I am able to be content

Puppies, Money, and Contentment

Your life should be free from the love of money.  Be satisfied with what you have, for He Himself has said, I will never leave you or forsake you.  Hebrews 13:5 HCSB

“Mama, I want a black lab puppy.  Please, may I have one?”  The big, brown, pleading eyes in the face of my precious son tweaked my heart.  But I couldn’t give him the answer he wanted.  We already had a dog.  I didn’t want two. So I said, “Sweetheart, pure bread dogs are too expensive.  We just can’t justify putting that kind of money into a pet.” He kept up the pressure though, until I said, “Ok, if this is so important to you, pray about it and see what God does.”  Honestly, I said that to just get the kid off my back.

But my boy took me seriously, and he prayed.  Not long after, our pastor gave a sermon illustration about his black lab (who knew he owned one?) who was pregnant.  My son craned his neck around my husband to glare at me there in the pew.  And a few days later, the pastor offered a free puppy to my children.  Still, I hesitated.  Did I mention we already had a dog?  And that I didn’t want two?

Ah, but now my daughter joined the chorus.  “Mama, pleeeeeeeeease.  Please?  It’s free.  And if you’ll just let us get a black lab puppy, we will never want anything again in our entire lives.” 

Two sets of pleading brown eyes.  Two pure hearts, making promises they truly believed were true. If only they had this one thing – this puppy – they would be content.  They’d never desire another thing again.  I knew that thinking was false.  But they sincerely believed it. And I love them.  And I’d told him to pray about it.  How could I say “no?” So, the puppy came home with us.

He’s now a beautiful, full-grown, chew-everything-sight, sit-in-the-water-dish, run-off-with-anything-you-leave-in-the-backyard dog.  My kids love him, but he annoys them, too.  Are you surprised that he didn’t make their lives complete?  That they still want other things, despite the fact that they got the puppy?  That iPhones and Furbys and just plain old cash have taken the place of the puppy – that if only they had those things, they’d be content for the rest of their lives?

It’s easy to laugh at the foolishness of children, who truly thought a puppy would fulfill them forever.  But, we as adults often do the same thing.  “If only I had a better job, or a spouse, or a decent house, I would be content.  Life would work then.”

Or, we can even substitute “spiritual” things.  Before I left for Africa, it was: “If only I were already missionary, if only I was done with seminary and finally on the mission field, I’d be content.” After I got to Africa?  “Oh, things would be so much easier if only I lived a normal life in the States.”

My children and I have to learn this one truth:  Christ alone fulfills us.  He will never leave us or forsake us.  And focusing on Him, making Him our chief desire, enables us to be content with whatever material possessions or life situations we have.  Puppy or no puppy, spouse or no spouse, America or Africa, my current salary or a higher one – Christ is all I need. He is my source of fulfillment.  And being satisfied with Him is peace.