Ecclesiastes 4:6 – Better a handful with tranquillity than two hands full with toil and chasing after wind. (NIV)
One of Aesop's fables is about a dog that lost the bone it was carrying because the dog mistook its own reflection in a pond for another dog, carrying a larger bone.
When I read the story to one of my grandchildren, we sat and talked about the meaning behind the story. It wasn't difficult to discuss with her that this story refers to the known human fallacy of wanting more of everything, and bigger, and better. It is time we ask ourselves:
- Why is it that we live in houses that have more rooms than we need or could possibly use, when the largest percentage of the world's population lives in shelters no bigger than a North American bedroom?
- Why is it that our closets are full of newer clothes, when last year's clothes still fit and are in perfect condition?
- Why is it that our food habits cause our bodies to balloon and harbour illnesses directly related to overeating?
- Why is it that we knock our lifestyle when people of other lands would give their eye teeth to come to be in our place?
- Why is it that our bank balances go higher and our church donations remain the same or diminish?
- Why is it that we continue to study for higher degrees when the education we have is all we need to do the job we have, and more is just "chasing after the wind"?
- Why is it that our children are raised by strangers in daycare centres, in nursery schools, and by television at home?
- When will we have enough education, food, clothing, recreation?
- When will we learn that larger, higher, or more isn't necessarily better?
- When will we learn that it is in relationships that we find joy and peace?
- When will we see that this is "greed" and a desire to feed the ego?
- When will we develop relationships with Jesus, our families, and our friends?
- When will we again provide a home for our children, filled with love rather than "things"?
After almost twelve years of service in India and Nepal, I have come away knowing that is it better to live in peace and quiet with basic and bare necessities, than to be forever running, acquiring things that sit idly on the shelves and need to be dusted. But most importantly, I have learned that there is nothing that can take the place of love in a home and that children can live better lives surrounded by love than with more "toys" than they can possibly play with.
Prayer: Loving God, from whom we have received all that we have and are, satisfy the inner need of each of us as we strive to find that for which our souls yearn. Arrest us from chasing after the wind and lead us to find ourselves, rooted in You. In Christ's name we pray. Amen.