As the girls squealed with delight, running through the cool water from the sprinkler, playing together so nicely, cheating the water restrictions a little bit by providing recreation for my kids in the form of watering my grass, my heart swelled. I felt so blessed. I thought to myself, "My cup truly runneth over."
If you don't live in central Georgia, you might not be aware that we are, yet again, in the midst of a pretty serious drought. I'm talking the you-better-wear-shoes-when-you-walk-on-the-grass-'cuz-it's-crunchy kind of drought. Because we're so industrialized, the average homeowner doesn't have to concern themselves with this fact much. Most of them hear about watering restrictions, and blatantly ignore them on the quest for the perfectly green lawn. It was this fact that really hit me this morning. As my neighbors and I utilize our timer-operated, pop-up sprinkler heads to water our lawns with treated, potable water whether in accordance with the watering restrictions or not, I got a pit in my stomach.
Here we are - essentially wasting pure, treated water on our grass when so many people in third-world countries don't even have water to drink. It's not a matter of having pretty grass there. It's a matter of life or death.
I'm not really sure what the solution to this is. It's not like I can bottle up my sprinkler water and ship it to Ethiopia.
But do you see what I mean?
We are completely blind to our blessings.
I thank God every time I remember to for the privilege of living in the United States of America, but what is the cost of living here? We are so consumed with ourselves and the pursuit of the American Dream that we simply put the sufferings of others out of our hearts and minds and replace it with our own "sufferings" - like not being able to match the paint on our walls to our bedspread and falling short of attaining a golf-course-like lawn and feeling a need to fill our closet with exceedingly frivolous choices of attire, all of which, if it's not obvious, are completely meaningless when you consider our purpose for this life.
When looking through my kids' wardrobes this year, I noticed that Abby was lacking summer shirts and Ben was lacking shorts. They have some of each of those things, but those were the things I decided they "needed" when I went shopping at Kohl's yesterday. And here I am, today, convicted about those purchases.
I could give away 90% of my possessions and still not "need" a thing.
I know it's not just me that's guilty of this mentality. It might not be all Americans or just Americans. It might be an infection on anyone in the whole world that is able to want frivolous things. I don't know. But, today, I find myself convicted.
19 “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; 20 but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. (Matthew 6:19-21)When I lost my job in December, it was barely a month later that Sam applied for and received a promotion at work. And any minute of time I'd spent considering the implications of my lost income were revealed to me as a complete and total waste of time. Because God had sent us a message. Essentially, it was this - "Jennie, relax. I've got this."
24 Consider the ravens: they neither sow nor reap, they have neither storehouse nor barn, and yet God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds! 25And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? 26If then you are not able to do as small a thing as that, why are you anxious about the rest? 27Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 28But if God so clothes the grass, which is alive in the field today, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, how much more will he clothe you, O you of little faith! (Luke 12:24-28)One day (just not May 21, 2012), Jesus will return. On that day, according to 2 Peter 3:10,
10But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed.Basically, all of this "stuff" - the paint colors, the lawn, the clothes, the 401k - it's going to be gone. Whether it's the day the Lord returns or the day we die. It doesn't matter.
Instead of running ourselves into debt over TVs, cameras, new cars, and vacations, we need to consider the debt that was paid on our behalf. And what we "owe" in return. One of the ten books I read recently was entitled Radical: Taking Back Your Faith from the American Dream. Short of the Bible itself, I don't think a book has ever convicted me in such a way before. David Platt talks about our "debt".
Every saved person this side of heaven owes the gospel to every lost person this side of hell. We owe Christ to the world - to the least person and to the greatest person, to the richest person and to the poorest person, to the best person and to the worst person. We are in debt to the nations. Encompassed with debt though, in our approach to missions, we have subtly taken ourselves out from the weight of a lost and dying world, wrung our hands in pious concern, and said, "I'm sorry. I'm just not called to do that."Paul essentially wrote this very thing in Romans 1:14-15 - "I am in debt to the Jews and the Gentiles." That's all-inclusive.
While I was out there mowing the grass, consumed with guilt over my extravagances, convicted about my witness, I thought of this exchange from Schindler's List. There at the end, when Oskar Schindler realizes the gravity of the situation.
Oskar Schindler: I could have got more out. I could have got more. I don't know. If I'd just... I could have got more.
Itzhak Stern: Oskar, there are eleven hundred people who are alive because of you. Look at them.
Oskar Schindler: If I'd made more money... I threw away so much money. You have no idea. If I'd just...
Itzhak Stern: There will be generations because of what you did.
Oskar Schindler: I didn't do enough!
Itzhak Stern: You did so much.
[Schindler looks at his car]
Oskar Schindler: This car. Goeth would have bought this car. Why did I keep the car? Ten people right there. Ten people. Ten more people.
[removing Nazi pin from lapel]
Oskar Schindler: This pin. Two people. This is gold. Two more people. He would have given me two for it, at least one. One more person. A person, Stern. For this.
Oskar Schindler: I could have gotten one more person... and I didn't! And I... I didn't!
He may have been talking about Jews during the Holocaust, but this is how we should feel as Christians. When our numbered days come to an end, will we be able to say that we did everything we could to save our brothers & sisters while we had the chance?
If this were my last breath, I know what my answer would be. (Hello, Holy Spirit. Yes. You have convicted me.)
Maybe I should have waited until I determined what it is that God wants from me before I wrote and posted this, but the fact remains that I have been put on my face today. We are all so blessed - and this includes the very next breath that we are permitted to breathe. We are here for a short time, so we need to concern ourselves with things eternal. Not the temporary things - because these temporary things are just that. Things.
When you consider that even those in the higher echelons of the lower-class in America are more wealthy than 80% of the world population, it tells you something about met needs.
It's not just my cup running over. It's yours too.
So we have food, shelter, and clothing. But where are our hearts?