“To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.”Colossians 1:27
Father God, your riches are boundless, your love endless, and your provisions unending! While I go throughout my day today help me to take my thoughts off the world’s insufficiencies and turn my eyes to your plentiful ways. Amen
It was only a short time ago that most of us worried about the scarcity of one product – toilet paper. It was a man-made problem borne out fear and selfishness. In fact, one day while at a home improvement store I witnessed a man and woman gleefully overloading their pickup truck with hundreds of rolls of toilet paper. I’m sure their plan was to sell most of it and their excitement was over the thousands of dollars they would make. A small part of me hopes they still have a garage full of toilet paper. My husband’s solution to this dire 21stcentury problem was to install bidets in our bathrooms, therefore eliminating the need for toilet paper. Two points-of-view to the same problem. Scarcity vs. abundance.
We humans have a tendency to always worry about not having enough, whether it be food, water, fuel, trees, love, friends, money, work, or even toilet paper. But God’s plan for us is so completely different. He is always wanting us to model our lives, actions and thoughts to His kingdom—which He shows to be the opposite of scarcity thinking.
"Your love, Lord, reaches to the heavens,
your faithfulness to the skies.
6 Your righteousness is like the highest mountains,
your justice like the great deep.
You, Lord, preserve both people and animals.
7 How priceless is your unfailing love, O God!
People take refuge in the shadow of your wings.
8 They feast on the abundance of your house;
you give them drink from your river of delights.
9 For with you is the fountain of life;
in your light we see light."Psalm 36:5-9
You might be thinking, “that all sounds good but what about droughts and food shortages and waning oil reserves?” To that I say, trust God first for He is always about abundance. Throughout scripture, especially in the letters to the churches, we are reminded about the basic lesson of childhood – sharing. (Something the folks in the pickup truck forgot) You see, God provides. He may provide more to you than you need so that you can give to another. He also provides others with knowledge and skills to discover new ways for God to meet our needs. Abundant thinking is always solution-based rather than fear-based.
I learned a valuable “point of view” lesson once from Dr. Laura Schlessinger about marriage. If you always have the perspective that divorce is not an option then you will always find new solutions to marital problems (barring issues with violence and other abuses). It’s the same with God. If we always have the perspective that God is a god of abundance – overflowing with unending love and grace and mercy for us – then we will seek ways to see Him at work. We will see our own abundance as His tools to serve others.
Friend, God’s kingdom is overflowing with milk and honey. When we see the world in a panic over the latest scarcity-based fear we need to turn our eyes to God. His kingdom of abundance is open to all who call Him Savior and for that we should give Him all glory and honor!
"Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you." 1 Peter 5:7
“I believe Jesus died to deliver ourselves from ourselves. How many of us are just fed up being ourselves all the time?”
The darkness, fury and despair of the young woman sitting next to me grew with each passing minute. We were so close I could feel her shoulder touching mine. Sitting on the airplane we found ourselves in that strange world of invading each other’s personal space while pretending neither existed. Her billowing cloud seem to want to seep over the dividing line of the armrest to pull me in.
This seemingly quiet, unassuming young woman opened her computer and began pounding on her keyboard like the devil itself was trying to escape her fingertips. My eyes drifted to her brightly lit screen. I couldn’t help but notice the many words in all caps. And I was drawn to know what was causing her so much angst. It appeared she was writing a complaint letter about a work environment. As her fingers marched like Roman soldiers across the keyboard, pounding and erasing and pounding some more I couldn’t seem to tear my eyes away from the battle. She was hurt and outraged. She felt betrayed and abused. Her past hurts served as the basis of why her employer should’ve known better. And then those pounding fingers suddenly slammed the lid of the smoking computer closed. Her fury still burned. You could almost see the sparks coming from her.
Over the course of three and half hours I watched this woman join the battle numerous times, editing, adding and pounding. And then she started in on an email to her family. I kept praying that she, once there was internet service, would have a change of heart and not send off the bombs she composed. But alas, before deplaning, she picked up her phone and started, with the same fervor, sending off salvos via text messages. I have never seen a person’s finger move with such speed and aggressiveness. Like driving pass a car accident I couldn’t seem to look away.
