I am convinced that there are more things in Alaska to stoke a fire of jealousy and covetousness than anywhere else. While traveling the only major highway, it seems every other vehicle is towing some sort of boat; many of which require oversize load signs. Glancing at the sky will fill your head with dreams of Beaver float planes or Piper Super Cubs. Numerous ATV’s and UTV’s can be seen tearing up the trails next to the highway. The campgrounds are full of all sorts of RV’s and every river that contains salmon is lined with beautiful homes, cabins and cottages. I install and service garage doors so I see the garages overflowing with fishing tackle, outdoor gear, and all kinds of expensive gadgets designed to make a person happy. There is no doubt, this area is America’s playground for the wealthy. As a visiting minister said in his sermon, “People waste a lot of money in Alaska!” I have noticed that people waste money other places as well but it does seem more visible here.
The picture below is of a plane landing in a lake that was directly behind a house where I was installing a set of garage doors. Nearly every lakeside home had an airplane docked in front of it.
The majority of the population that is here in the Kenai Peninsula during the summer months are here to play. The Peninsula is called “Alaska’s Playground” for a reason.
So with all of this going on around me, I find that my focus in life is easily drawn towards these things. Soon my mind is full of boats, airplanes, fishing, hunting, and adventure. But, there is a problem! I did not come here to play, and I did not come here with lots of money to burn. So, like a spoiled child with a quarter in a Dollar store, I begin to pout within of the circumstances in which I find myself. I become discontent. But why should I be? I have had numerous opportunities to experience adventure of which most people would only vaguely dream. I also have more than the vast majority of the world’s population; I have plenty of food, clothing, and shelter.
Discontentment is always focused on what you do not have. Would acquiring all of these things make me content? No, of course not! There would still be things that I don’t have.
Contentment is a choice. It is refocusing our desires.
I recently read a statement on Biblical Brethren Fellowship blog –“Life’s greatest failure is: to succeed in things that do not matter.”
It was a good pull on the bridle to get my head back in the right direction. Apostle Paul said to be content with food and clothing. 1 Timothy 6:8 Jesus said to not even worry about those things. Luke 12:22
“Seek first the Kingdom of Heaven…”
What a tragedy it would be to appear before the Judge with a nice house, a boat, or plane or whatever this selfish heart would love to indulge in, that was acquired at the expense of the poor, lost, or even my own children. It would be the most epic failure!
But it seems that the American church today has gotten the teachings of Jesus regarding money and possessions all switched around. Instead of seeing simplicity as a lifestyle that most aligns with the teachings of Jesus, the apostles, and the early church we tend to look down on those in our churches who do not have the nice house, or late model car, or green lawn, etc… We begin to sniff out the reason for their poverty and maybe try to help them learn how to make more money. As Anabaptists we shun the “health and wealth” gospel and instead embrace suffering for Christ’s name. Or do we?
As Anabaptists we would never teach against the Scripture in James 2. But do we imply it when we judge others by their level of success in obtaining possessions?
I guess you could say I am having a paradigm shift regarding money and possessions. I am not condemning anyone for what you have or don’t have but I do believe the American church has become blinded and intoxicated by what they call “blessings”.
What do you think?
Now that I said all that, please don’t judge me by my garden fence. Then again, go ahead. I don’t mind being numbered with the “ugly fencers.” 🙂