it or not. You see, our nation’s financial foundations have been shaken to the core, and we face uncertain days ahead. The experts are prophesying a depression to rival that of the 1930s. What brought about such dire conditions? Ironically, could it be because we actually wanted to better our circumstances? And what would be wrong with that?
You don’t need me to instruct you on the Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac debacle, that at least, in part, helped to plunge our nation into this present financial quagmire. The bad loans written to so many Americans just wanting to get a little further ahead; to touch just a small piece of the “American Dream” that has alluded too many of us for too long. Years ago, when the government sent a strong message to the nation’s financial institutions that ALL citizens should be given access to housing loans no matter their ability to pay it back, it sounded almost….Patriotic.
However, we continually miscalculate the power of greed, don’t we? “Labor not to be rich,” the book of wisdom tells us. “For he who laboreth to be rich, troubleth his own house”. I have troubled my house. The violin story was only the beginning. It wasn’t the violin I needed to master, but rather my passion to act on my desire to obtain things that I don’t necessarily need. I need to master and bring under control my foolish, albeit well-meaning, tendency to purchase something I don’t have the money for. I find it very hard to do battle with myself like that. How about you?
When our country’s lending institutions were handing out loans like candy, and people of all walks of life saw the chance at something better, what did we think would be the outcome? Whether stepping up to a $100,000 home or a $1,000,000 home, the passion, the desire, and the greed, outweighed the risk of not being able to pay it all back….with interest. And so here we are.
“It’s too late,” I said to my wife. It’s too late to encourage my fellow citizens to be happy with their cozy little homes. It’s too late to warn them about their discontentment which will lead to their acting upon a desire for something better. It’s too late to stop them from signing that loan that will hang over their heads and eat away at their inner peace like a cancer because they lack the funds to make the payments and to also pay their monthly bills. And, too late to calm the fear and worry over finances which, too quickly, can turn to anger and blame leveled at our dear loved ones God has placed around us.
There was a time, years ago, when my dear wife, our 6 children, and I lived up a “holler” in a four-room house. Not a 4 bedroom house, mind you, but rather a very small, 4 room coal mining house. In between jobs, and just starting our new ministry together, we could afford nothing else. Don’t feel sorry for us. At first, I felt guilty for not providing better for my family, but all of us agree that that Christmas spent in that little house with a little 2 foot tree on the end table, was one of the most precious, warm, and meaningful holidays we have ever spent together.
You see, it wasn’t the house that brought us real contentment….but you knew that already, didn’t you? “Better is little with the fear of the Lord, than great riches and trouble therewith.” Perhaps it isn’t too late after all.