What Is “Enough”?

gold_coins-6908The people on the van were from a variety of resorts. Each of us had signed up for a day-long trip, and the van drove from one resort to another, picking us up for the day. Spending time together as we traveled was a great way to meet people. As the day neared its end and the people dwindled as we made drop-offs at different resorts, the conversation turned to comparing the resorts, our experiences of them, and sharing insights of other resorts we had visited.

My husband and I have found these type of conversations helpful, because we like to try different areas and different resorts. We know people have varying priorities, so just because one person recommends a place doesn’t mean it’s a good fit for us. But we like to hear the pros and cons of many options.

However, as I listened to this particular conversation, my stomach turned. I listened to the talk about the amount of lobster, quality of steak, promptness of staff, amenities, best deals, and so on, and I thought of all that I had seen throughout the day. I remembered our guide telling us the average annual income for people on the island was $6000, the same cost some people on the bus were quoting as their one-week resort rate. I looked through the darkness at the outline of our guide and van driver and was embarrassed to have them overhear the conversation.

We are so rich in so many ways, yet we easily slip into comparisons and discontentment. We want more because we don’t think we have enough. The probably isn’t need; the problem is want, the desire for more, the distorted value of “enough.” I wondered how much richer our guide and van driver were than any of us on the van that night. Perhaps they had a better perspective than we did. Perhaps they were more content. I don’t know for sure, but I wonder if they believed what they had–whatever it was–was enough.

I think it’s a good think to want more, but only of the right things. Too often, we turn God’s economy upside down. We have too much want for what we don’t need and don’t have enough want for what we most need.

Perhaps it’s a good question to ask yourself today. What is “enough”?

 

Give Up What You Like

give it upI left behind most of the clothes I took to Israel. Many of us either planned ahead to give away most everything we took or, once there, decided someone else could use what we had more than we needed to keep it. (Then there were some who wouldn’t have been able to fit everything they bought in Israel without leaving something behind.) We had extra suitcases that had been filled with the items we took to give Bridges for Peace. Everyone brought their clothes and other items to my room, and on the last full day, I started to pack them.

I went through everyone else’s clothes first, then I started sorting my own. I easily folded and stacked most of them. But there was one shirt that I started to fold and set aside, then paused. I held it up and thought, “I like this shirt. I’d probably wear it again. Maybe I’ll keep it.”

Give it up.

Just because I like it doesn’t mean I need to keep it. In fact, sacrifice takes on more meaning when I like what I’m giving up. Is it actually sacrifice when I give away what I don’t care about anyway? How can I call it generosity when there’s no sacrifice involved? Sure, someone else might be blessed by what I give, but do I miss out on a blessing?

What do you need to sacrificially, generously give away today? Give it up.

 

Life On Demand

now“On Demand”

I Googled it.

  • movies on demand
  • tv on demand
  • printing on demand
  • certification on demand
  • gaming on demand
  • video on demand

I could have searched further, but I knew I’d find some things I really didn’t want to think about being “on demand.”

Wait. I’m skipping a biggie. Social media. Yes, it definitely fits into the on demand category.

I’ll confess there are some things that I like for their convenience. I like being able to purchase an ebook and have it quickly delivered to my Kindle. I like dvr-ing shows so I can watch them when I want without commercials. I like being able to Google something and get a quick answer, although I’m pretty careful with this one, because contrary to popular belief, everything on the internet is not as factual as you might like it to be. (Shocking, right?) But while we’re on the subject, being able to find something that supports what we want to believe is just another sign of our “on demand” culture.

We want what we want when we want it.

Or, do we?

While we like the convenience of some things, we need to draw the line between convenience and on demand. Is there really anything that we should demand? Maybe I’m overthinking this one, but if we get used to using the word demand, and we get used to the convenience that demand gives us, won’t we begin to think we deserve anything we want to be on demand? It’s a slippery slope.

Convenience isn’t a bad thing, but we shouldn’t demand it.

What are you demanding? It might not be anything I’ve mentioned. Maybe you demand your spouse or children respond or behave a certain way. Maybe you demand a level of respect, recognition, or pay at work. Maybe you demand a level of involvement or organization.

In case no one has told you recently…you are not the center of the universe. What you want isn’t what you deserve.

Life isn’t on demand. It’s on faith. How well are you living it? What do you need to stop demanding and start accepting?

Pleasing People, Pleasing God

pleaseGodShould you please people or please God?

Well, it’s not as simple of as answer as you think. Sure, we need to please God. That’s non-negotiable. But God always considers others.

“’Love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength.’ The second command is this: ‘Love your neighbor as you love yourself.’ There are no commands more important than these.” (Mark 12:30-31)

These verses command us to love God and love people. Is there a difference between love and pleasing…both God and others? Well, I suppose it helps to know how we define pleasing. If it means doing whatever they want, letting others make the decision of what “best” is, pleasing others won’t work, because it’s a moving target. You can work to please others every moment from now until the end of your life, but you won’t be able to do it. As you relate to more and more people, the guidelines of pleasing others will change. Even what pleases one person in one season of life will shift in another season. We change, and so do our preferences. We need a more solid standard.

