I know my Heavenly Father is rich. Yeah, yeah. I know. He owns the cattle on a thousand hills and all that.
I’m a Christian, have been for over 40 years, but wow, you can carry some crazy, mixed up buried kinda feelings into your life with Jesus if you’re not careful.
I was sitting outside on the deck the other day—a favorite place of mine where I’m learning God will show up to speak if I’m still and ready to listen.
A lightbulb came on illuminating some of the dark thinking that had permeated my mind in a most sneaky like way.
I grew up pretty poor in the 60’s—the oldest of 5 children with a dad who worked sporadically and where our income varied accordingly. Needs were barely managed. Wants were never considered.
My memories include varying degrees of poverty in my childhood–My mother made my sister’s and my dresses out of curtains or hand me down fabric. There were fights each year on Christmas Eve because the presents under the tree would be next to nothing. My high school years were spent pining for wardrobes just like all my girlfriends’.
And could I please, pretty please……have a coke?? (Cokes were 10 cents a bottle at the time.) Pretty much out of the question.
I realized this mindset of not-enough-ness in the physical realm had been driving my thinking and actions in the unseen areas of my life–in my thoughts and attitudes. God graciously whacked me over the head about it as He and I sat outside in the quiet.
It was a quiet whack.
I was reading the book of Ecclesiastes (hadn’t been there for a while) and a conversation from the night before came to mind. Sort of like this:
I purposely did not say, “Hi, how are you?” Purposely. We were walking up the same path towards the same place, stepping aside in the dark and the rain as we approached the door.
I was exhausted. The last four days were spent camping out on the floor of my son’s house, staying over to help with last minute repairs and painting before his family moved out of their home to a new place. There was exactly one hour between my arrival home and my about face to get to This Next Thing. I was at the end of my rope, and I was feeling needy.
Like I wanted to someone to ask ME how I was doing. Oh, please, let me launch into a tale of sleepless nights, crazy grandkids and donuts for dinner. You just wouldn’t believe the last four days.
Yep, it was all about me. Selfish with a capital “S”.
I even made up a little song as I sat there: (to the tune of ‘I feel Pretty’ from ‘West Side Story’)
I feel stingy
Oh so stingy
I feel stingy
And selfish and sad.
But my Father
Knows that giving all
Will make me feel glad
As I looked back over the evening I realized my body was there but the rest of me—soul, mind and spirit were not. I never got any closer to this sister whom I was sharing space with, as if the Not Talking When We First Met breach had caused an invisible dividing line between us and I refused to fill in. I never inquired about her week, withheld my precious brain space and emotions from her because I did not have enough.
But the only loser was me.
Funny how the Holy Spirit can speak so clearly when you ‘just happen’ to read something you haven’t read in a while:
Ecclesiastes Chapter 11
“Cast your bread upon the waters, for you will find it after many days.
Give a portion to seven, yes, even divide it to eight,
for you know not what evil may come on the earth.” (vv.1,2)
Give with a capital “G”. Give with hands wide open expecting nothing in return.
When I thought about my actions the night before I realized what I had been doing–I decided to close my hand and hold on tight to my reserves. I wasn’t about to honor a friend with the time of day because I expected her to honor me first.
(I can’t believe I’m typing that, but it’s exactly the way I felt. I know Jesus and I should know better.)
“He who observes the wind (and waits for all conditions to be favorable)
will not sow and he who regards the clouds will not reap.” Eccl 11:4
I was so busy being selfish with my eyes on my own stuff I couldn’t see past my nose and my needs to even consider someone else.
I was too busy looking for “favorable conditions.”
The result? I certainly didn’t reap anything. At the end of the day, there was no joy shared, no life exchanged, no ministry to my spirit or my sister’s.
Just plain old see-through emptiness.
And to cap it all off, in case I wasn’t really listening, God continues:
“In the morning sow your seed, and in the evening withhold not your hand;
for you know not which shall prosper,
this or that, or whether both alike will be good.” V. 6
“Withhold not your hand.” In plain English? “Open your hands wide and I will fill them. Even when you’ve nothing to give. Especially when you’ve nothing to give.
God’s gentle voice continued,
“I am not like your father, My supply does not depend on anyone’s performance, anyone’s job or ability to provide. I.Just. Am. You can count on me.
I am not limited, my resources will never run out.”
I want to remember to just give. Give with an open hand, knowing and trusting that not only will God meet my needs but that He has enough for me to give away. And the seeds I give away will bear fruit.
Fruit like friends and friendship. And even silly songs.