I’d like to ask you a question. Would you say that your life is mostly characterized by scarcity or abundance?
Go ahead. Look away from this text, look around, think about it, and answer the question.
Now, how did you determine your answer? Did your mind instinctively review your possessions? Your bank account? The things you go without? The things you wish you could give your kids? Your charitable contributions?
Or did you think about your fears? Did you think about all of your contingency plans? Your failsafes? Your probiotics, vitamins and exercise regiment? Your 401K? The plans you’ve made to ensure that you’ll never have to ask for help…never be indebted to anyone…never have to ask for anything…never be at the mercy of anyone?
I’ll tell you what doesn’t make sense: a kid in a nice restaurant who won’t order anything because she doesn’t want to be a burden to her parents.
“No it’s ok…I’ll go hungry. I don’t want you to have to provide for me”. (Suffers hunger pangs all night and worries about how she will get her next meal all on her own).
Do you live this way? I do.
I’ll give you a small example.
One of the ministries at Mountain Christian Church with which I am privileged to serve is called Shine. Through Shine, our church is partnered with A. Montoya Elementary. The purpose of this partnership is for us to work out our calling as people who have been infinitely loved by loving those within the A. Montoya community. As we do that, we work to bring relief to the suffering and build bridges between ourselves and our community. We get to support the school in the many things the staff and PTA do to educate and invest in the students there. One recent event we had the privilege of participating in was A. Montoya’s Fall Festival. Almost as soon as I found out about this event, I encountered my own attitude of scarcity.
First, I had a tough time with the fact that I wasn’t going to be able to attend the festival myself. I am the coordinator of this ministry, and as such, am the one with the most connections, knowledge, and comfort at the school. The idea of sending my friends in to serve without me made me very uneasy. How would they know where to go? Who to talk to? Where to set up? Who would be there to introduce them to people? They wouldn’t know anyone and would just have to figure it out alone! Without ME! (I do see how ridiculous this is now, but at the time, these concerns seemed very valid).
Second, a brave friend of mine offered to run the cake walk at the festival. We needed cakes to last for 2 hours of game play. None of us was sure how many that would be, but we knew it would be A LOT. The PTA president told us that in years past, they’d simply bought lots of cupcakes so that they could give one cupcake away with each cake walk round; because you know…otherwise, how would you have enough cakes to give away? I was already nervous about that…about not having enough. I ran this idea by my brave friend.
“Hmmm. You know what?”, she said, “I’m hoping we can bless their socks off and do cakes. I’m praying this morning for God to provide that.”
My brave friend lives with an attitude of abundance. She must know of Someone who loves to provide.
We asked for cakes.
Let me tell you…I don’t know if anyone in the history of cake walks has ever sweated a cake walk so badly as I did. For the next 2 weeks, I worried. I apologized to my brave friend and the others who so generously stepped up to give their time at the festival for not being able to serve with them. I felt guilty for asking them to be there, even though I wouldn’t be. I came up with several plans on how to get more cakes to the school in the event that our church couldn’t provide enough. I sent out announcements using every communication tool we have to attempt to get the word out that we needed cakes.
Scarcity. As if it’s all up to me. As if I’m all alone.
I left on a trip with my husband, and prayed. But my brave friend, she’d already prayed…long before I made my plans. I prayed now, because there was nothing else I could do.
As you see, an attitude of scarcity drives frantic action without guaranteed results. “We need, we don’t have, we must act.” By contrast, an attitude of abundance drives hope with joyful expectation. “We need, He provides, we ask.”
My brave friend didn’t show up at church at 7 a.m. the morning of the festival to see how many cakes she’d have to go out and buy. She walked in an hour and a half before, just as she’d planned, and shed tears of joy at the abundance that she found.
75 cakes. 75 big, sugary cakes. That’s how many we had.
And some parents at A. Montoya…they brought more. There were 92 cakes given away that night, the last one handed over at 7:00, the very last minute of the festival. There were exactly enough cakes.
God provided exactly what was needed; and He didn’t need any of my contingency plans, and He didn’t need us to lower our expectations.
What brings more joy to the parents of that kid in the restaurant…to see her enjoy their provision of a nice dinner for her, or to watch her starve herself?
Friends…why do we starve ourselves and look frantically about us for fulfillment of our needs, when our Father is the giver of all good gifts?
My brave friend..I should really call her my faithful friend…and this cake walk have taught me something big about being thankful.
If I insist on clinging to my attitude of scarcity, I rob myself of gifts my heavenly Father would be delighted to give me.
I miss out on the relationship-building experience of coming to Him in my need and seeing Him provide. I become increasingly dependent upon myself, knowing full well my own inadequacy to provide for myself. I choose anxiety over peace; fear over joy.
This month, as we ponder giving thanks, would you consider with me your attitude toward your Provider?
Would you accept the challenge to pray first…to seek God’s provision first…before you fly into action?
He is glorified when we rely on Him instead of on ourselves. He is delighted to give, and is honored when our lives become a display of His goodness and generosity. He is magnified when His provision becomes the source our daily joy and peace.
“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” - John 10:10