Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Radical Response: Week 6


Chapter 6:
How Much is Enough?: American Wealth and a World of Poverty

Oh, this chapter is right up my alley. I've been dealing with the plague that "stuff" has brought on my life for a while now. One day several years ago I just woke up and suddenly felt engulfed by it! Everywhere I looked there was more stuff. So much I couldn't even manage it all. It always needed dusting, picking up, putting away, organizing, etc. There was no end. Sadly, my first thought (and the one I went with) was that we needed a bigger house so we'd have a place to PUT all of the stuff. Well, one big house with lots of storage space later, it finally dawned on me:

I can't control the stuff. 

I am overwhelmed by how much there is, and how much work it requires of me! So, basically, the stuff is controlling ME! 

Huh. Considering God's plan is to GIVE out of your abundance...not HOARD out of it, is it any wonder that it got so bad?  

Don't you see? It's a test. And I'm quite sure that most of us are FAILING it on a daily basis. 

So you've been blessed with much. A great salary. A large house. A manicured lawn. Quality furnishings filling every bare wall. And plenty of trinkets, decorative knick-knacks, spare sets of dishes, a wide range of shoe choices, and a well-stocked pantry. What now? Sit around enjoying it all while you view the latest episode of some trite drama on your very large flatscreen? (I hope y'all know I have a very large flatscreen. And I hate it. I love it. I hate it.) Unfortunately, that's what most of us do. And then we go spend some MORE money on ourselves and get ourselves further and further into debt (one kind or another).

But God's plan is to bless YOU so that YOU can see the needs of others and, because of your transformation in Jesus Christ, YOU will have compassion on them and YOU will give YOUR stuff, your money, your time, your gifts...to meet those needs.

Have you passed that test?

I confess, I haven't. 

I've failed miserably.

Because I haven't cared. ("But if anyone has the world's goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God's love abide in him?" 1 John 3:17 ESV)

I haven't cared and I haven't even NOTICED anyone else but myself for SO very long. But what if we noticed that...

"More than twenty-six children today will breathe their last breath due to starvation or a preventable disease."  (emphasis added)

Are you okay with that? Does it bother you at all? Is it just not REAL enough for you? Or is that the kind of statement (or program) that makes you switch the channel on your very large flatscreen?

I mean. That's an atrocity. But it's especially unfathomable in light of the luxuries WE all have and yet are discontented with. Disgusting. And then I think of all the people who actually believe that those in great need like this are there because of a lack of faith or a lifestyle of sin. That as long as we are "in God's will" and obeying Him, etc. we'll have "health and wealth." (Down with the evil Prosperity Gospel!) Here's a news flash: Faith in Christ does not equal worldly prosperity. PLEASE! Consider all His saints all over this dangerous planet risking. their. lives. just to know Him more. That takes faith. US going home to our huge homes with their adjustable thermostats and nice, cozy beds after our fabulous restaurant dinners...well...does NOT.

And that's me! Oh, I've had my moments of despair. I've had my share of financial troubles. I wouldn't, in fact, say I'm free and clear even NOW. But I have not had to watch my children starve right before my very eyes. I have not had to roam the streets looking for shelter. I have not lived in a tiny, poorly-built shack where raw sewage runs right by my door. I have not had to go hungry. I have not had to worship in secret. I have not been without a home or medical care. 

And yet, I often take it all for granted. Wanting more. Keeping more for myself. Giving not nearly enough. 

But here's the great thing about God. God is just awesome enough to take my affluent lifestyle, bring me to my knees by allowing the very thing we Americans all strive for to crush my spoiled-brat spirit, and then cause me and my husband to desire to sell our large home (on the market for 5.5 months now) and most of the stuff in it so we can get out from under debt's very large thumb...so that we can have a surplus of money each month. A surplus of money with which we can help send missionaries, we can give away to the poor, and we can bless others with. And a surplus of time with which to train our children better and serve others more, since we won't be wasting all our time dealing with our stuff! God is just awesome enough to provide for the poor by teaching me a hard lesson about stuff. You know. A lesson He already made perfectly clear in. His. Word.


Because...

"...I realize there is never going to come a day when I stand before God and he looks at me and says, 'I wish you would have kept more for yourself.'"

Let me be clear. This is not a judgment post. I just have to joyfully declare that God is changing my desires. Am I a full-out, give-it-all-away radical yet? No! I'm definitely a work in progress. I still struggle with unbelief (that God will provide) so I want to hoard things. I still struggle with treasuring earthly memories and things instead of heavenly rewards.("The mark of Christ followers is that their hearts are in heaven and their treasures are spent there.") The point is, I struggle.

But God. But God!

'Cause I am struggling less than I used to. Really--the very fact that I struggle at all--that it's no longer easy for me to just go on about my willy-nilly stuff-buying and stuff-storing ways--is a testament to the work He is doing in me. And I KNOW the Lord will get me where He wants me, and I can't wait to see all His plans unfold!

For more responses to chapter 6 in Radical by David Platt, visit Marla Taviano's blog.

6 comments:

  1. wow. that's so exciting to see how God is changing your heart. this journey seems so long, but God is slowly slowly bringing us where He wants us to be. :)

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  2. What a wonderful post!! I am where you are, I think, but my husband is not on board. I loved this line because (sadly) it resonated so much with me:

    "(I hope y'all know I have a very large flatscreen. And I hate it. I love it. I hate it.)"

    Take care, God bless, and I pray that your house sells soon.

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  3. I am just thrilled right down to my toes for you and your family, Lori! Thank you SO much for sharing so honestly and practically!! Can't wait to see what God has planned for your family!!

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  4. I was feeling guilty about struggling, so thanks for pointing out the difference from just going willy nilly. I guess we can struggle for a bit, but then we need to DO, ACT, GIVE. Great post!

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  5. My husband and I walk a thing line between frugality (we might need it one day) and hoarding. I'm all for getting rid of something and my husband likes to hang on to it.

    i'm not saying i'm better than him, i just hate clutter and having to move it to clean! :P

    i think sometimes we can hand on to things until God sends someone in our path...like my sister saving her maternity clothes for 2 years. she thought she'd hand them down to me. then one day she had them in the back of her car (she'd loaned them to someone else and they'd just given them back) and a coworker asked her if she had anothing she could sell. the coworker's nephew was young and having a baby and they needed to get stuff 2nd hand.

    i truly believe that was a God ordained appointment and that my sister was meant to save them for those kids all along.

    okay here i've rambled again...i just love this subject and could talk all day. guess your posts just bring out the best (or worse :P) in me!!

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