Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Appreciating Abundance This Thanksgiving Season

In the book Daring Greatly, Brenee Brown writes about global activist Lynne Twist’s perspective on the subject of the scarcity mentality we are prone to.  Consider this:

What are our thoughts when we first wake in the morning? “Ugh, I didn’t get enough sleep!”

And once we’ve glanced at our calendar for the day? “Yikes, I don’t have enough time to get all of this done!”

Our day perhaps is filled with a litany of “never good enough,” “never thin enough,” “never powerful enough,” “never safe enough.”

By the end of the day, we are reflecting on what we didn’t get that day, or didn’t get done, or still don’t have in our lives.

Scarcity, writes Brown, is the “never enough” problem.

Brown suggests that when we free ourselves from the scarcity mentality, we discover the value and benefits of…enough.

Twist suggests that when we free ourselves from the scarcity mentality, we discover the value and benefits of…sufficiency.

I’ve been tossing all these words and concepts around in my mind this Thanksgiving week, and I’ve come to the conclusion that through the grace of God, I can set my scarcity mentality aside in favor or His great and promised…abundance.

The promise that lies at the heart of the gospel is a promise of abundance:  “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).  That’s not just a good life, or a long life—that’s a forever life with God. Abundance.

And to show that abundance is not just a word for Jesus, he displayed this principle of abundance in his miracles
  • not just a little water turned into wine at the wedding banquet, but six stones water jars holding 20 to 30 gallons each (John 2);
  • not just water from the well that lasts for a single day promised to the Samaritan woman, but “a spring of water welling up to eternal life” (John 4);
  • not just a man carried to a pool for a chance that its waters will cure his disease, but a healing that allows him to pick up and carry his mat—that very Sabbath, right to the temple (John 5);
  • not just enough lunch to feed a huge crowd of 5000 men and their accompanying women and children, but with enough leftovers to fill twelve baskets (John 6);
  • not just healing the son of a royal official (John 4) or a man born blind (John 9), but bringing a man back to life who has been in the tomb for four full days (John 11);
  • not just a nice catch of fish for some hardworking fishermen grieving for their slain friend and leader, but a haul so huge they are unable to bring in the net because of the large number of fish (John 21).

The examples of abundance through Jesus are abundant!

Further, Paul reminds us in his letter to the Ephesian church that God “is able to do far more abundantly than all we ask or think, according to the power at work within us” (3:20).

And in his letter to the Romans, he describes the Holy Spirit providing us with an abundance of hope born out of a fullness of joy and peace in believing (15:13); again, as in the verse above, he references a power within us-- the Holy Spirit, within us by the grace of God.

In 2 Corinthians, Paul points out that this grace of God is so abundant that it provides everything we need—“sufficiency in all things at all times”—so we can be abundant in the good works that we do (9:8).

And examples of abundance through Jesus are abundant in our own lives, if we are willing to pause and take notice of them.  Ann Voskamp points out, “Everyone gets to decide how happy they want to be, because everyone gets to decide how grateful they are willing to be.”

Right now, I am in circumstances that make it easy to be content; I pray that you are, too!  But our challenge is to learn alongside the apostle Paul “to be content whatever the circumstances”…well fed or hungry, in plenty or in want (Philippians 4:11-12).  It’s so easy to be content right now, when I just spent $100 yesterday at the grocery store for food for my family, and sit snugly on a sofa in a home filled with healthy and happy family members.

But how can we be content when faced with the opposite circumstances…the “hungry” and “in-want” end of the equation? 

“I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength” (Philippians 4:13).

That’s no easy answer, no flip response, no fortune-cookie proverb. It is a hard-won understanding made possible only through a daily commitment to accepting the grace of God no matter what the circumstances of that day.

My prayer this Thanksgiving week is that you will leave aside an attitude of scarcity, and embrace the abundance so abundantly exemplified by Christ—promised in his words, exemplified in his miracles, and taught by his followers.

My prayer is that you will look to Christ for your abundance, which is the strength you need for whatever circumstances you are facing.

My prayer is that you are able to see the abundance of blessings that are already yours through grace from God, strength from Christ, and power from the Holy Spirit.

Have a truly blessed Thanksgiving!

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