This is an excerpt from a devotional that was originally posted on April 16, 2014.
As I sat down to write this, I got a message from David, one of my dearest friends in Uganda. He currently works for a non-profit organization helping raise scholarships to send kids to school and mentoring them as they continue their education. We talk as often as we can about our families and everything going on in our lives.
In our discussions about life, he’s talked about potentially having to seek out a new job rather than continuing his current work, because it just doesn’t pay enough to support his needs. I am literally sitting here, texting with him about this right now as I type this devotional, and all I can think about is how selfish I really am.
Earlier today, I was speaking with a co-worker about how I wasn’t sure how long I could stay in the gig I’m currently in. I explained the financial burdens of my bills, which are due mostly to my own materialistic car choice a couple years back and my flamboyant spending last year, when I was making double what I’m making now. About four months ago, I was on my back on my parents' couch, unable to work at all. Now, here I am, so blessed that God has restored my physical health to a place that enables me to get up and go to a job every day — a job with a company I happen to really love. Yet here I stand, wanting more. More money. More hours at work. More of a title. More things for my new house. Why is that?
The answer is that it's our human nature to want more. In Genesis, God had given Adam and Eve the earth as their playground. All they had to do was enjoy it and enjoy him. But when Satan convinced them that God was depriving them of something, they wanted that something more. Suddenly Adam and Eve saw God in a new way. Instead of seeing him as the giver of all things good, they saw him as a powerful God who was keeping them from something they believed to be great.
As I’ve been thinking about stewardship, I’ve realized how incredibly selfish I am with my money. I justify it by claiming that I don’t have much, so I need to cling to it tightly. But clinging tightly is not godly wisdom. It certainly isn’t what Jesus asks us to do with our money or our resources. But, for some reason, we naturally tend to go into squirrel mode. When winter is approaching, and we anticipate a lack of provision, we start collecting our acorns. We work hard to track them down. We hide them, bury them and keep them close, so that in our time of need, we won’t be left wanting.
Of course, the more we gather up, the more we continue to want. There never seem to be enough acorns. Never enough money in the piggy bank (or as adults like to call it, the savings account, retirement fund or 401-k). There’s never enough food in the pantry, never a car that’s quite reliable enough, never enough clothes in our closet for all of the work functions we attend or people we need to impress, never a big enough house, or good enough furniture, or cute enough decor. There never seems to be enough money for vacations, or to take care of family, or to pay medical bills or college loans. In the gatherer’s world, there’s just never enough.
What if I stopped gathering and started holding things more loosely?
I don’t want to cling tightly to a job, a boyfriend, a friendship, a house, a car, money, material possessions, or habits. I want to feel like I’d be willing to let go of anything if it meant being in a closer, more dependent relationship with my Savior and Provider. I want to hold everything so loosely that I can recognize it’s only in my hand because God put it there, not because I’m strong enough to have taken hold of it myself, and certainly not because I’m cunning enough to grip it so tightly that it will never be taken from me.
“And he who had received the five talents came forward, bringing five talents more, saying, ‘Master, you delivered to me five talents; here, I have made five talents more.’ His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’”
— Matthew 25:20-21
The absolute best part about holding things loosely, loosening our grip on our own lives and resources, is that we get to experience the joy of our master. As I struggle with what it means to be a good steward of the things God has entrusted to me, and as I consider with a heavy heart what money might need to be shifted around, or what habits I might need to give up, or what God is calling me to do, I strive so desperately to enter into that great joy. The joy of pleasing my master, the joy of being in his presence, the joy of knowing that my father trusted me with something and that I made him proud with what I did with it. The joy of knowing I can trust him completely to take care of me, and that I don’t have to hunt and gather for myself. He alone can provide, and he loves me enough that he’s going to.
Think about what God has entrusted you with and how he might have you use it. Strive to enter into that joyful, intimate, trusting relationship with your perfect, giving, loving, and fulfilling provider.