Life in the United States has become more hectic. The cost of living has increased. Jobs demand more time and effort, and the kids are involved in more activities. Today, it is not uncommon for a high school student to put in a 12-hour day at work (classes and extra-curriculars) before coming home to do two hours worth of homework.
Meanwhile, Dad, who already clocked a 10-hour workday, sits on the couch checking and responding to work emails. Today, it seems that we are always working on something. We always have somewhere to be, or something to accomplish. The American life today is busy.
Life today is far from the future envisioned by a 1960s-era CBS News documentary about the future life in America. In it, Walter Cronkite previewed future technology, such as the internet, big screen TVs, automated home systems, the home office and distance learning. Much of that technology had not even begun development, but Cronkite foresaw it, and optimistically declared that, with life being made easier by these new devices, Americans would have more recreational time than ever before.
Cronkite’s vision of future technology came to pass. His vision of more recreation and leisure, and an easier lifestyle did not. Why?
We could list the societal changes and issues that drive our current pace of life, but the root cause is that we, by nature, are discontent. To be human is to be discontent. To be human is to want more. To be human is to want it better. Our desire for more, our discontentment drives us to take on more projects, duties, activities, and so forth to accomplish more and to profit more. In some cases, that is thrust upon us by discontent employers. The root cause is the same. Discontentment.
Lost in all of this hustle and bustle of discontentment are the simple pleasures of life… iced tea on the back porch, fishing on a Saturday afternoon, watching your kid step up to bat in a little league game. We are so busy trying to survey and claim the entire forest that we miss the beauty of the trees. And so, we miss the simple pleasures in life. Thus, our discontentment grows.
Scripture speaks into this in 1 Timothy 6:6, which says, “Godliness with contentment is great gain.” Basically, if you can learn to trust God and be content with what you have, you are the richest person you know.
Think about it. Who’s happier right now? The multimillionaire who stares at his portfolio all day stressing about the right time to make the next trade? Or the Social Security retiree who is sitting on the banks of the Mississippi river with his line in the water? At this very moment, which person would you rather be?
If you believe that peace and happiness will come at a time when you achieve a certain financial goal, you will never feel secure, and you will never be content. However, if you find contentment in the Lord, and the simple pleasures He brings into your life, you have already achieved wealth, and will find yourself at peace.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I think I’ll go find my cane pole.
–Written by Pastor Leland Acker