Sunday, September 13, 2009

Slowly Processing...

Wow, there has been a lot to think about lately. As I have tried to process through it all, I have only realized that I am not wise enough to process it all, so I'm going to try to lay it out there and pray that the Holy Spirit makes some sense of it. I have so many thoughts rolling around in my head, and somehow I know in my heart that they are all linked together. I just need a moment to process them, to see where they tie together. In warning, this one might be a bit long winded, but I am hoping that it comes to a point, somewhere along the line. Feel free to move on, though, if it's too long-winded for you. I guess this one is much more for me to work things out than anything else. You're free to stick around if you like.

My grandfather wrote to me this week in response to all the buzz of the healthcare reform. While my grandfather and I have profoundly different political views, I deeply respect him as the elder of our family. He has seen things in his lifetime that I cannot fathom, including an amazing advancement of technology, a few wars, more than a few presidents, a Great Depression, and many more dips and rises in the economy through the years, etc. Here is a bit of what he wrote to me that really caught my attention though. For some reason, this has stuck on my heart everyday since I read it:
I believe that the term "entitlement" as commonly used re government/citizen relationships in this country refers to the obligation of our government to take care of the citizenry of our country. In my memory, the first entitlement program in this democracy was social security, established by Franklin Roosevelt in the 1930s. We were in a deep depression, as you may know. We did not spend money we did not have. Dad sold my small flock of chickens I had raised to pay the grocery bill. Many times during my highschool days, I caught a ride home with a neighbor so that I could pick two ears of corn from our adjacent farm as my lunch for the day. In the summer, I worked at a grocery from 7 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. five days a week and 7 a.m. to 10:30 P.m. on Saturdays all for $7.00 a week--and glad to get it. Out of that, I bought my lunch, daily for about $0.40 at a nearby cafe. Many people had no work at all. The grocer was a family friend!!!
Mercy, this has so touched my heart. I know nothing of this world that he speaks of, of the values that he refers to. Now don't get me wrong, we work hard to instill values into our family and our kids, but somehow, this is so different. I am inspired by what my grandfather has written. See, when I moved out of my parents' home at 18, I was armed with 3 credit cards and absolutely no knowledge of stewardship whatsoever. If I had, I spent. If I didn't have, I spent. If I wanted it, sure enough I could buy it. Just whip out the plastic. And 3 credit cards slowly (quickly) grew to more than three, my favorite at the time being my Victoria's Secret card. Now don't judge. I didn't know Christ in those years, somehow in my mind, I didn't know that sacrifice and going without was better than debt. In fact, in my mind, sacrifice was a humiliation that was not worth its weight.

businesswoman wearing ball and chain in desert, low angle view
Well, as you can imagine, it didn't take long to amass an incredible amount of debt. An INCREDIBLE amount of debt. When I came to know Christ at 22, I was just about buried in my debt, so when I began to learn about stewardship and dealing responsibly with my finances for Kingdom sake, I was so overwhelmed with where I was. By God's grace, though, He does not leave us where we are, and He did a great work in my life. I can boast in Him these days that we worked hard and sacrificed to get all of that credit card debt paid off, but somehow I still had not fully learned my lesson. I am stubborn and quite hard-headed, and obviously quite slow to learn lessons. God knows this. You see, I still carry plastic with me. Initially it was for "emergency sake," but that morphed over time to using the plastic for points, or for convenience sake. And then it was being used if we came up a bit short on cash at the end of the month. You can see where that's going.

So, in the midst of all of this, the healthcare debate began to take shape. I'm chiming in on the debate, all the while praising God that we are healthy and not needing healthcare attention, knowing that that sort of cost would be devastating to us. I had vowed in my heart before God to go back to our "cash only" system, as that seemed to hold me accountable for spending the best. And then sickness struck our home. So, two urgent care visits later, and a $300 plus bill wiped out our grocery budget for the month.

My first instinct? Break out the plastic and head to the grocery store. It was just about this time that the email from my grandfather arrived. And somehow in the midst of all of this turmoil, I knew that God was teaching me a lesson. You see, several times within the last few days, I have come across the story in Exodus 16, of God providing the Israelite people with manna in the morning. They were told to take exactly enough to get them through the day, and those who did not trust the Lord took too much, hoarding it for the next day. But the extra manna that had been taken for the next day ended up rotting and full of maggots. I have read it, I have blogged about it, someone used it conversation with me to encourage and exhort. Praise Jesus that He knows I am slow to learn. He just continues to drive it home. I'm started to realize that maybe I should get this one. Just what exactly it is though, I have not nailed down yet.

To me, this is all very interesting thoughts in light of our current situation. I am accustomed to doing grocery shopping for a at least a week at a time, for convenience sake, of course. I like to plan out a menu and do one thorough grocery trip. But now...well, now I can only look at how creative I can be for our next meal.

How do we ask God to provide for our daily bread if we've already taken care of it ourselves?

Well, needless to say, I have put the plastic away, yet again, and began to get very creative with the "staple" items in the pantry, until those have become very depleted. And then, God provided bread for us. Literally, as a friend dropped off a loaf of bread, some butter, meat in the freezer and two gift cards for the local grocery store. I felt some of the glory of the early Church in this generous act of a friend.

It is humbling, downright humiliating, to struggle in such a manner. But I have seen God's grace in it as I have pleaded for a content heart. I want to glorify Him. I want to depend on Him.

In all of this talk about healthcare, stewardship, and daily bread, I know that God must be in it somewhere. The events are too "coincidental" to not be Him. It leads me to thoughts of Jubilee and of the early Church, and the system that God had set up originally for His people. Surely there is a better way for us, as followers of Christ, above political lines, above partisan biases, above denominations, above national boundary lines.

That's probably enough for today. I'll try to unpack more of it tomorrow. I can't seem to get away from thoughts of the early Church. Maybe it'll make more sense tomorrow.

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  1. Shauna,

    You are such an inspiration for me. Thank you for your long-winded thoughts. I couldn't appreciate them more. Your influence on my life has not been slight. I miss you so much!

  2. Hopped over by 'chance' and have been very blessed in doing so. So many of us need to embrace the cash only lifestyle. Starting with me. In fact, I think I'll blog about it too if I can get up the nerve...

    Thanks for your post.


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