Your conduct must be free from the love of money and you must be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you and I will never abandon you.” (Hebrews 13:5)

“There’s one coming toward you. Get it.” 

I pointed into warm, calf-deep water at a parrot fish as it darted from one clump of rocks to another. Polynesians joined me in herding our prey toward a woman with a machete. Her job was to club the fish. Children squealed and laughed, as they carted each dinner catch to the boat.

For two months, I was privileged to live in a Fijian village for language immersion. Communal lawns separated the two dozen houses, and ran down to the beach, where palms leaned over a turquoise reef. Fish, gardens, and coconuts sustained life.

More than the local language, I learned about contentment. At first, I was fidgety and doubted I’d stay long. There was no electricity, indoor plumbing, or even a store. What did these people do with themselves for sixteen hours each day?

I forced myself to learn the rhythm of the village, to do what they did, when they did it. Each morning, before sunrise, we heard the lali drum—a hollowed log beat with two sticks that made a flat, thunking sound. It was the call to wake and begin personal devotions. Soon after, women started fires in their outdoor kitchens, children washed their faces and donned their school uniforms, and men collected a few papaya or breadfruit.

Throughout the day, one task led to another, but there was never a hurry. Wringing the wash out, weaving a grass matt, or herding parrot fish—everything was done while chatting and laughing, and almost always in a group. What these people didn’t have was furniture, electronics, or cars. What they did have was community, natural food, and serenity. They lived content, refreshingly immune of the ambition to own more or achieve a higher status.

Missionaries have more to learn than they have to teach—at least this one does. I needed the islanders to teach me a slower lifestyle, and freedom from mania over my next toy or experience.

Prayer: Generous Father, let me rest content in your salvation today.