Thursday, November 4, 2010

Hoarding the Fishes and Loaves

Today we're going to jump right into the book. Chan states the following:

"Remember the story where Jesus fed thousands of people with one boy's small lunch? In that story according to Matthew, Jesus gave the loaves to His disciples and then the disciples passed them out to the crowd. Imagine if the disciples had simply held onto the food Jesus gave them, continually thanking Him for providing lunch for them. That would've been stupid when there was enough food to feed the thousands who were gathered and hungry.

"But that is exactly what we do when we fail to give freely and joyfully. We are loaded down with too many good things, more than we could ever need, while others are desperate for a small loaf. The good things we cling to are more than money; we hoard our resources, our gifts, our time, our families, our friends." p. 120
In an earlier segment in the book, Chan makes the observation that many of us in "westernized Christianity" truly have no idea what it is to live by faith. It's my belief that this is the exact reason why we have such a difficult time understanding and applying the passage on page 120 to our lives. I don't know about you, but I was brought up with the notion of "saving" pounded into my brain: save for college, save for retirement, save for vacation. I buy a little more food than I need each week in order to stock up my pantry. We rationalize that this is "good practice"... that we're being practical, and maybe we are. However, the problem lies in the fact that I have several cans of vegetables and boxes of rice that have been sitting on my shelves for over a year. Last night, I was doing some work on a writing project and I came across a very interesting statement - - - "rational lies," which is another way to explain the word rationalize. I dare say this is a little insightful... and convicting!
Many of us have never had to rely on a "handout"... the generosity of a stranger. Even when we have "no money" there's a way to find something. For example, this past week my husband and I were faced with some unexpected bills that weren't in the budget. I had an unexpected root canal on Wednesday and then my car broke down yesterday. In a matter of 72 hours, we were faced with over $1000 in bills... bills that weren't accounted for in the budget... bills we will have no way of paying based on my husband's salary... at least not with heating season around the corner and a new mouth to feed soon. But, we did have a credit card. Now, granted, my husband and I don't regularly use credit cards and when we do, we try very hard to pay off the balance... but it came in quite handy yesterday. It got us over the immediate hump of paying the auto shop. We even decided to cash out some of my husband's retirement in order to pay some of our increasing expenses... to buy us some breathing room. But, even then, we are relying on our "man-made" safety net and not our Savior. Of course, we joked that if we go through all of the retirement...THEN we will have to truly trust God.
Why is it so hard to trust Him... regardless of what's in our checking account?
For me, this point just hammers home the fact that so many of us, myself included, have no idea what it is to live by faith. Church (Christianity) is what I do, it's where I go... it's not who I am, at least not completely. I'm a work in progress. We all are. But this piece of the puzzle is key: Faith is about more than just professing our belief. It's about our trust. It's easy to say, "I have faith in Jesus." If you don't believe me, say it yourself. I promise, the words aren't difficult. But, just because you can articulate the words... that doesn't mean that it resonates in your heart... and it certainly doesn't bare witness to your ability to trust God.
Watch this video!!!! I've posted it on the blog before, but it's never been more relevant than it is today. In just 2 minutes, Francis sums up this whole blog... and challenges us with a prayer that has my mind moving a million miles a minute, but has left my body a little shell-shocked. What he suggests here would require us to live in a perpetual state of dependence on God... it's no wonder that his suggestion is 100% counter-intuitive to our society's ideals.

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