The Good Old Days

July 16, 2014

Perhaps we all feel like there are too many ‘needs’ for the amount of money in our pocket.

Consider these prices: 

One gallon of gasoline: -- $  .16

One quart of oil: ---------- $  .15

Haircut: -------------------- $  .25

Roll of toilet paper: -----  $  .25

Telephone bill: - $2.25/month

Three pounds of rice: --- $  .18

Gallon of milk: ----------  $  .12

One dozen eggs: --------- $  .22

A bakery-type apple pie: $  .10

Two loaves of bread: ---- $  .10

Two pounds of butter: -- $  .25

Do you envy the good old days?

Consider those prices in the context of life during those times. It was 1930, the Great Depression. The average income from 1930-1933 was $3 a week, if you could work. Many couldn’t find jobs, and they actually tried to find work.

We once had a vacuum cleaner that did not work (for my children’s sake, let me clarify that this was not during the Great Depression). We scraped the rug with a brush to take off the cat and dog hair stuck to it. I remember thinking, if only we had a vacuum cleaner that worked. I felt ecstasy when my husband brought home a vacuum cleaner--brand new and heavy duty. Within a month, that vacuum was having difficulty as well. Do we really have that much dirt?

I have slowly learned that new doesn’t mean better and improved doesn’t mean perfect. Although I know it in my head, working it out in daily life has been an exercise in re-learning. My motto “We are not in heaven yet” reminds me that life is not perfect. “This world is not my home, I’m just a-passin’ through.” I will have perfect in heaven—not here.

When I remind myself of these things, I can evaluate a purchase better. Do I really need another…? Will it really solve all my problems? I find that I don’t purchase as many things, and I am happier with less.

I complain less. I understand things aren’t going to last forever. (Do I really want this rug to last forever? Then I couldn’t get a new and improved one!)

I choose to be content.

Paul may not have been a woman who liked to spend money, but he did have a verse for me. “I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. 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.” Philippians 4:11-12.

When I think of contentment, an illustration from C.S. Lewis comes to mind. A demon, who was instructing another, described a distinguished lady who just wanted ‘a cup of tea.’ She complained that no one could make her that perfect cup of tea. She bemoaned the fact. The demon explained if she was consumed with that cup of tea, she was not a threat to their mission. How much is God’s mission jeopardized because I can’t be content?

Hebrews 13:5 “…being content with what you have.” Paul wasn’t debating on purchasing a new convenient tool or product.

When were these words written? During a time when Paul received a scrap of food and dirty water occasionally, which he shared with the rats. He sat on the cold, stone floor but couldn’t lean on the wall because of the wounds on his back. He didn’t have a septic system, other than the end of his chain. Light didn’t reach his cell, so darkness was all he knew. His companion, if he had one, was unkempt and smelled as bad as he. But he was content.

“But godliness with contentment is great gain.” I Timothy 6:62

Guess I don’t need that carpet.

Guess I should be content.

Makes me look forward to heaven, doesn’t it you? Where perfect actually exists and where the rug won’t even be missed.

1Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE, Copyright 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.

2Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE. NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers.

Displaying 1 comment

You really have me thinking this morning, am I content? And you know, it's not just material things that one can want for, there's much else also. So thanks for making me discontent with myself, and praying for contentment in all.

Author of Biblical fiction, married to my best friend, and challenged by eight sons’ growing pains as I write about what matters.

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