Thursday, November 26, 2020 01:26

Delay What?

no new stuff, stewardship, materialism

Could she be serious?  Carrie Fisher once quipped: “Instant gratification takes too long.”  And I suspect for most Americans, she is right.

In a society of instant potatoes, microwave ovens, quick cash and easy credit, we know nothing of delayed gratification.  However, learning the value of delayed gratification is one of the secrets of contentment.  (It’s the third one I’ve blogged about, if you’re counting.)

When everything comes easy, nothing is valued.  Instant gratification lessens satisfaction.  On the other hand, greater satisfaction and deeper appreciation come from saving, anticipating, and buying stuff with cash.

Granted, a certain amount of stuff is normal in civilized society. We have come to accept our modern conveniences as necessities.  Take the refrigerator for example.  We could go back to ice boxes, I suppose, but most people would say that a refrigerator is basic to how we live.  Yet there’s a lesson to be learned in how we go about acquiring the “essential” stuff of everyday life. Let me illustrate.

When Litsa and I were first married, we lived in a humble apartment at Denver Seminary during the final year of my Masters program.  A refrigerator was furnished.  We knew that upon graduation, we would be moving to a tiny little house near the church where I would be serving.  No refrigerator was furnished. 

We had a problem, but God solved it.  Litsa’s cousin was married to an in-coming seminary student who, as a wedding present, had just received a brand new harvest gold refrigerator from his grandmother.  When Jeff and Tina set up housekeeping in the seminary apartments, they wouldn’t need that refrigerator, but since it was a wedding gift, they didn’t want to sell it.  But storing a refrigerator could also be an issue.

Kind and generous souls that we were, we offered to solve Jeff and Tina’s problem.  We would store and use their refrigerator for three years until Jeff’s graduation.  And I even agreed to do it without charging them any fees for storage or electricity!  (I know.  I’m nice.)  It was a good deal for everyone.  Ah, but when Jeff approached graduation, then we had another problem: He wanted his refrigerator back. 

By then, we were in our own home and had managed to save a few dollars. We could afford a new refrigerator.  However, I, being the spiritual leader of the household, announced that I thought it was better for us to pray about our need and ask God to supply.  My wife, being a dutiful wife and also very spiritual, agreed to pray about it and see what God would do.  One condition she imposed—“Don’t make me buy a used refrigerator.”

I believe in praying specifically, don’t you?  So I asked my wife what she desired in a new refrigerator.  Same size as Tina and Jeff’s would be fine.  Freezer on the top was preferable.  And there was a “new” color on the market . . . could she please have almond?

One day The Thrifty Nickel newspaper arrived at our doorstep, and my wonderful wife sat down and carefully read the ads to find out if anyone was selling a refrigerator.  Moments later I got a breathless call for her saying she had set up an appointment for us to see a new refrigerator a general contractor was offering for sale. 

In this man’s garage we found the answer to our prayers.  A brand new refrigerator the same size as Jeff and Tina’s, with the freezer on the top, and it was, of course, almond!  And to prove God’s grace is more than sufficient, the contractor sold us the refrigerator for his wholesale price.

That refrigerator served our family well for over 30 years.  We had the money to buy one at retail price, but because we were willing to delay gratification and pray and ask the Lord for His supply, He gave us all we needed, all we wanted, and at an even better price. 

Delayed gratification is a tough thing in our culture.  Seldom taught and even more seldom practiced.  I just wonder how many blessings are being missed because we don’t delay gratification.  It is one secret of contentment that should be trumpeted.

Questions:  Why do you think delayed gratification is so seldom practiced?  Have you had a positive experience when you practiced delayed gratification?  What is another secret of contentment?

Day 28: NEW STUFF = 0

© 2011, Linden Kirby, Excel Ministries, Inc.  All rights reserved. 

2 Responses to “Delay What?”

  1. Lauren says:

    I love this refrigerator story–it really is great to show God's amazing grace to supply for all our needs (even our wants) and bless us in the process when we are "bold" enough to come to Him first.  I know the story well, but it's important to hear it again and remind myself that my self-sufficience is not really what God wants from me–He wants my reliance on Him even more!