Christopher Columbus once said, "Riches don't make a man rich, they only make him busier." Maybe there is more to this little bit of wisdom than first meets the eye! The writer of Ecclesiastes said it this way: If you have to work hard for a living, you can rest well at night, even if you don’t have much to eat. But if you are rich, you can’t even sleep. (5:12 CEV). The riches we amass are both material and immaterial, but the ones which seem to give us the greatest of concern are the material. They require so much of our attention and the last "big thing" we managed to get is almost outdated or not as useful or as good within just a short time of attaining it. I could spend a great deal of time lamenting the many purchases I have bought over the years only to share how disappointing they were because they didn't perform "as seen on TV" or they simply were outdated within just a short time of getting them. The this which never goes out of style or "outdates" are the immaterial things I can "amass" over the course of a lifetime. Things like memories - they may grow old, but they never "outdate". Things like friendships - they may evolve into deeper, personal relationships over time, but they don't "outdate". Something which is outdated is antiquated, obsolete, and what some may call "old fashioned". I don't know about you, but there are some pretty "old fashioned" things in my life and I kind of like them!
What is the best thing to do in the short life that God has given us? I think we should enjoy eating, drinking, and working hard. This is what God intends for us to do. Suppose you are very rich and able to enjoy everything you own. Then go ahead and enjoy working hard—this is God’s gift to you. God will keep you so happy that you won’t have time to worry about each day. (Ecclesiastes 5:18-20 CEV)
My best friend and I joke frequently about one of our favorite pastimes - eating! We make light of the fact that any day spent creating or enjoying good food is a good day indeed. I cannot help but think this way as I enjoy not only the good food, but the good friends I share that food with! Even a bologna sandwich and a cup of tomato soup on a cold day with my BFF is like gourmet cuisine in my book! It isn't the "much" we can bring to the table, but the "beauty" of each other that makes the time so awesome. We don't have to spend lots and lots of time in deep conversation. In fact, sometimes we just share what it is in a particular game we are playing which will help us to finish our quest! Now, for non-gamers that may seem a little trivial, but let me assure you, some of those quests are hard and a little help from a friend can go along way. As a matter of fact, my son was over the other day and I asked him to help me get past a particular level in one of those matching games. He took my phone, worked it out, and handed it back to me. Finally, I had advanced past the level I had been stuck on for nearly two weeks! Not much to you? Everything to me! Why? I had time with my son and he got to "school" his mom in how it was done! Priceless!
Many times we complain about the fact we have to work for a living. Sometimes we mean it and other times we are making light of the fact we have to get up each day and dress, drive, and engage in whatever it is we do for a living. I have been out of work for a couple of weeks again with disability for the knee. I am going absolutely stir crazy around the house. God just didn't make us to sit around non-productive all the time. I have payment coming in for my disability, one of the great benefits I have from my workplace, but I find working kind of rewarding. It is hard, and at times I want to pull my hair out at some of the silly stuff we have to do (or the silly stuff someone else does which makes us have to do what we do!). Yet, in the complexity of the work, I find reward. Now, that isn't a sick mind my friends - it is a mind doing what God made a mind to do! We are to enjoy our work - because it is what God has given us to do.
In examining our lives, there are simple things we do each and everyday which deserve more of our attention than others. Things like letting our sons "school" us in an online game, or sharing stories over a cup of soup with a friend who just needs to talk about the "regular" stuff of life. It isn't much, you may even think it trivial, but in the light of eternity, it is everything! The immaterial "things" we amass deserve focus, too - not just the mad rush to get the material! We cannot underestimate the value of our relationships - for to lose even one is to lose a great deal. We cannot overestimate the value of our wealth and riches - for to lose them will leave us wanting and haggard. We need a balance between the material and the immaterial "riches" we can amass. I guess it is this balance I'd like us to focus on as we come into the new year. Balance is where we will find our greatest reward - not in the getting of more, but in the enjoyment of what we already have and building upon that until we see it prosper and multiply! Just sayin!