Today was a day of rest, and I actually rested. In my quiet time this morning I pulled out my list from last night and prayed over it some. Writing it down really helped last night. Being able to see on paper all the elements of my life that are out of my control helped me let go of them. I suppose it helped me take step one and realize my life has become unmanageable.
Odd to have a life that is unmanageably filled with goodness instead of badness. It makes me think of a message series at our church some months back about harvesting what we plant. How things multiply. When the message was taught, I often thought dryly that all the goodness I could manage to reap in my life would be cleanup for all the badness. I think I was wrong. God is a bigger Redeemer than that.
Definitely what I need to talk to God about right now is how to live in the uncontrollableness of my life. I have always liked to live on the edge. I am living on the edge. Nothing about my life is boring. I am going to have to become very comfortable with making a lot of my decisions based mostly on prayer. It isn’t that I haven’t for some time; it is just that I always had at least some knowledge or experience to base my decisions on. Now I have God and God and lots of people around me. There is only one God, of course. That was an emphasis thing.
I have continued my conversation with God about how my life is lived “in plenty”. As I am slowly reading through the epistles to seek to understand the mindsets of Paul that caused him to be burned up instead of burned out, I have been able to understand my life a bit more in context of the gospel message.
It turns out in the time of Jesus and Paul, 90% of the people lived in poverty. 28% of them didn’t know at the beginning of the day if they would have enough to sustain themselves until the end of the day. 3% of people were actually rich. I know from personal experience that when I have had less my I live with less clenched fists than when I have had more. But these statistics do put the teachings of the New Testament into a slightly different light than if they were initially taught in American culture.
If I had two coats and gave away one like John the Baptist said, tomorrow I could buy another coat. If the person John told that to did that, they might never have a new coat again. They might have given away their extra set of clothes forever. I actually have three or four coats.
When the early Christians were selling stuff and giving it away, it wasn’t easy for them to get it back. For me, the risk level is much smaller. My income is pretty low, but so are my living expenses. If I gave away everything I owned, I would have a high potential of earning it back in the good American economy. Giving seems like it would be a whole lot harder if there was no opportunity to get what I had given away back.
Either way, if I fall into the comparison trap and compare myself to Paul, it becomes obvious I could follow Christ much more closely in regards to how I handle my money. Someone is going to have to convince me at some point that saving is a New Testament concept. I just don’t see it anywhere in how Jesus asked His disciples to follow Him. Neither is tithing. It was more of a give everything concept to Jesus and Paul. Anything short of everything was not enough. So when will I give everything? and how?
When Jesus had called the Twelve together, he gave them power and authority to drive out all demons and to cure diseases, and he sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal the sick. He told them: “Take nothing for the journey—no staff, no bag, no bread, no money, no extra shirt. Whatever house you enter, stay there until you leave that town. – Luke 9:1-4
Then Jesus asked them, “When I sent you without purse, bag or sandals, did you lack anything?” “Nothing,” they answered. – Luke 22:35
To be fair, the next thing Jesus had to say was:
He said to them, “But now if you have a purse, take it, and also a bag; and if you don’t have a sword, sell your cloak and buy one. It is written: ‘And he was numbered with the transgressors’; and I tell you that this must be fulfilled in me. Yes, what is written about me is reaching its fulfillment.” The disciples said, “See, Lord, here are two swords.” “That’s enough!” he replied. – Luke 22:36-38
A couple days ago, I also just happened to read the account of the widow who gave everything literally. Jesus seemed to often say exactly what He thought to everyone. If He was going to say something, He seemed to speak the truth. He honored her. He didn’t say she should have been responsible and eaten her next and perhaps last meal with it. I probably would have.
Jesus sat down near the collection box in the Temple and watched as the crowds dropped in their money. Many rich people put in large amounts. Then a poor widow came and dropped in two small coins. Jesus called his disciples to him and said, “I tell you the truth, this poor widow has given more than all the others who are making contributions. For they gave a tiny part of their surplus, but she, poor as she is, has given everything she had to live on.” – Mark 12:41-44