Man I hate it when I get “the green-eyed monster.” I had a pretty decent bout of it this weekend, and God used a whack upside the head to remind me that the “stuff” that I am discontent with is, to many, an amazing blessing from Him.
It all started after church. (why does temptation have to come right after church? Isn’t that when I am supposed to be doing the best?!?!) One of our elders asked me if he could borrow my truck to go pick up a TV he was buying for a family member; this is not an uncommon occurrence under the “if you have a truck, everyone wants you to help them move” corollary. I have no problem with this idea, because that’s part of the reason I bought a truck!
The challenge was in what got dropped off while the truck was being used. He is financially well off and had just traded in his old lease on a brand new Lexus GS; let’s just say that on a pastor’s income, a new (like 400 miles on the odometer new) Lexus is probably not in the budget. He and his wife are awesome, and while they were picking up the TV they encouraged us to go for a joy ride in their new car. THAT wasn’t hard to accept! 🙂
Laura and I took a nice ride up to a place near us with a view; then we went to get a cherry limeade from Sonic, and headed home because I needed to clean up after Men’s Assault.* It was a great time, and the car of course drove beautifully. I am pretty familiar with Lexus because my parents bought one in 1989 when they first came out; I got to drive it when I was the designated driver for them as a teenager. This one drove like a dream! It was unbelievably quiet and really, really fast. (please don’t ask how I know…) I joked with Laura that she married the wrong guy to be able to let her drive a car like the one we were in!
I didn’t have a problem with them having a nice car because I know how incredibly generous they are with their finances and how much they serve the Lord. The problem I had was when I got back into my truck later in the day! We had some other friends come over for dinner and Ben and I went to get a propane tank exchanged so we could grill our dinner. As I climbed into my noisy diesel pickup truck, let’s just say that I noticed the step down in quality from a brand-new Lexus GS to an 02 Ford F250 with 170,000 miles on the odometer.
I mentioned to Ben that I had the opportunity that afternoon to drive a sweet ride, and how dirty my truck was from travelling off road this weekend. I must say that I was a bit disgruntled with my old beast; it wasn’t quiet, wasn’t new, needed some work, and didn’t even have the four-wheel drive that would have made it more useful up in the woods for our Men’s Assault. It has leaked oil several times recently and the air conditioning is a bit spotty. It runs strong but occasionally the remote goes on the fritz; my battery cover for the remote is a piece of masking tape. Yeah, I put the k in kwality!
Just as I was listing in my mind what I was frustrated with in my truck, Ben snapped me back to reality. He looked around and said, “You know, this is like a dream truck for me. It’s got enough room to put the whole family in, and lots of power, and it will run forever. It’s a great truck!”
It was like God hit me upside the head with a 2X4. I remembered again all the reasons I love my truck: it runs strong, gets decent mileage for a big monster, can pull almost anything, has a cool remote starter, and can fit my whole family and all our gear and take us on a long trip guaranteed. It has also been a pretty awesome ministry tool, helping a lot of people move TVs and couches and whole homes, piles of dirt and everything in between. I couldn’t do that with a Lexus! That’s when Paul’s words in 1 Timothy 6:6-10 came tumbling through my brain about contentment:
6 But godliness actually is a means of great gain when accompanied by contentment.
7 For we have brought nothing into the world, so we cannot take anything out of it either.
8 If we have food and covering, with these we shall be content.
9 But those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a snare and many foolish and harmful desires which plunge men into ruin and destruction.
10 For the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.
Contentment. Yesterday afternoon I was lacking contentment big time. I had let envy get between me and enjoying the wonderful blessings that God had already given me; I had let what I didn’t have stand between me and being thankful for what I did have. It took a reminder from a friend that what I had, as many small issues as it might have, is a huge blessing from God! If I had the new car and not my truck, I never would have been able to bless my friend and elder who needed to pick up a television. In return he blessed me by putting about a half-tank of (very expensive right now) diesel in it! So I got to bless him, he got to bless me, and I am willing to bet that other than my envy God was very happy with the fellowship and taking care of one another that was present.
I am grateful to God today for reminding me to be thankful to Him for His many blessings. Even the ones that I think are a bit rough around the edges are, in reality, His hand on me and my life. I am also grateful for authentic friends who can remind me of His grace without even trying. I would encourage you today to look for ways in which envy has crept into your life and corrupted your heart for the blessings that God has placed in your life. Your stuff, or relationships, or family, or job may not be as new or as nice as someone else’s, but I will guarantee you that you have a friend or acquaintance who would trade places with you in a minute. So thank God for the many ways that He is showing you His grace today.
* We have a men’s retreat every year, but we call it Men’s Assault. Manly men don’t like to retreat, we like to storm the hill! So we think it’s manlier to call it Men’s Assault.