God is the solid standard.

God doesn’t change. His standards don’t change. We learn more about his standards and how to meet them as we grow, but it’s God who changes us, not us who change him.

It’s not about choosing between pleasing God and pleasing people. One takes care of the other. When we strive to please God, because of who he is, others are considered as well. We might not be pleasing them by their own standards, but pleasing them by honoring God in our relationships is much better anyway. Pleasing God and pleasing people don’t ignore one or the other. When we focus on God, one considers the other.

How can you know you’re becoming who you’re supposed to be? How do you know you’re doing what you’re supposed to be doing when you need to be doing it?

Please God.

The Motivation to Move

There are times we want to be somewhere else. We repeatedly say, at least to ourselves, “If only…”

We wish dreams of someday or somewhere, believing where we’ll move is better than where we are. We often want something materialistic, yet our desire for something different can also be spiritual. Wanting something different spiritually sounds noble, right? But what do we want and why do we want it? Let’s not assume the “different” we want is always better.

In fact, when we have a desire to move on to something different, we need to look at why we want to move from where we are. If where we’re headed isn’t better than where we are, there’s no reasonable rationale for moving. Growth is preferred to stagnancy, but moving doesn’t always equal growth. Taking steps away from where we are can just as easily be destructive than constructive. We can end up deteriorating spiritually instead of growing.

Acknowledging our motivation for moving away from our current location keeps us in check. We start with intention. By looking at what we think we’re missing, we become aware of the gaps we’re attempting to fill through the moving process. When we move for the sake of moving without regard for the gaps we’re trying to fill, we’ll often end up stuffing the gaps with all kinds of makeshift junk that really doesn’t accomplish what needs to accomplish.

It’s easy to think “someplace else” is better than where we are, but different doesn’t equal better. Because you aren’t in the exact spot you’re eyeing as the “better” spot, you can’t know exactly what it will entail. What you can know is the why of your desire to move. Perhaps you’re bitter, angry, frustrated, anxious, exhausted, excited, or a myriad of other experiences that can be motivating. Are you ready to work on and through whatever is going on in your life? If so, get on with it! Ask God in which direction you’re supposed to step, and go there.

Be prepared for some hard work along the way. Be prepared to leave some things behind. Sometimes that means you leave behind what motivated you to move in the first place. The key isn’t what you think you need, what you believe is wrong with where you are, or where you think you should go. The key is what God says about what you need, what’s wrong with where you are, and where you should go.

Moving isn’t easy. It requires a lot of sorting, packing, and organizing. Yet moving is essential. If you’re not moving, you’re not growing. If you’re alive, you should be growing. God has a plan for the exact moments you are on this earth, and every single moment is intricately involved with your personal spiritual growth in relationship with him. There are times you want to be someplace else, but be certain the someplace else is the center of God’s will. You often won’t know the specifics of what his will looks like or where it is, but if you’re determined to continually move into it, God will constantly guide you as you pack, travel, sort, unpack, and organize throughout your life.

Too Much Stuff In My Hands

Every hand was full.

I’m not talking about my own hands. I looked around the airport and starting searching for hands that had nothing in them. There were entire families with not a single hand free. The kids toted miniature suitcases on rollers and sippy cups. Or they wore small backpacks but clung to a favorite stuffed animal with both hands. They’d made it through security and no one was going to tear their well-loved buddies from them again for a long time.

Moms had the overflow of the kids’ stuff: everything they’d pulled out of their bags while trying to entertain themselves or those items the kids needed to keep in sight for comfort but couldn’t carry. Of course, moms also had their own purses and carry-on luggage. Those who could juggle also firmly grasped a favorite Starbucks drink.

And then there were the dads. In some cases, they were nearly imperceptibly human. A variety of bags hung from every available limb. Often times, hands clung to two bags at once, pulling fingers in contorted directions. One dad had looped his arms through the luggage handles, so he could carry the entire family’s lunch, including a full drink tray.

The Styx song, Too Much Time on My Hands, played in my head as I watched people loaded down with stuff. I  slightly adjusted the lyrics. People getting off planes were juggling stuff. People getting onto planes were juggling stuff. There were those, who likely travel often, who didn’t have much luggage but still had a coffee cup in one hand and a phone, e-reader or other device in the other. I felt crowded, and I realized it wasn’t because of the people swarming around me. It was the vast amount of stuff!

I have too much stuff. I’ll admit it. I’m no hoarder. I don’t have everything I could ever want, but I have too much. How do I know?

Because I have plenty. My guess is you have plenty, too.

Plenty is more than enough. So today, I’m challenging you (and myself) to share. It will be a double blessing. Sharing will bless someone else in need (or perhaps want). Sharing will bless you, because it will lift a burden. You can’t possibly hold everything you have in your hands anyway. Why juggle and potentially drop it? Just go ahead and share it now. Be intentional. You don’t have to wait until something is outdated, half-broken, or forgotten. Hand it off to someone.

Share your plenty.

You had plenty of everything, but you did not serve the Lord your God with joy and a pure heart. (Deuteronomy 28:47)