I love biographies. Historical movies, books, and even web posts are a great way to get a bird’s-eye view of a life. Through their commendable or detestable examples, we have the benefit of seeing how a life develops and how it ends—either in fame, shame, or maybe obscurity. Sometimes the plot goes places that no fiction writer would dare go.
My husband and I spent a year in a small town in Tanzania. When I say a “small town,” I mean a town with two stoplights, no supermarket, no restaurants to speak of, only one two-story building, and no entertainment! We lived in a simple house with only the most basic furnishings and conveniences.
Imagine if you could go back in time and relive any moment in your life. What decisions would you make differently? What specific moments would you enjoy again? With whom would you spend more time?
I recently watched a movie called About Time,1 where the men of a certain family had the ability to go back in time to correct mistakes or replay moments in their lives. I’m sure at times all of us wish we could have this ability. We could right any wrongs, change unwise decisions, or take our proverbial foot out of our mouth when we had said or done something awkward. We could also learn more about interesting people and topics and have multiple tries to find out what works and what doesn’t.
We children had always wanted a real Christmas tree—a tall, lavishly decorated one, like other families had. It would have “singing” lights, silver tinsel, and glass ornaments dressing its snow-topped branches. And of course, the space beneath it would be overflowing with presents.
I dreamed that I was invited to a luxurious banquet. Everything around me shone with glory and splendor. Crystal goblets were filled with the best wines and all my favorite dishes were present. Then there was the command, “Eat and be happy.”
So I ate and was happy. By the time the desserts were served, I could hardly take another bite, and then …
As a child, I loved to visit my grandmother Sabina’s small house in the mountains. Aunt Iota lived next door, so my sister and I would spend our days exploring with our cousins, going to the waterfall, swimming in the river that ran behind the property, or climbing the many mountains in the Mantigueira Ridge. It was heaven on earth for a city girl like me.
The apostle Paul addressed the issue of wealth in 1 Timothy 6:8–10: “If we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.”1 Having money is not wrong, but loving money is. The abundance of money or the lack of money is less important than our spiritual condition.
“I need money—lots of money!” My friend sighed deeply, stirring his coffee at our kitchen table.
“Why?” I asked him a little surprised. My friend wasn’t poor and seemed to have all he needed to be reasonably happy.
Our true treasures are not money and possessions. Our true treasures are the kingdom of God, His love and interaction in our lives, our salvation, God’s provision and care for us, and our coming rewards. Understanding this puts our finances and their use in the right perspective.
The beginning of a new year is such an interesting time. We often think back over our experiences of the past year as well as look ahead to what the new year will bring. It can be encouraging to see the challenges met, the victories won, the progress made, the commitments carried through, and the blessings we’ve had throughout the previous year. It’s also a time to assess areas where we had hoped we’d make headway but didn’t quite live up to our aspirations. Perhaps there’s something to learn from the hard times and difficulties—or even some outright failures—that we experienced.