What God Gives Us…
So, I’ve got this new desk at home now, kind of a mini office as well.
What I’ve also got now, is time. Especially now that all the churches I’ve been helping out have pastors that are either finally settled in or now well-rested and rejuvenated so they can move forward.
During that time, I spent a lot of time on sermon preparation, but not a lot of time on simply writing. The Defeated Victor website was a representation of me and my thoughts, and maybe how I saw things like life and scripture. The name has meaning too. You can read that here and here
So… Here I am.
The ideas on what to write flash in and out of my mind like an old TV trying to get a proper signal as you move the rabbit ears around. Ask your parents if you don’t know the reference.
If you’ve read anything I’ve written before, you know this is very par for the course for me. I write randomly about my struggles to get words out and put thoughts together, and as I do, hopefully something coherent pops out. So if I end up posting this and it comes across a little random, maybe light on direct scriptural references, but hits some themes? Try to read it with a little grace in mind. I’m stretching muscles I have stretched in a while. I’m trying to turn off the formulaic sermon writing style that I had been in the regular habit of doing and just go for the creative tap tap tapping of the keys.
Now getting back to it, I had a thought today, and I wanted to write about it. I had almost lost it and it took some time to recollect it. You ever have that happen?
Happens to me a lot, because I don’t write it down right away. I just think I will remember it later, and then I usually don’t, write it down or remember it.
Today I was thinking, “What does God give us?”
Depending on the church denominations, you might get different answers.
Someone might say:
“God gives us a better life!”
There are a lot of “Kingdom Kids” out there who have been taught, that Jesus gives them an abundant favor. They phrase it as “needs”, but it always comes across as more than our needs. In fact, some might say that, as a child of God, He will meet our needs AND go above and beyond, because what father doesn’t want to give his child good gifts. They’ll randomly throw out passages about giving your kid bread instead of a stone, or some cup running over some where after it’s “pressed down and shaken”.
But when the Israelites were wandering in the desert, they never got more than what they needed. A double portion to get them through the weekend, but that’s it. When they did try to store it up, the manna would turn wormy and rancid.
When we take more than we need or maybe WANT more than we need, it seems that we make it about us. Even though it could still be coming from God, it’s really about us trying to store up for our own personal rainy day fund, (y’know… in case God doesn’t come through the next time). But, God is the source of all our comforts, so when we want more than we need, it feels like we are looking for comfort in the things and the not the one who has been kind enough to bless us with anything we may have.
It’s not about a better life. It’s about a sustainable life. If our weight is out of control, or our blood pressure, we eventually have issues physically, even physiologically. So we exercise, or we should anyway, to maintain some kind of normal parameters of function in our bodies.
God provides what we need to maintain and continue on. If we really consider this, we should be grateful. Not for the abundance, but the “just enough-ance”. It’s just enough to remind us to keep leaning on him, keep trusting him, keep watching him provide what we need, when we need it.
So I don’t think God gives us a better life, he gives us a life, and he sustains it, and that’s a good thing.
If on our own, through out careers, we are fortunate to “do better”, we should look back and remember where the “enough” part comes from. We should remember who sustained us in the lean years. And still sustains us, even if we now have more.
It took us nearly 10 years to afford the renovation of our basement after a hurricane tore through my little island here in NYC. I’ve been fortunate enough to be able to pay for portions of my son’s college, so he doesn’t have monumental debt, when he is done. Why is that a big deal? I didn’t do the smart thing and save up for it. Yet, I’ve been able to do that.
Certainly there is more than just sustaining happening here. But I know God is my provider for the lean years and even still right now. I never want to think I’m doing well enough not to need God’s “Just-enough-ance” for the current moment I’m in.
Also, doing better is not an opportunity to boast. It’s can be an opportunity to host. It’s an opportunity to help. It’s an opportunity be God’s hands as he uses you to meet someone else’s “enough”.
That’s just one of the things I think of, When I think, “What does God give us?”
Someone might also say, “God gives us a more moral life!”
I think there is a place for that. But I still don’t think it’s the main thing.
I finally finished watching the last few episodes of The Walking Dead (feel free to challenge my moral life for watching it, if you must).
Despite the title and the hordes of zombies, the show really wasn’t about zombies. It’s was about the response to the zombies. It was about the response to societies falling apart. It was about picking up the pieces and trying to live day to day. Sustaining life through some extremely difficult times. But on this show, as more people gathered together, small families would form, societies would develop, cities with ties to the past would rise up. You would see the ingenuity of the people and all the history and skill they carried with them, as they were able to forge a more primitive civilization than what was previously in place, and yet still hinted at what they remembered.
With these formations, was a desire to be better than the past. Be a more moral society. Be a more caring and loving society. A true pocket utopia in the middle of a worldwide dystopian wasteland. It’s noble desire. A worthy one. New people are welcomed into this bubble and are allowed to assimilate, and they get to see the best parts, the happy parts.
But over and over again, the good moral society is peeled back and there is an ugly hidden truth. There are always immoral people taking advantage of others. You find out there are class distinctions, people who are always treated as less than. Those that have the most, treat the least as disposable.
That’s because there are no perfectly moral or good people. Everyone has lines they will cross. Even if they are small, seemingly inconsequential lines or It really doesn’t matter. The line of the law is there, and it reminds, that we really aren’t good at law keeping. Someone once said to me, Integrity is what you do when no one’s watching. I think it was a quote from CS Lewis.
This one is from me, but it probably won’t be remembered 50 yrs from now:
“Integrity is being honest about your lack of integrity when no one else is around…”
To be honest, no one is asking you be honest with everyone either, just God. He already knows the punt was to the right of the goalposts. You hooked the drive. The ball rimmed out. (insert other failed sports analogy here)
Here’s your test.
Have you ever inched through a stop sign when no-one is around?
We have speed cameras everywhere in NYC. That means if you go around 6 or so miles over the speed limit, a camera flashes and in a week you will have a ticket sitting in your mailbox.
Everyone is a lawbreaker.
Every old testament saint was a sinner. A lawbreaker. Every single one. So when someone is teaching you about the moral high ground of some old testament saint, please understand you are only getting half the story.
The message should really be how God loved them, used them, and saved them anyway.
There is a place for morals, but it’s a humble place. It’s an honest place of, “I’m not really that good…” As you acknowledge that, you can still go and do better things and serve people. You can still love others.
So here we are at the end. And I’m going tell you the one thing I think God gives us. I’m not going to explain it. I just want you to dwell on the words.
What does God give us?
Really only one thing above all else.
Through his Son Jesus, God gives us a fully forgiven life. A life regularly washed clean by Grace.
“It’s not about a better life. It’s about a sustainable life.” Good words.
“That’s because there are no perfectly moral or good people. Everyone has lines they will cross.” Save One. Thanks for the reminder that today I need remember His love, treat others with grace and mercy; and then to exercise my humility muscles, they are getting a little flabby.
LikeLiked by 1 person