It was a bright, sunny day when my mother dropped me off for the first day of fourth grade. I proudly strolled into the building, carrying my most prized possession—my pink floral backpack. I had been looking forward to showing it off to the other students for days. But as the other children flooded by, I began to notice something. Instead of carrying their backpacks on their backs, it seemed like everyone was rolling their backpacks on the floor.
I took a closer look around. Everyone—and I mean everyone—had a rolling backpack. They came in a variety of mesmerizing, bright colors. Some even had wheels that glowed as they rolled down the hallway.
All of a sudden, my most prized possession was nothing more than some stitched-together rags. I had to have a rolling backpack. Throughout the school day, it was all I could think about. I was determined to get my hands on one as soon as possible. I quickly learned where I could buy one and how much it would cost. I was sure my mom would support me in this endeavor.
When I arrived home later that afternoon, I immediately told my mother about my amazing discovery—and my desperate need for a rolling backpack. She was not thrilled at all. I had just gotten my pink floral backpack a few days ago; we had bought it specifically for the new school year. There was nothing wrong with this backpack in my mother’s mind. In my mind, it was worthless—it did not have wheels like everyone else’s. I explained to my mom countless times why I needed a rolling backpack, but she did not budge at all.
The next day, I was thoroughly depressed as I walked the halls and watched everyone else roll their backpacks while I had to carry mine on my back. Days, weeks, months, years, millennia passed by. I asked for a rolling backpack every day, but my mom never gave in. I grew more and more impatient.
Then, one day, everything changed. A few months into the school year, my family and I walked into Target to do some shopping. I immediately began to plead with my mother to buy me a rolling backpack. To my complete surprise, she agreed to do it. We turned down the aisle with all the backpacks, and suddenly it was like the clouds opened up and the sun shined down upon the rows and rows of backpacks in front of me. I stood gaping in front of the vast selection for a few seconds, and then I rushed over to the most pink and glittery backpack I could find. I walked out of Target that day in sheer awe, cradling my new most prized possession in my arms.
That night, I transferred all of my heavy school materials—a binder, folder and pencil—into my rolling backpack. I could hardly sleep that night because of how excited I was to roll that backpack through the school doors.
I strutted into school the next morning as if I were the President of the United States. I was invincible with my sparkly backpack rolling on the floor behind me.
There was just one problem. Though I walked on the smooth, white tile floor of the school’s hallways for the majority of the day, my classroom was actually in a trailer outside the building. The trailer had a gravel walkway leading up to it, and the rocks were the perfect size to get stuck inside a rolling backpack’s wheels. I didn’t take this into account at all, and I rolled my backpack over the rocks every day. Within a couple of weeks, my wheels were ruined, and my long-coveted rolling backpack did not roll anymore. It was worthless. The happiness I felt from receiving what I had wanted for so long was gone as quickly as it had come. I was right back where I started.
This incident taught me an important lesson that I carry with me to this day: Always be grateful for what you have. There will always be something bigger and better out there—something that makes what we have look like nothing at all. If we lust after those things, however, we will never be content with what we do have. Coveting something that we don’t have only makes us dissatisfied and miserable. It also breaks the Tenth Commandment, which is: “Thou shalt not covet” (Exodus 20:17; Deuteronomy 5:21).
When we covet, we are putting whatever we want before God. That breaks the First Commandment (Exodus 20:3). When we put something before God, we are essentially worshiping it in place of God, which is a form of idolatry. That breaks the Second Commandment (Exodus 20:4). Not only does coveting make us dissatisfied with what we have, it also directly violates three of God’s Commandments. We will never be happy if we covet.
If we remain grateful and appreciative for what we have, however, we will be happy—even if we don’t have many physical possessions to speak of. Happiness is not determined by the number of physical possessions we have. It’s determined by how much we yield ourselves to God and put Him first in our lives.
God always provides us with what we need. But if we truly do put Him first, He will also give us the desires of our heart (Matthew 6:33; Psalm 37:4-5). We just have to be willing to seek Him first, obey Him unconditionally, and wait patiently and faithfully for Him to fulfill His promises.
Until He does, don’t make the same mistake I did. Remain thankful for what you do have, and look forward to the day when God will give you what you desire as well—even if it’s something as simple as a pink, glittery rolling backpack.