We live in a consumer-driven society where bumper sticker wisdom tells us, “He who dies with the most toys wins.” However, the empty promises of rampant consumerism will often leave people with the feeling that there has to be more to life than simply accumulating more stuff. There is an old saying: “Enough is as good as a feast and having just enough can be as good as having much of something.”
When is enough ever enough?
An old Native American story serves to teach us a valuable lesson:
Many moons ago, at the end of each summer season, salmon swam up the Cheakamus River to spawn. During this time, the people of the Squamish Nation would fish and store their catch for the coming winter.
One day, a man came to the river to do just that. He cast his net into the water and in minutes had enough fish to feed his family into the next spring. He packed his catch in cedar baskets and prepared to haul them away.
But as he started to leave, he turned to look at the river and the abundance of fish it held. Not satisfied with what he already had, he cast his net into the water once more and pulled out a bounty of salmon. He emptied his net on the shore and admired his catch. Now he had enough fish to feed two more families until the spring.
Yet instead of leaving, the man wondered just how many fish the river would give to him. Surely his good fortune that day was nearing some kind of record! Ecstatic, he tossed his net to the water for a third time. But when he pulled it back in, the net was ripped and tangled with sticks and muck.
Oh well, he thought. He had the other fish already. And when he looked toward the salmon he’d left on the shore, he saw only piles of rocks in their place. Alarmed, he ran to his cedar baskets but found only twigs and roots in them.
Then he noticed Wountie, the Great Spirit protector of the river. Wountie told the man that he had broken the ring of harmony with the river—and that Nature had expressed her displeasure by withholding her gifts from him. The man was sorry for hurting Nature’s balance, and journeyed home empty-handed.
It was a fishing season that man would never forget. He and his family would long recount the year they learned that enough is plenty.
With all that is going on in the world and in our lives, we would do well to take this lesson to heart. Being greedy isn’t the answer to the scarcity mindset. When greed consumes a person, they are actually left empty-handed because they will always have the feeling of wanting more. And, because they always want more, they are never fully satisfied.
As we quickly approach the Thanksgiving holiday, ask God to help you appreciate what you have in front of you. Consider all your many blessings and praise God for them. Be thankful that having enough is plenty. As the proverb says, “The blessing of the Lord makes rich, and he adds no sorrow with it” (10:22).
Pastor Steve Pierce
Follow Pastor Steve on Twitter @revspierce