Let me tell you of a dream I once had that really impressed me. In fact, the impression still lingers. In the dream it appeared that I was on my way home from a long field trip back in the years when I was connected with the Pacific Press, our publishing house in California. In those days most traveling was done by train. As I approached the depot in the town where I had filled my last speaking appointment on the trip, I heard the engine bell ringing. The conductor was standing near the corner of the depot and looking my way. He beckoned vigorously and I knew he wanted me to hurry, but I could not. My suitcase seemed to be unusually heavy, and my legs felt like heavy iron posts.
Then I remembered that I had some extra things in my suitcase—things I had bought at a sale thinking I could use them someday. They were heavy metal articles, and the thought flashed before me that after all they were not really essential to my use. Since they were on one side of the case all tied together I decided to open the case quickly and dump them out so I could run and catch that train. I did so. At once I was greatly relieved and I moved ahead rapidly. How thankful I felt as I stepped onto the train!
What was the lesson for me in that simple dream? To travel light as I journey through life. And this is a lesson that all of us, as Christians, need to learn. We think we need many things as we go along, but we are mistaken and often deceived. It would be a great blessing for most of us to give to the needy at least half of the things that fill our homes and our "suitcases." As Christians we are to remember the example of our Lord in this matter. He lived the life of a poor man, and was able to be cheerfully content with the simplest of life's furnishings. He had its bare necessities, tasted now and then its simple comforts, lacked and was content to lack its luxuries. No other human passion is either as hungry or as dissatisfied as is the passion for things, the passion for display. The more one feeds this desire, the more it grows. Then follows an unrest and hunger of spirit, with certain disappointment as the sure reward.
It is vanity that disturbs people today, keeping many in a fever—a fever that is never abated through the acquirement of things. If we are more slenderly endowed than others with this world's goods, let us believe it to be God's will, and the devil of envy and covetousness will not bother us. Let us improve what little we may possess, and enjoy doing so. There is real contentment in being master of one's circumstances, and in cultivating the spirit of gratitude. The happiest folks are not so much concerned about gathering things as they are about sharing their blessings with others.
Blessed are they who turn away from the soft and woolly luxuries of this age, and find the enduring satisfaction that comes with the life of simplicity. Remember the words of Jesus: "A man's life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth" (Luke 12:15).