(If this article offends you, keep in mind that it offended me first.)
I was standing in front of a stand of vitamins at the grocery store. As is my norm, I was constantly talking to God as I went through the store. I have had anything but money to waste this last half a decade, and I can’t afford to not talk to Jesus about every purchase I make. It was a great sale. It was tempting to buy enough for many months instead of the one bottle I truly needed (that would last a few months). Generally, God doesn’t allow me to do buy more than I need in the immediate future, but I was surprised that this time I felt peace about it and actually prompted to do so. I headed for the checkout with my very extravagant (haha) purchase of two bottles (and my other groceries).
After paying my $17 and some odd cent bill, I packed my groceries in my reusable, green-friendly shopping bag and headed home. About halfway home, I heard something hit the sidewalk. I turned around and found my newly purchased tube of toothpaste on the ground. Perplexed I checked my bag. Sure enough, four years is as long as that bag was meant to last. I looked inside it to see if I was missing anything else. Yup, you guessed it, I was missing one of my bottles of vitamins.
I looked down the block, but didn’t see anything on the sidewalk. I was already pressed for time. I really didn’t have time to go back and look for it. I was going to give up precious time in Scripture and resting if I did. I felt strongly convicted by the Spirit not to look for it. It didn’t surprise me. I knew I wasn’t supposed to have those vitamins. Storing up extra vitamins on earth didn’t fit the description of daily bread. Irritated that my trip to the grocery store was no longer a great savings and slightly irritated over the spiritual lessons going through my head and heart, I ignored the Spirit and went back. I figured I would go back halfway and then give up if I still couldn’t find it. Do I even have to tell you whether I found them?
It didn’t take me long to experience gratitude over God’s reminder about what manna is. Though to be fully truthful, a week later, I considered buying an extra bottle in the store tonight on my way home from work – just to prove to God that I could. Manna wouldn’t rot if I tried hard enough to get it not to. But honestly I couldn’t stomach the thought of facing my disobedience to God every time I looked at that bottle.
It was a capstone on a conversation I have been having with God over the last month. For the first time in years, I am about to have disposable income of some kind. What should I do with it? Some people would say I should buy new clothes. A whole new wardrobe. Some would say I should save. Some would say I should eat healthier. Some would want me to pay off my last small student loan. Some would think I should simply have fun. Do something like eat out more than when forced to by social situations once every few months.
God has been really narrowing that list for me. He constantly is reminding me as I take this step in my life that manna rots when saved until tomorrow. It is impossible to save manna. It will rot. There is nothing the receiver of the manna can do about it. There is no way to prevent it. Manna rots when not eaten today. And it occurred to me just now that you cannot even be a glutton on manna just for today because manna always comes to just the right amount. You can’t overeat it. It apparently disappears in the act.
You may think I am taking this overboard. You wouldn’t believe how many times I have thought so too. Then there is this irritating thing called the Bible that argues with what overboard is.
I am currently memorizing Luke. It was not lost on me this week when I made it to the parable of the rich fool. That is one anti-retirement plan parable! Thank God it ends with the verse “This is how it will be with whoever stores up things for themselves but is not rich toward God.” Thankfully, it isn’t so much that you can’t save; it is that you just have to be rich toward God at the same time, right???
I kept memorizing. One of the glorious parts about the gospel of Luke is that immediately following this parable Jesus goes into His spiel about not worrying about tomorrow and that whole nine yards. Then just when I think I have explained all that away with comfortable American Christianity (that takes place as we worry about retirement while our siblings are currently dying from starvation around the world), I get to the paragraph I can’t explain away.
“Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom.”
My heart warmed and rejoiced. What a comforting verse! How amazing! I have a kingdom. I am wealthy! I am rich! I am safe! Finally something that feels good in this passage.
I got to the next verse. It felt a little less good. (No kidding, I don’t even look a word ahead of the line I am memorizing these days. It confuses my brain, so I literally don’t know what I am going to memorize next other than what I remember from reading it in my Bible reading plan the last time I did so.)
“Sell your possessions and give to the poor.”
Now look, I am sure He didn’t mean everything we have. That would be ridiculous! There is just no way that is what He meant, right???
But then there is another passage in Luke a few chapters later. It includes a list of people who cannot be His disciples. It ends with saying, “In the same way, those of you who do not give up everything you have cannot be my disciples.”
Well, that is the end right before the real end, “Salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is fit neither for the soil nor for the manure pile. It is thrown out. Whoever has ears to hear, let them hear.”
It sucks not to be fit for a manure pile.
“God, may I have ears to hear. May I be worthy of being Your disciple. And if I arrive in heaven before my time because I took You at Your word, may You not accuse me of sin for radically following You.”
Which parts of your budget are rotten? Is there anywhere you are spending money that isn’t leveraged for His kingdom? Is there anywhere you should be spending money that could radically impact someone else’s eternity?