I always get a start when I pass a wooded section that has been standing for several years, and find that it has been taken down, soon to be replanted with small saplings. And I have noticed several times that when the trees are removed, a rundown wooden shack sits in the open, formerly hidden by the rows and rows of sixty foot tall pines. The porch sags, the roof waffles, the windows are paneless, with dangling shutters or none at all. There are no power lines and no well tanks. These dilapidated houses may have been empty nearly a hundred years.
I find myself wondering who lived there. None of these places could be more than twenty by twenty, many smaller, probably with one or two rooms, three at the most. Kitchens were often on the back porch because of the heat and humidity in this area; families bathed in wash tubs in the kitchen or on the back porch, and outhouses were the plumbing of the day. Did a young couple raise a family there? In those days, they often had as many as nine or ten children. When it rained they all had to play inside!
And when it rained the roof leaked. When the winter wind blew, it seeped in between the board or log walls. And no telling what might crawl in through the cracks in the floor boards—if there was even a floor. Yet I know happy families lived there, and good citizens grew up from such poverty. I know some of those elderly people and they talk of those days with a lot of smiles and chuckles.
Yet here I sit, complaining because sometimes on a clear, still day in the country your electricity goes out for no apparent reason, and if the wind blows at all you can count on it. No electricity means no air conditioning and no well pump. Whenever a new neighbor moves in between me and the highway, the phone company will inevitably cut my line when they put in the new one. And I don’t have a thing to wear! Well, if I lost ten pounds I might. I wonder if those folks who lived in that shack had enough food to even worry about getting too heavy.
These little shacks are reminders to me to be grateful for what I have, and not to covet the material blessings of another. I can be happy anywhere. I can raise godly children anywhere. I can make a good marriage anywhere. I can be a child of God no matter where I live or how. But no mansion on earth will make me happy if that is all I care about.
Godliness with contentment is great gain, for we brought nothing into this world for neither can we carry anything out; but having food and covering we shall with that be content. 1 Tim 6:6-8.