Tuesday, July 07, 2009

The fallout realities of the current financial situation have hit home here at the not-for-profit camp where I work. A good friend and coworker was just let go after 10 years of service here due to a lack of funds to support our staff, programming and facilities. She and her husband have three kids in college. The rest of us saw pay and benefits cut - a reality that is far from isolated as we look around us today and see bankruptcies, layoffs, closing and plunging portfolios that prohibit foundations and individuals from funding the community services that they normall do. There are harsher realities for many who are retired and looked to the financial security of their retirement accounts to carry them through.

We are raised to trust in certain institutions and methods of doing things. We are a cause-and-effect-minded people who are taught that if you do X then Y will result. We are being reminded that it doesn't always work that way, especially when X isn't placing your trust in God for the provision of our needs today. Much of our life is spent trying to control our circumstances so that we are financially secure through the end of the week, month, year or lifetime.

We need to be responsible for the lives that we are given and for the gifts that He gives us, be they spiritual or physical. We need to be responsible and careful with how we raise our families. But we need to balance this with being open to His leading in our lives - daily. Sometimes careers or jobs get in the way of being free to act on the opportunities He brings us. Sometimes they are the tool that He uses to deliver opportunities into our lives...but what is your priority? Is it financial security or is it relationship with Christ?

I know that this may sound silly to some because we are taught to be responsible, get a good education and a good job to provide for ourselves and for our families. I am not suggesting living in an irresposnisble way I am just challenging you (and me) to consider our situations and look at what we are really spending our lives doing and why. Doing other than what we know is scary to us (me).

I have another friend named Jeremy. Jeremy lives life very differently from most in that he has placed himself in a position to be open to God's calling more freely than anyone I've ever known. His focus is serving Him at the drop of a hat. He lives simply with few posessions and is willing to give away just about anything he has at any point. In fact, he is currently travelling around Europe for an indeterminate time sharing the gospel of Christ with those he comes into contact with. He works to make enough to live on but how he makes money is secondary to his daily mission of living Christ to those around him. He responds to needs as he sees them - the Holy Spirit doesn't have to shout through the clutter in his life to get his attention, it only requires the softest suggestion of a whisper for Jeremy to hear and act. I have never known someone who is more Christ-like and Christ-living day in and day out.

My challenge for all of us is to look at our circumstances each day as opportunities. Losing a job isn't easy and brings with it anxiety and stress...but it can also afford us the opportunity to truly live dependant on our Christ as we are supposed to, trusting Him to provide for us as we look for the ways in which we can respond to His call to love and serve those around us, even if our circumstances aren't what we might consider ideal. As many of you have discovered, giving out of our need brings greater joy and blessings than giving out of our excess. A penney given by a poor widow is a more powerful gift than thousands given by a wealthy individual.

Be open to Holy whispers today, even if you aren't in the mood to give of your self or your resources. Let's learn how doing so draws us in to a much more intimate knowledge of the God we serve.



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