Nothing Missing Nothing Lacking

It’s kinda cute when you watch those videos on YouTube of kids talking about what they want to be when they grow up. If you would have asked a five-year-old me, my profession of choice ranged from doctor to princess (married to Princes William or Harry of course). But our ambitions soon evolve from cute dreams to real-life goals. We figure out our strengths and weaknesses. I struggled with science in school and after confusing the word feces and fetus I finally realized my medical ambitions were over! We make career goals, which ebb and flow with our personal goals. We want to find our soul mate, whilst having financial stability and a fulfilling career. Maybe add a nice house, a good car, some little kiddos, and a strong community around us.

But many of us struggle to keep up with the timeline of our dreams. By the time we hit our late twenties and then into our thirties and forties, some are stuck in dead end jobs, some are longing for marriage, and others are dealing with bankruptcy. It’s so easy to feel like we are in lack and that our lives look nothing like what we had hoped or imagined.

In her book, Daring Greatly, Brene Brown writes about the concept of “scarcity”. She describes how we live in a culture of “never enough”. From the moment we wake up in the morning, we immediately tell ourselves that we did not get enough sleep, which soon slips into believing that we do not have enough time to get things done. “Scarcity thrives in a culture where everyone is hyperaware of lack. Everything from safety and love to money and resources feels restricted or lacking.” (Page 26)

Brene is right – scarcity is so embedded into our thinking that it is a discipline to consider that we are actually living in success and plenty.

2 Peter 1:3 says that God’s “divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness.” The Bible is not saying that we are in lack, but in fact God has given us everything we need for life (money, skills, resources, housing, food, toys for the kids etc.) and godliness (the spiritual stuff so we can actually have a relationship with God and grow as spiritual beings). Everything. Nothing missing. Nothing lacking. We have everything we need.

And please note, the Bible is not saying that God has given us all we need to keep up with the Jones’, or even our projected life-plan. Yes, the Jones’ seem to have their life on track with their dreams; they have the money, the career, and the seemingly well-behaved kids, but maybe it’s time to let go of the expectations we have put on ourselves? For the sake of our sanity, maybe we need to let go of the time-sensitive agenda and be content with our little houses, or our frugal budgets that mean we can’t always buy organic produce? Maybe it’s time to surrender the dreams of annual family vacations and be happy with taking day trips to the beach or the mountains, and packing homemade sandwiches?

And as we shift our perspective, may we see that a lack of money, relationships, or career doesn’t mean we have failed or that we are inferior to others. Sometimes the seasons of tight finances, tough work environments, or pressured family relationships are about us recalibrating our hearts. It’s not that we deny the lack, but we surrender the shortfalls and choose to believe that our story is not over. We have been given everything we need to get through today and the next season is not too far away

So today, my prayer for us all surrender scarcity and embrace contentment. Our current situations are not forever. As we press forward, our lives will look oh so different in one year, five years, and ten years. Let us not look at what others are doing, let us not compare. Let us forgo our own expectations of our lives and let us look at the good, cherish the gifts, and let go of the pressure to have more. Let’s be a people who engage our hearts in the present rather than self-medicate on fantasies of what the future could bring. 

May we see that God has given us all we need for life and godliness! But may we also have the grace to accept that it might not be enough to keep up with the Jones’, or even our own expectations.

NOT WHAT WE EXPECT - PROMISES (PART 2)

When it comes to our ‘promises’, we don’t expect to have to work hard or fight. Whether spirit, soul, or body, we think God has assured us that He is giving something to us, and therefore it’s going to be easy. And then the tension rises. We realize we are going to have to fight for our marriages, our families, and our careers. We see that the desires of our hearts don’t just fall into our laps, but there are ‘giants’ in the way. Then we crumble. We question ourselves and doubt God. We don’t want to fight. We don’t want to have to work for it. And it’s not because we are lazy, but it’s because we FEAR.

 

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The Best Wine

"I am the Vine; you are the branches. If you remain in Me and I in you, you will bear much fruit” (John 15:5)

You don’t have to be a horticultural expert to know that a branch cut from the vine will die. The vine gives life to the branches enabling them to grow.

As Christians, we are happy to remain connected to our Vine, God, when life is going well. We have the job we want, the spouse we love, and the finances we desire. We praise Him. We go to church with smiles on our faces and thankfulness in our hearts.

But when we are in pain, when we are disappointed or depressed, we tend to back away from God. We try to hide or suppress our hurt from Him as if we are only acceptable when life is great. We try to fake it because we tell ourselves that we need the happy feelings to succeed at the Christian life. And, somehow, without the happy feels, we are failing. So we lose connection.

But you don’t have to be OK. You don’t have to mask your true self. You don’t have to bury pain in order to be acceptable. Honestly – God wants all of you. Good. Bad. High. Low. Quiet. Loud. He wants it all. Just remain in Him. Keep connected to Him. Pray. Cry. Yell. Just stay connected.

In the world of Sommeliers, it is commonly known that wine made from vines that have suffered make the best wine. Through storms and droughts the roots have gone deep into the ground and the grapes produced give a rich, creative, flavor-filled wine. These vines and branches have been tried and tested, and refused to die. And the fruit they produce are distinctive and are very much sought after. These are the wines that are some of the rarest and most expensive you can find.

As we suffer, don’t shut down our hearts. The Vine Himself is suffering with us. He is digging deep wells in the spirit to sustain and nourish us. He is making us exceptional. And the fruit we produce together is going to be rich, outstanding, and priceless.

Remain in Him and you will bear much fruit. And not just OK fruit, but the best, most excellent fruit.

Just remain.