State of the Union

Just a couple of weeks ago President Obama gave The State of the Union Address. He was positive on several points. However, the small improvements at the “Union” level, don’t seem to trickle down to the Ashworth house in Littlepersonville, USA. The things that affected me last year are affecting me today, and will tomorrow.

For instance, minimum wage doesn’t keep up with the rising cost of living. Our utility bills go up, fuel costs go up, health insurance goes up, but our wages stay the same. In the military we are dealing with cuts in many areas to accommodate for the nation’s budget, yet the bills still come in like clockwork, and they aren’t decreasing anytime soon.

I’m just blessed to know that the state of my union doesn’t depend on the state of the Union. My family will be okay regardless of how positive or negative the current Presidential Administration paints the picture, because I know the truth and can plan accordingly.

From one Table to Another

If you type “cost of living+your state” into a search engine, you may find a result that you understand, and you may not. It is likely that you’ll find a table filled with numbers, percentages, positives, and negatives, and comparisons of one place to another.

The cost of living, whether rising or falling, is more visible on another table, though, my table, to be exact. Some days our dining room table is filled with all the food groups. When we have enough for the kids to have a second helping, we put the food on the table. Some days it is sparse, and we make the plates in the kitchen. Somedays we have treats, juice, milk. Other days we drink water.

The cost of living is just that; it costs us–just to live.

In America the cost of living is calculated by: food, alcoholic beverages, household items, domestic help, etc. All of the things that help us to function on a daily basis make up our cost of living. They all cost. They cost time or money, but they cost. Factored into the calculations are actually things that don’t pertain to me: alcohol and tobacco, for instance. These things don’t pertain to me, yet they affect my cost of living. These things affect the cost of my rent. They affect the cost of my cat food. They affect the cost of my fuel. Whether I live in a good school district affects my cost of living, and I don’t have children in the school.

Cost Compared

It took nearly a year, but fuel prices have finally dropped below $2.00 per gallon in Wyoming. Despite what some people may want or need, when prices go down, they can do so very quickly, or they can do so overtime.

I’m sure most of us can remember the first time costs went up while we were adults  or the first time our cost of living went up. For me, it was when I moved from Missouri to Central Wyoming. Some people may think that Wyoming is just tumbleweeds, horses, and big hats, but it’s actual rich with history, landscapes, and recreation. This adds up to high-cost vacation destinations. We cannot forget the coal and oil industry in Wyoming either. Combined, these factors mean that I pay almost twice what I would in Missouri for rent, insurance, fuel, utilities, groceries, etc. I felt it hard, as soon as we moved in.

Just like I will always remember my first expensive move, I will also remember the first expensive move.

The First Cost

The first couple on earth lived in the first place on earth. Adam and Eve called Eden their home, and in it they didn’t give a second thought to what their home cost them. The Bible says that God created them. He gave them a garden as a home, animals as companions, and plants to eat from. They were instructed to eat whatever they wanted, except from one tree.

Adam didn’t have to feel the pressure of today’s breadwinner. He didn’t have to slave away at a factory or work 40 hours a week to see his paycheck disappear to the government and bill-paying. Adam had only to do one thing: obey.

Unfortunately, Adam and Eve did not obey, and when they sinned, the first cost to them was shame. Genesis 3:8 says that when they heard God coming, “they hid themselves from the presence of the Lord.”

Chapter 3 goes on to explain the cost of that sin: enmity between them and the serpent (which over generations has become fear between mankind and animals), pain during childbirth, weeds to hinder plant growth, and hard work in order to eat from the earth.

God did not wean Adam and Eve off their low-cost-living slowly. It’s not as if they were permitted to “work” an hour or two per day, and then allowed back into their beautiful garden to eat a delicious meal. No, Genesis 3:24 says “So he drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden Cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life.”

Not only did God drive them out of the garden, and raise the cost of living for them. He placed an armed guard at the gate of the garden. He had no intention of lightening the load for them. And, why would He? He gave them an easy life, a perfectly blissful existence, and they were to only obey.

The Cost Continued

The cost of that first sin still touches us today. God commanded us to work to live, commanded women to work to give birth. It was a punishment, yes, but it has become our living. The cost of living may rise and fall, but it can never go back to what is was in the beginning. God gave us everything, and we gave it up. Mankind can never be the same. The economy will not get better; our circumstances as a planet will not get better; and there is no going back.

The ultimate cost of living is dying. Eve wanted to try the forbidden fruit, the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, the only tree from which God commanded them to not eat. They sinned, and the wages of sin is death.

The costs just keep adding up.

Thankfully, that same God that provided the beautiful garden for Adam and Eve still provides life to us. He sent His Son to earth to live and die for us. This is a debt we can never repay, but still He seeks us. He anticipates our joining Him in heaven, where the cost of living is not on us. It is in the scars on the hands of Jesus. He paid the price, and we reap the benefits.

On the days when I can see the cost of living on my own dining table, I remind myself of God’s promises, and the true cost of my living.