Once upon a time in a small fishing village was a young and humble fisherman. He would rise very early to cast his nets, and he would bring in the catch by noon.
He would join his wife and small children for lunch, and spend some time playing with them afterwards while his wife completed her chores. He faithfully took his children to the rest of his day, where they helped him clean and sell the fish at the market.
The younger ones played at his feet and the older learned from their father. In the evenings, there was often a gathering in the village, music and conversation.
One day a businessman was stranded in the town. While waiting for a car part, he met this fisherman at the market and the businessman saw the savvy business dealings of the fisherman. “If I could give you some advice,” he said, “you could quickly turn your business around. You could market your fish for a higher price, and afford a second boat by the end of the year.”
“Why would I want to do that?” the fisherman asked, never looking up as he packaged fish on the table.
“Because then with two boats, you would double profits. It would be long days, and some payroll, some extra boat maintenance too…but you could get a fleet of boats with fisherman working for you! It wouldn’t be long then, and you could even buy a cannery. You could quit fishing altogether! And if you quit fishing altogether, and worked long hours at your very own cannery, you might even be able to retire early. Think of what you would be leaving for your children!”
The fisherman picked up a fussy child at his feet and thought about this for a moment. “Why would I want to retire early?”
The business man replied, “Well, if you retired early, you could go out and fish in the mornings, and then come home to your wife and spend your afternoons with your family. You would even have time to spend with your friends in the community.”
“Whoever loves money never has money enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with his income. This too is meaningless. As goods increase, so do those who consume them. And what benefit are they to the owner except to feast his eyes on them? The sleep of a laborer is sweet, whether he eats little or much, but the abundance of a rich man permits him no sleep.”
These verses popped out this morning as I spent some quiet time. I consider myself modest, I consider myself plain. I don’t need a fancy car or home. And yet, how many times (even this week) has the thought lodged into my mind that I needed just a tiny bit more of something?
There is an old song called “Cash Cow” by Steve Taylor, in which he compares consumerism in modern times to the graven images written about in the days of Moses. The song may not be to everyone’s liking, but there is one line in there-- one truth buried in the lyrics-- on which the whole matter rests:
I deserve better.
Solomon does not mention pride in thepassage above but I find that to be my personal downfall in regards to income satisfaction. And so Solomon asks what good all of this stuff may be to the owner. Temporary comfort begets long-term stress. In contrast, hard work makes for wonderful sleep and a certain type of contentment. Learning to rely on the provisions as they come has its’ own peace, if pride does not get in the way.
And so as I face the day, these goals are mine:
I’m going to spend more time in the sunshine of the day than in the fluorescently dim aisles of a store.
I’m going to spend more time in the hugs and tickles of my young children than in the presence of peers, especially those who lean towards a life of chasing after things.
I’m going to spend more energy trusting for provision than asking for desires.
I’m going to work as hard as I can, and realize that the outcome is enough. And then tonight, I will indeed sleep well!