There was a young man who lived in a land where food was scarce and opportunity was limited. Seeking to better his life he travelled to a land he had heard had plenty of food and opportunity. Upon arriving he found a job working in the mines and was able to make plenty of money to buy food. But in this land singing was illegal, anyone caught singing would be fined, and after three times caught singing, you would be thrown into a prison. This man loved singing and couldn’t help himself while picking away in the mines. After being caught and fined twice, he felt that it may be time to find a new place to live. He heard of a land with great wealth, where nobody lacked anything and had the freedom to do whatever they wanted as long as they didn’t hurt anyone or steal anything. So he travelled there as soon as he could and was filled with wonder when he arrived. Gold seemed to grow on trees and jewels could just be picked up off the ground. The only problem here is that nobody ever wanted to talk to Him. He tried to make friends, but everybody just seemed to be going about their business and never had time for Him. He had plenty of food, wealth, and could sing whenever he wanted, but what was the point of living if he couldn’t share it with people. So he found another land to travel too that seemed to promise these things that he had been lacking, but every time he gained something he wanted, he lost something he already had. After going to a few more places he ended up back where he started, with his family in this land where opportunity was scarce, but he could sing and he could be with the people he loved and that loved Him.
Any time we make a change in our lives, we may gain something, but we will also lose something. How often I meet people on these endless searches for a better life, but can never seem to find all that they are looking for. They go somewhere, take this job, get in a new relationship, to gain this one thing, but they didn’t realize it will cost them something they already have that they may have taken for granted. And the cycle never ends, because they can never find their ideal place, ideal job, or ideal significant other with absolutely everything that they want. It’s always a trade off.
Our western world, with all its opportunity, wealth, technology, scientific advancements, dreams of stardom, and so on, make it easy to convince ourselves that we can have it all. Not only that we “can,” but that we deserve it and are entitled to it. In the garden of Eden, back when our world was “perfect,” there was a tree called the “Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil.” Adam and Eve could eat of any tree in the garden except for this one. An important lesson here that is often overlooked is that even in the garden, the land of perfection, humanity couldn’t have everything that they wanted, there was still this one thing that they could not do and experience. Right from the beginning we were never meant to have it all, but sadly, many of us in our western world with all its prosperity, think that we can. Putting us on an endless journey of seeking a place and standard of living where we can have everything that we want and have all our desires met. This is a holy grail type of mission that will never be accomplished.
We live in a time where we can change our circumstances more than we ever could. We are much more mobile than any other time before us. Which makes the temptation to move and try something else much more alluring. Along with how accessible mobility is, comes with the notion that if we just got to the right place, with the right job, with the right friends, we will have it all and live in complete bliss. Which is just a set up for failure. We see all these people on instagram and other social media platforms that seem to be living this perfect life, and we think to ourselves that we can, and should be able to do the same. But we don’t realize that Instagram is a fabric of our imagination, the life people portray there is almost never steeped in reality and is never the complete picture. We can make our lives look however we want on these platforms. We might as well be comparing ourselves to the lives of Peter Pan and Snow White.
Paul says in Philippians 4:11-13, “I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am in. I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” This is a man who has mastered how to play the game. He understands how to be content in prosperity (I.E. America) and in humble means (I.E. Africa), both have their struggles and blessings. Contentment is a great battle with all this promise of “we can be more and have more.” We all have a desire to progress and improve, and that is a good thing, but without it being paired with contentment and gratitude for what we already have, the never ending search will always go on. Dream and use your imagination of what could be, but never lose your gratitude for what you already have.