“The world of the generous gets larger and larger;
the world of the stingy gets smaller and smaller.
The one who blesses others is abundantly blessed;
those who help others are helped.” ~Proverbs 11:24-25, The Message
I stopped by the discount store today to pick up a couple of things. Just walking through, I was surprised at my visceral repulsion to the marketing and materialism around me. We have been more or less “making-do” for so long, I can no longer identify with the need for better, newer and more. Not that I was always this way; shopping used to be almost a type of therapy for me.
Consumerism is now like a slap in the face. The more I learn about the world around me, the more conflicted I become about the way I live. Sometimes in our home it feels like we are being crowded out by our stuff. Then I see a story like this one, and I wonder how I can go on living in satiated comfort while children are starving. We tell ourselves it is not wrong to have nice things, but is it certainly wrong to ignore the needs of a child of God.
But I am left feeling helpless to meet these needs. I feel as though life drags me along and I have no control over it. Life is chaos, and I struggle just to keep my head above water: things happen and I deal with them. It is easy to live that way; to live a disciplined life is hard. To chart one’s own course takes time and effort and discipline. Yet when I look back on the path of my life, which road do I want to have taken?
It is also easy to succumb to the excuse I can’t save everyone, yet if I could save just one—one of the least of these—isn’t that worth something? I’m not sure right now what kind of generosity God is calling me to. And I’m frankly a little nervous to find out. What if He calls me to—I don’t even want to say it—go to a dangerous foreign country or to foster or adopt a child? Those are things that I feel utterly incompetent to do and completely terrified of. Yet when I reflect on the lives of those who have made great impacts on the world—Hudson Taylor, George Mueller, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, and William Wilberforce—they did not let their insufficiencies hinder them. By submitting themselves to the power and grace of God, they became more than they were able to be on their own. Hudson Taylor said, “I often think that God must have been looking for someone small enough and weak enough for Him to use and that He found me.”
The apostle Paul put it this way:
“But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.“ ~ 2 Corinthians 12:9-10, ESV
Once again I find myself helpless, but also hopefully dependent on the One who calls me to higher grace.