Posted in Family, friends, gratitude, life, Scripture, Southern born, sovereignty of God, thankful, Trials

Treasure or Trash

You must not covet your neighbor’s house. You must not covet your neighbor’s wife, male or female servant, ox or donkey, or anything else that belongs to your neighbor.” Exodus 20:17

I hardly could believe my eyes.  It was a bright, warm morning and I was on my way to school.  This particular day I decided to walk and since it wasn’t that far it wasn’t a big deal.  Our house had been enveloped by one of those newfangled suburban sub-divisions consisting of dozens and dozens of near alike houses.  The shortest way to school was to cut between two of those houses so…I did.

On the other side of my cut-through was a cul-de-sac—a street that ended in a circle—one way in and one way out.  As I emerged from my path and stepped onto the pavement—I saw it.  There, clearly in someone’s trash, was a blue ten-speed bicycle. It was about twenty yards from where I was and from there—it looked brand new.  My bike wasn’t that old but it only had three speeds and what was that compared to ten? I decided to do a “fly by” before I left the scene so I turned left and strutted over.  I didn’t touch it, I didn’t pick it up, I just took a quick look and determined one thing right then. If by some miracle this treasure was still there on my way home from school it was going home with me.

All the way to school I could think of nothing but that blue bike and the more I thought about it—the bigger and better it got.  My day dreams only continued to grow as I spent my day at school. I was dreaming about how great it would be to have a new ten-speed bike. I just couldn’t wait to clean it up, check the tires, and take off.  Well, as soon as school was over, I started trekking home and toward that blue bike. So, soon I was back in the neighborhood, back on that street and heading toward the cul-de-sac. As I neared the place where the bike was,  I looked, and it was gone.  No, just kidding, it was still there.

I immediately went over, picked up the bike and started toward home.  As I walked, I began to look and it was about then that reality set in.  You see, the fact was that the bike was not nearly new.  There were parts missing and parts broken.  The tires were flat, cables that were supposed to shift those ten speeds were either missing or a mess.  The bottom line was this.  It became quickly apparent that there was a reason why the blue bike was in the trash.  The reason?  It was trash.

You might be wondering how I was able to see one thing when the reality was totally different. You might be wondering how I could see treasure when in fact it was trash.  Well, the answer is really quite simple.  We all see what we want to see.  When I saw the blue ten-speed bike, my discontentment with what I had quickly grew.  What I had seemed to be so much less than what I saw—or thought I saw.  Only when I got what I thought I wanted did I realize it was so much less. So.Much.Less.

This is a big truth. Often what we don’t have, what we can’t have, what we shouldn’t have just naturally looks bigger and better than what we have. Sadly, we don’t realize it till we have thrown away the better for the bad.  It is true in careers, it is true in friendships, it is true in marriages and it is true in a hundred other situations. Stop and think how much regret and remorse we have to own because we chased something that we thought was better than what was in our hands.

Our world can easily become one of mirages and not reality so be careful what you chase.  Remember the grass is not always greener on the other side of the fence. It probably just appears that way because that is what we want to see—and believe. One of God’s big ten makes it clear—we shouldn’t covet.  Put another way—we should be satisfied with what we have. So, if you are walking down the road and see a blue bike in the trash, you might want to think it though carefully before you take it home. A second look, a pause, might save you a ton of regret. Need a second opinion, I know just where to go…my Dearest Daddy. He will know just what to do…He’s got this.  Bro. Dewayne

Posted in Family, friends, gratitude, life, missions, prayer, Scripture, thankful, Trials

Choose to be Content

I’m just as happy with little as with much, with much as with little. I’ve found the recipe for being happy whether full or hungry, hands full or hands empty. Whatever I have, wherever I am, I can make it through anything in the One who makes me who I am.” Philippians 4:12-13

I was content…almost.  Contentment is one of the most elusive things.  One minute you are fat and happy and the next minute you are just fat.  Some small, insignificant thing happens that seems to change everything.  It probably has a lot to do with most of us living in the best country in the world—the United States.  We have more than we need and that is a problem, and that is the problem.  Andy Stanley, a pastor in Atlanta, talks about the fact that most of us have houses with multiple bedrooms and bathrooms and get ready, there is even a house for our car attached to the deal. Amazing.

We once went on a mission trip to the Philippines. We were there to repair some damage caused by an earthquake. Two things amazed me—how beautiful it was and how kind and polite the people were.  On a couple of levels, it did indeed seem like paradise.  You see the island we were on was a vacation destination for many.  It was simply beautiful.  The only problem was we didn’t get see it.  There simply wasn’t time for a lot of sightseeing because there was a mission to accomplish–a job to finish.

Now I know that probably sounds pretty noble–maybe even spiritual, but the truth is even on the mission field it is hard not to think about–ME.  The “resort” we stayed at really was quite nice–particularly when compared to let’s say sleeping in the sand in Mali, West Africa or on the ground in Uganda, East Africa.  I guess I should have been content–and I was–almost.

When we arrived at the resort, we were given our room assignment.  Judy and I were assigned a single unit.  I must admit I did have the best roommate.  We went to our room, and it was nice–small–but nice. There room to walk and have the luggage on the floor, but it was nice. We pushed the twin beds together and it was just like home–just smaller–a lot smaller.  So then we went to check out the other room assignments.

Well, their rooms were also quite nice.  Each person had two twins pushed together to make a double bed and the room was bigger–a lot bigger.  There was even room for their suitcases to be on the floor and still walk around the bed.  Suddenly, my room (well, our room) felt even smaller.  Suddenly, it didn’t seem quite–fair.

Now I was content until I saw how the rest fared.  I was content until I saw what big was like and then I wasn’t. Just like that I went from contentment to discontentment. I went from feeling blessed to feeling cheated—all in about two seconds flat. Isn’t it amazing how one minute you can be satisfied and the next you’re not?  There’s a word for that and I think it is close to sin. And the crazy part is it doesn’t just happen on a mission trip to the Philippines–it happens to a lot of folks on any given day.  We are content until we see how the other half lives. I think it is something like the grass is always greener somewhere else.

Paul said something quite amazing in Philippians 4:12 “I know both how to have a little, and I know how to have a lot.  In any and all circumstances I have learned the secret of being content—whether well fed or hungry, whether in abundance or in need. I am able to do all things through Him who strengthens me.” Oh, and by the way, when Paul wrote those words, he was sitting in a dark, dank, stinking Roman prison.  Ouch.

I think all of us need to learn Paul’s secret to joy–just be content!  The truth is most of us have it a lot better than 90% of the world! The truth is if we look around, we will find that our Heavenly Father has filled our world with “love notes” that simply yet profoundly say, “Just to say, I love you.”

Whether our world has a healthy dose of bumps or if the sun shines consistently, if it is corona crazy or as smooth as a lake at sunset, we have so many reasons to be thankful…to be content.  Why not take the time today to look around and be thankful for what you have rather than rattled about what you don’t?  After all, hasn’t the Giver proven Himself over and again?  Hasn’t He “shown off” time and again in His lavish grace and love.  Sure, He has.  So, settle back and take a rest.  After all, He’s got this.  Bro. Dewayne