I’ve come to realize that God puts me in all types of situations to test and teach me. I was learning a valuable lesson. You see, my tendency to get outrage over “unfair” situations is something I’ve battled with forever. As I watched this young woman blow up at probably everyone in her life, I realized how much I need God to lead me out of my sin. How much I need God to provide me with a different perspective. How much I need to rely on God for peace. What I wanted to do was turn to her and ask if she knew about Jesus. I wanted to wrap Jesus’ love around her. To somehow snap her mind off her problems and look up to God. I could turn and look at this woman and see my own face looking back at me. And I didn’t want to be “that girl.”
In 2019 there were more than 18 million self-help type books sold in the United States. The number of unique titles rose nearly three-fold from 30,897 in 2013 to 85,253 in 2019. That’s a lot of people trying to fix themselves! Isn’t that, so often, what we turn to our friends, co-workers and professionals for – advice on fixing our problems?
Aren’t we exhausted yet trying to fix ourselves? As the world drifts farther from God it shouldn’t be surprising that so many people are working so hard to fix their own problems. Jesus came to save our souls but I believe He also came to save us from ourselves.
“The only way we are ever ready for a change in our life is when we are tired of “me.” When we say we cannot continue to do the work of trying to make ourself happy. We are fed up.”
When we stop striving, stop trying to control what other people think of us, stop trying to please everyone, stop shaming ourselves for our past, stop playing victim, and start putting God as our King, our Creator, our Lord we can release the yoke of our fleshly life.
"Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty." John 6:35
And follow Him. Retire from our self-care routines. Self-care as in trying to fix ourselves. Certainly we take care of ourselves, our minds and bodies. But God always calls us to take a new perspective in every aspect of our lives. When we take time to mediate, what do we mediate on? When we decide what best to eat or how to stay in shape, who do we do it for? Why do we word vomit all over our family or friends trying to get them to see “our side?” For ourselves? Or for our Heavenly Father?
I’ve heard the evangelist teacher Joyce Meyer make this statement many times: “I was always on my mind. I was so selfish.” To change that she created these three steps:
Live to please God, not yourself. You are making a Kingdom investment. And you will always get a great return on your investment.
Refuse to have “me” on my mind all the time. I’m not thinking about what’s wrong with me all the time or how I can get people to do things for me.
Always use money and things to bless people. Don’t use people to get money and things.
Jesus frequently took the focus off Himself and placed it on God. He prayed for help in times of pain and trouble. He told the disciples to look to the Father. He guided new believers to putting away their shame and accepting forgiveness from God. The times He had to solidify His place as the Savior He seemed almost reluctant. The focus for Jesus the man was always God and how to best please Him.
In my study on Revelation, I was asked the question, “How does the fact that Jesus is King of Kings and Lord of Lords affect our everyday choices and decisions?” In other words, getting ourselves, off our own minds and onto the Creator. I’m finally leaning more on Him as my wise counselor. He is my exercise coach, my nutritional advisor, my mental wellness guru. When I see my mind and body as belonging to Him, I realize the responsibility I have to keeping myself focused on what He wants for me. I fail frequently. And when I do I come to Him seeking and receiving forgiveness.
I encountered the young, angry, hurt woman at the end of my trip. Before it had even started however, I failed to grab on to God’s promised peace by my favorite method of failure –outrage. The TSA officer and I had a bit of a confrontation. I blustered and was rude. As I walked away, I realized I was wearing my silver cross around my neck. I may have flushed in embarrassment. I failed to show grace and patience and forgiveness. I took the situation personally. It was all about “me.”
The difference for me at that moment was instead of adding it to my Vault of Shame I lifted it up to God. I had a counseling moment with Him. I felt His disappointment and His love. It set me on course to be more aware of my behavior choices while in the crowded airport.
“We are in the middle between hating sin and sinning. When we aren’t accustomed to making good choices it’s hard. The devil is working against us. The more often we make those good choices it becomes easier.”
And so, on my return flight, as I sat next to the woman with fire bursting from her fingertips, and like lava flowing out on her family, friends, co-workers burning bridges left and right I wanted to be like Jesus. To be able to look her in the eye and know her hurts, her overwhelming pain and say, “follow me.”
And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again. 2 Cor 5:15
It wasn’t a counseling moment for her. Although I prayed for her. It was a reminder message to me. To live for Jesus. To place my thoughts on Jesus. To release my pain and hurts to Him. To stop trying to defend and take care of myself. To trust that He wants the best for me and will guide me to whatever that looks like. To take my mind off me and have the mind of Christ.