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Fewer, Better Toys

January 26th, 2010

And When I Die With Them, I Keep Them

Last night I watched Jazz with Marv and Maynard, and I enjoyed some Knob Creek and a Coke chaser. Then I went to bed, and while I was getting ready to sleep, I started thanking God for all the little pleasures in my life.

It was quite a list. It seems like the more mature I get, the better I am able to enjoy things. I eat less than I used to. I drink less. I quit smoking cigars. I try to curb my baser appetites, and I try to be more responsible. And I believe God works in me, making these things happen. As excess disappears from my life, the things I enjoy stand out more, perhaps because they’re not lost in the background noise of constant overindulgence.

Let’s see. I enjoy squeezing my pets and conversing with them. I enjoy the food I cook. I enjoy working on my musical skills. I love listening to good jazz and classical music. I love shooting and reloading. I look forward to having breakfast with my dad once a week. I love using my tools. I smile every time I see the ridiculous diesel pickup I bought. Every time I walk into my church, I feel like a kid running through the gate at Disneyland; I always know something good is going to happen.

The time I set apart for prayer and study is wonderful. Every session is a miniature Sabbath. It’s a sanctuary no one can intrude on, and more often than not, I sense God’s presence, and I feel like I’ve gotten a breakthrough.

You can have too much stuff in your life. You can have so much going on, you can’t appreciate any of it or do any one thing well. That’s very natural for me, as anyone who reads my blog knows, so I’m very glad God is adjusting me. Who knows? One day I might actually sell one of my motorcycles or even my flamenco guitar.

I’m keeping the milling machine and the Powermatic 66, however.

Covetousness. That was my problem. It’s not so much that I wanted what other people had; it’s that I wanted things that wouldn’t really bring me satisfaction. I used to buy stuff and then fail to enjoy it, because I thought too much about the things and not enough about the effort and time involved in deriving pleasure from them, so they sat and rotted. I still like to get toys, but now I get good use out of them, and I think that is because God is changing me and guiding me. It’s pretty unusual for me to regret spending money or time these days. I generally get a good return.

Somewhere in the Bible, it says something about how sad it is when a man has something he can’t enjoy. That’s what life without God is all about. You get rich, but you end up in rehab. You become famous, only to find that the thing you want most is privacy. Things like that happen. We don’t know which way we should go or what we should do, so we turn up blind alleys and end up with things that don’t bring us happiness. On the other hand, God promises us that if we’ll listen, he’ll guide us. He says, “I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way which thou shalt go: I will guide thee with mine eye. Be ye not as the horse, or as the mule, which have no understanding: whose mouth must be held in with bit and bridle, lest they come near unto thee.”

We don’t know what we need or what we want. We can’t know. The world is too complicated, and we’re not smart enough to see all the angles. Only God can know. So he gave us a system in which we obey him and listen to him, and he gives us what we should have. He gives us things that are truly satisfying, and which have lasting value. And at the end of our time, we don’t stand before God poor and blind and naked, which is what happens to people who amass the wrong kind of wealth. The stuff we take wrongly, we lose. We only keep that which we were intended to have.

I wish I could go back in time to about 1971 and slap myself. But like the relatives of the rich man in the parable about hell, I would not have listened.

Long ago, when I thought I was about to have a comic strip syndicated, I cut photos of sportfishing yachts out of magazines, and I taped them to walls and so on, to give me motivation to work. That seems funny now. What if I had succeeded? I’d be a big, fat, conceited (more than I am now) lout who thought he made it without God’s help. I’d have shallow friends who drank all the time and never set foot in a church. I’d have no relationship with God, because I’d think I didn’t need one. The yachting crowd is coarse and venal; I know them. I would have gotten sick of them in two seasons. I’m much better off with the folks who attend church on Saturday night.

I thought I knew what I needed, but I wasn’t even close.

I don’t know where I’m going, and I admit, I wish God would hurry up, but I know that things are better than they used to be, and the trend is positive, and it’s a trend I can trust. I’m not building on sand.

I don’t know if buying a cornet was a good idea, but it will be fun for at least two months, and it will cost very little. I actually prayed about it, and I really felt like I should try it. Weird.

I feel like a piece of rough lumber somebody is jointing and planing and sanding into shape. Life gets more enjoyable all the time. I even appreciate the problems and setbacks. Now they seem to have meaning, and every one ends up blessing me. It’s hard to harm someone who walks with God, because God takes everything you throw at him and makes it a help to him.

All that stuff Jesus said; it looks like it’s actually TRUE. That’s wild. I never thought he was lying, but it’s still impressive when I see his words confirmed.

3 Responses to “Fewer, Better Toys”

  1. aelfheld Says:

    “There’s a divinity that shapes our ends,
    Rough-hew them how we will.”

  2. 7U Says:

    I envy you for the peace you have found…

  3. Peg Says:

    Mr Mollo and Sunny are one of the highlights of my life. Truly. Always amazing to me that a little cockatiel and even littler budgie can have so much personality, intelligence and spirit.

    If you haven’t ever squeezed a parrot, you do not know what you’re missing.

    Glad to hear you are appreciate what really matters in life, Steve.