I had my own little light bulb moment this week as a friend and I opened our Bibles together and talked about what God had been showing us and read some passages together. I've been thinking about what it means to be born and raised in America and what it should mean for me and the world.
I've always known that it is a privilege to be born here in the U.S.A. There are so many destitute, war torn, corrupt countries that I could have been born into, yet I was spared. Oh I know it's not perfect here, really I do. And I also know there are those in need here. Perhaps I was doubly spared. I am far from rich by America standards but I have not gone hungry or homeless.
Enter light bulb moment...
I've always been aware that I need to be a giver. I've tried to give what I could. But to be honest, it was what I could comfortably give. Not that it didn't make me squirm sometimes, but I have never cleaned out my account to give, I have not given my last meal, or all that I have.
I realized that God put me in America so that I could have the means to help. There's really no other reason I can think of. I am not better than those in devastating circumstances, and I am not more loved by God than those. In fact, on the contrary, of late I have read verse after verse after verse of the intense affection and protection that God feels for the poor and destitute.
That leaves only one option. I have so that I might give. I am a steward. As my pastor reminded us on Sunday, a steward is a manager of that which he does not own. It belongs to someone else, to God.
"But just as you excel in everything--in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in complete earnestness and in your love for us--see that you also excel in the grace of giving." 2 Corinthians 8:7
This begs the question, how much do I keep and how much do I give away? The very question shows I have a far distance left to travel on this journey. The fact that I would ask that shows I have a lot to learn. I am praying and practicing opening my hands and speaking the word "yes." I pray I learn the whole lesson on this side of heaven. And I pray I practice that lesson for all I am worth.
In my last post, I mentioned the "burden of stuff." I have been asked what I meant and I am glad to be asked because I need to stay conscious of it and well defined.
Possessions are a burden. You have to store them, clean them, maintain them, sort through them, declutter them, fix them. You think you own them, but they own you. Stuff is a drug. You get some, you want more. When it no longer fits in the house, you find yourself wishing for a bigger house. We all get sick over shows like "Hoarders". But really, how much is enough in our own house?
Most of us, seemingly rich or seemingly poor, are drowning in stuff. We need to declutter. We can't keep up with what is coming into our homes. We get rid of the stuff we wanted last year or in past years because Christmas is coming and we know our closets can't hold more. I'm looking around my house and I am sickened. I want it gone.
I don't want to take care of it, clean it, maintain it or even have the Lord come back and see it in my hands. It's a weight on my back and I want it gone. Someone else can use it or sell it. I've got a plan for it and I am setting my plan in motion. God has better plans for me than to be the owner of stuff. I tried my plan and I am weary of chasing the wind. I didn't even know I had adopted such a plan. It snuck in...the American Dream...it's a deception...it's really a nightmare. It's a nightmare for me because it will never satisfy. It's a nightmare for the world because while I chase the TV show looking kitchen (etc.), I literally take food out of someone else's mouth to pay for it. It's money that is more useful given away to ease suffering.
I don't want to build wealth. It's burning my hands and searing my heart. I don't have all the answers. But I know I need to turn around and go in the opposite direction.
"He who gives to the poor will lack nothing, but he closes his eyes to them receives many curses." Proverbs 28:27
"She opens her arms to the poor and extends her hands to the needy." Proverbs 31:8