Seth – This blog is quite poignant for me after leading a Bible Study last night at My Brother’s Keeper. None of the guys there have homes, cars, or jobs, but they all expressed gratitude to God. Quite humbling for me. Dan thanked God for “never getting knifed or shot on the streets.” Steven thanked God that “my Mom and Dad are taking care of my two girls so I can get my life back together.” When we ain’t got much stuff cluttering our view, it’s easier to see what’s really important. Maggie
Survival is not at issue
It used to be that survival was an issue. In prior generations, you got a job because
if you didn’t, starvation was an option.
Now, food takes up just 6% of the average person’s budget. We have the luxury of following our dreams
because failure has little downside in this day and age. We’re not going to starve. Even beach bums have figured this much out.
The irony is that so many of us organize our lives around
the issue of survival when survival is not even remotely in question. We work far harder than we need to, and too
often we ignore those we love most in the process; but for what end? If survival is not in question, why do we
kill ourselves so?
It makes no sense unless you recognize that underneath all
the scraping and clawing is a lie.
People want bigger houses and faster more comfortable cars
and more prestige more than they want time with their families and more than
they want to live the life of faith that Jesus modeled for us.
Many of us don’t even realize that that is the exchange
we’re making. We take on a mortgage, take
a promotion, take on a car lease, and start running a little faster in the rat
cage we find ourselves in. It all has a
certain internal logic until the wheels start to come off – our spouse no
longer speaks to us, our kids don’t share our values, we feel distant from God,
we even feel estranged from ourselves.
The script doesn’t need to play out like that. We can switch our priorities – sell the big
house, cut back on expenses, invest time where, in our heart of hearts, we
really wanted to invest it all along. If
we’ve got the stomach to make some tough choices, the brass ring of our inner
purpose that we thought was unreachable can actually be ours.
Survival these days is very cheap. We live in the richest country on the planet
and the world is our oyster. We need to
wake up to the possibilities being given us before we default to a scenario
that wasn’t written for us.
My buddy Jeff and I were talking about this very same issue as we’re trying to organize our finances in a Kingdom-minded fashion. We’ve agreed to hold one another accountable to live a life of simplicity, being responsible in our saving yet radical in our giving.
The cool thing I’ve noticed is that if you never allow yourself to change your standard of living despite growth in income, the rat race can’t consume you because you don’t care if you make $24,000 a year or $240,000 a year – you realize that none of it is yours anyway!
I’m reminded of the Mexican parable that you have posted in your archives about the fisherman and the American businessman – why kill yourself your entire life to enjoy a retirement surrounded by the people and things you love, when you can enjoy them now and avoid the headache and loss of heart?
I come from a pretty simple family. My parents have always been resourseful and generous to others. But when I got out on my own, it became so easy to “live it up”. Every time I got a raise I would still be asking the same question, “Where does all of the money go?”. It didn’t matter how much was coming in, it all got spent on nothing. I didn’t even buy expensive things, because I wasn’t used to having them anyhow. I wasted most of my money on ridiculous junk.
In the last few years, it has become a great desire to learn the art of simple living. I don’t want to be tied down by useless junk. I still haven’t mastered it. Most of us on The World Race brought way more stuff than we really need.
I believe I am in the process of that refinement, and I believe it will be completed. I have chosen to learn this, but it will still require a continued effort on my part, and the accountability of God and a few good friends.
I made it all and lost it all a few times and the words of the bible’s author are always in my face like a mirror… “where your treasure is there your heart also will be…” it simply cannot remain in the fleeting glory of material things… which are here today and gone tomorrow, whereas building a strong spiritual foundation is the basis and assurance for the real life to come.