As I was looking for a filler to finish off our church newsletter this morning (yes, I am the editor), I came across this poem I wrote years and years ago. I thought I’d share it as it speaks to our many roles in life and how to handle them.
A Modern Day Psalm
Does life really have to be this hard?
I just want to be myself for a change instead of someone else’s
Whatever it is I spend most of my time being.
Sometimes my relationships seem to be strangling me instead of fulfilling me …
I want to be free
I want to please myself.
The trouble is I’m not really sure who I am or what pleases me
I’m to accustomed to being all of those other people instead.
Maybe I can find myself and You, too, if I really pray.
Maybe there’s a place for me in Your plan. Me the wife, and mother and daughter and sister and all the other Mes.
Maybe You’ll tell me if I listen.
“Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am in to be content.” Philippians 4:11
Part of good stewardship is being contented. After all, how can we share what we have, if we’re convinced it isn’t enough? Everything about our society seems based on consumerism and having more, more, more. Ads constantly barrage us with the latest or better new product we need to purchase. The lifestyle of a family on the average television show would require an income of $200,000. Styles change quickly so we feel compelled to add to or change our wardrobe. Phones and other technology are constantly updated, so that older models become “obsolete.” We’re always sure we’ll be satisfied when we get one more raise, the next new car, the slightly bigger house, and so on. Unfortunately as sinful humans, that little bit more doesn’t satisfy, it just whets our desire for the next thing. We never reach the point of being content, so we’re never thankful for what God has given us, and we’re never willing to be generous with what we have. We don’t have time to serve others, because we’re so busy chasing after the latest and greatest toy on our list. According to the apostle Paul, this kind of discontent leads to disaster.
“Now there is great gain in godliness with contentment, for we brought nothing into this world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content. But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. It is through this craving that some have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs.” 1 Timothy 6:4-10
If you’re an older person, you’ve seen that money, jobs, hobbies, trips and all the fancy trappings we try to surround ourselves with don’t last. When we’re gone, people won’t remember what we had, they’ll remember what we did with what we had. Did you live a life of integrity? Did you serve God? Did you love others? Those are the things that will be important. So practice the art of contentment — it’s one of the keys to good stewardship.
My mom gave me this book a couple of years ago and I finally read it about 6 or 7 months ago. I was expecting the usual horror genre we usually exchange, but was I in for a shock.
This is a fictional story that addresses the very real sin that dwells within each of us. What makes The Oath memorable is its metaphor for sin and how it can numb the sinner. Peretti’s dragon is a great analogy for how sin blends in around us and works almost unseen until it devours us. His opening remark “Sin is the monster we love to deny” is absolutely brilliant.
I won’t say too much, since this book is hard to explain without giving spoilers, but I will say that The Oath is a deep, thought-provoking novel with a theme that sticks with you long after you’ve read the final page. It’s creepy, as in don’t-read-before-bed creepy, and is definitely not a fun, light read. But I love how Frank Peretti isn’t afraid to include overt Christian themes in his books.
“As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of Gods’ varied grace….” 1 Peter 4:10
My devotional reading today was on the book of Jonah, and I’m actually going to be teaching about that book in adult Sunday School in a few weeks … funny how God sends us these little messages, isn’t it? He knows just what we need at any given time. Anyway, the gist of the article was grace. God extended His grace to Jonah, even though he was a sulky and reluctant prophet. He saved him from the belly of the whale, he sent a plant to shade him … Jonah didn’t deserve those things. He tried to run from his calling. He wasn’t very appreciative of Gods’ care. The very worst thing about Jonah — although he accepted Gods’ grace, he was angry when God extended that same grace to the people Jonah hated, the Assyrians.
I think there’s a lesson in this. In the verse above, Peter calls us stewards of Gods’ grace. We’ve all received gifts. I know that I have certain talents, and I also have my health, a good bit of free time as a retiree, an adequate income. Since all these are gifts of Gods’ grace in my life, I need to share them willingly when I see a need. In fact, I should be excited when I can spread some of Gods’ grace around. Most of all, I should be excited to share the good news of the sacrifice of Christ for our sins. That’s truly amazing grace.
Unfortunately, I’m often like Jonah. I may be willing to share with those I love, or those I find deserving. I’m less willing to share with people I don’t know, don’t like or find unworthy in some way. Why should I serve them? They don’t deserve it and may not appreciate it. However, here’s the thing — it’s only grace because we don’t deserve it. If we could earn grace, we wouldn’t need God (or anyone else) to give it to us.
So today, let’s spread some grace around: lend a hand; forgive; bake some cupcakes for your neighbor; give up your place in line. You need it; I need it; everyone needs it, whether they know it or not.