Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Real abundance

I'm going to quote two writers and let them speak for themselves. I was struck to the heart reading them. I would love your comments as I think about the implications, wrapping up 2009 and moving toward the New Year:

1. For many of us, raised to believe that money is the real source of security, a dependence on God feels foolhardy, suicidal, even laughable... we want a God that feels like a fat paycheck and a license to spend as we please. Listening to the siren song of more, we are deaf to the still small voice waiting in our soul to whisper, "You're enough."

"Seek ye first the kingdom of heaven and all things will be added to it," we have been told, often since childhood, by people quoting form the Bible. We don't believe this. And we certainly don't believe it about art. Maybe God would feed and clothe us, in a pinch, but painting supplies? A museum tour or Europe, dance classes? God's not about to spring for those, we tell ourselves. We cling to our financial concerns as a way to avoid not only our art but also our spiritual growth. Our faith is in the dollar...

We are operating out of the toxic old idea that God's will for us and our will for us are at opposite ends of the table... Thinking like this is grounded in the idea that God is a stern parent with very rigid ideas about what's appropriate for us. And you'd better believe we won't like them. This stunted-god concept needs alteration.

On the one hand, we give lip service to the notion that God wants us to be happy, joyous, and free. On the other, we secretly think that God wants us to be broke if we are going to be so decadent as to want to be artists [or follow our dream in any direction]. Do we have any proof at all for these ideas about God?

Looking at God's creation, it is pretty clear that the creator did not know when to stop. There is not one pink flower, or even fifty pink flowers, but hundreds. Snowflakes, of course, are the ultimate exercise in sheer creative glee. No two alike. The creator looks suspiciously like someone who just might send us support for our creative ventures.

The God who has a job for us? The God who has fulfilling work? The God who holds abundance and dignity, who holds a million possibilities, the keys to every door? This God can sound suspiciously like a flimflam man.

And so, when it comes time for us to choose between a cherished dream and a lousy current drudgery, we often choose to ignore the dream and blame our continued misery on God. We act like it's God's fault we didn't go to Europe, take that painting class, go on that photo shoot. In truth, we, not God, have decided not to go. We have tried to be sensible--as though we have any proof at all that God is sensible--rather than see if the universe might not have supported some healthy extravagance...
(Julia Cameron, The Artist's Way, is not a Christian but has a grasp of God's nature and his abundance that is hard to ignore.)

2. Then someone in the crowd said to Jesus, "Master, tell my brother to share his legacy with me."

But Jesus replied, "My dear man, who appointed me a judge or arbitrator in your affairs?"

Then turning to the disciples he said to them, "Notice that, and be on your guard against covetousness in any shape or form. For a man's real life in no way depends on the number of his possessions.

"Don't worry about life, wondering what you are going to eat. And stop bothering about what clothes you will need. Life is much more important than food, and the body more important than clothes.

"Can any of you make himself an inch taller however much he worries about it? And if you can't manage a little thing like this, why do you worry about anything else?

"You must not set your hearts on what you eat or drink, nor must you live in a state of anxiety. The whole heathen world is busy about getting food and drink and your Father knows well enough that you need such things. No, set your heart on his kingdom, and your food and drink will come as a matter of course. Don't be afraid, you tiny flock! Your Father plans to give you the kingdom.

"Sell your possessions and give the money away. Get yourselves purses that never grow old, inexhaustible treasure in Heaven, where no thief can ever reach it, or moth ruin it. For wherever your treasure is, you may be certain that your heart will be there too!"
(Luke 12:13-15, 22-26, 29-34. Phillips translation, 1958)

Three questions to self:
1. How are we living in God's abundance today?
2. How are we planning for this Christmas season and the New Year, to make anxiety-free space so that we and our families can rest in his provision and follow him on the paths of possibility?
3. How are we planning to share his abundance as his provision for those he has chosen to bless through us?

I'd love to hear from you on this one. RK

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