Speaker: Mark Vroegop
Scripture: Psalm 115:1-11 and 1 Timothy 6:6-10
Not to us, O LORD, not to us, but to your name give glory, for the sake of your steadfast love and your faithfulness!
Why should the nations say, “Where is their God?” Our God is in the heavens; he does all that he pleases.
Their idols are silver and gold, the work of human hands. They have mouths, but do not speak; eyes, but do not see. They have ears, but do not hear; noses, but they do not smell. They have hands, but do not feel; feet, but do not walk; and they do not make a sound in their throat.
Those who make them become like them; so do all who trust in them.
O Israel, trust in the LORD! He is their help and their shield. O house of Aaron, trust in the LORD! He is their help and their shield. You who fear the LORD, trust in the LORD!
He is their help and their shield. Psalm 115:1-11 (ESV)
But godliness with contentment is great gain, for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content. But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs. 1 Timothy 6:6-10 (ESV)
Before there was Xbox, Playstation, Wii, or Nintendo, there was the Atari 2600, which featured historic and timeless video games like Space Invaders, Asteroids, Frogger, and Donkey Kong. Now I know that I just seriously dated myself, but I remember going to school and all the talk in the hallway was about how cool the new Atari was.
But I also remember when Pac-Man hit the market as an Atari game. Previously Pac-Man was only available as a large game console that could be played at an arcade (think Chuckie Cheese). When I heard that Pac-Man was going to be available, I wanted it – bad! But my parents wisely refused to catch “Pac-Man Fever,” and they told me that if I wanted the new game, I’d have to earn it myself. The game was about $36.00, but that is in the 1980’s so the equivalent value, given inflation, is about $110 today. So, this was a major endeavor.
To raise this money, I collected old newspapers from our neighborhood. At the time, the recycling plant would give a penny for every pound of newspaper. Do the story problem: How many pounds of newspapers does a Pac-Man loving boy have to collect if the price of Pac-Man is $36.00 and the paper exchange is one cent per pound? Answer: 3,600 lbs. of newspapers! That is over almost 2 tons of paper and 1,000 pounds more than a Toyota Corolla!
For weeks I went door-to-door with my red wagon collecting old, stinky newspapers, and when it was difficult to even get a car into the garage, we stuffed the papers into our wood-paneled station wagon and a borrowed trailer and brought them to the recycling plant. And they cut me a check for $36 and some change. Just enough to satisfy my Pac-Man fever.
I remember that experience for a lot of reasons, but I also remember, very vividly, two thoughts or feelings in my ten-year old heart. First, I remember the awkwardness of answering this question after I asked our neighbors for their newspapers: “Oh, what charity are you collecting papers for?” And I also remember that it was only about six months later that a new game hit the market, Pac-Man lost its appeal, and I felt a bit frustrated that it was time for another paper drive. It was my first, very vivid experience with the shallowness of possessions.