Despite what you see when you look at my life, I am ridiculously wealthy. I am not speaking symbolically of the blessings in my life like my amazing wife, or my health, or even the spiritual blessings that God pours out to his children. No, when I look at my life I realize that I am disproportionally wealthy in comparison to the rest of the world, and I wonder how much that keeps me from understanding Jesus.
I have been considering this more over the last few weeks, but this week especially God used three moments to highlight how far away I live from people who truly struggle to live.
I sat down to make my lunch on Tuesday and low and behold we had some left over hamburgers that I had grilled the night before. I noticed that there was an ear of corn left from the end of last week and some mushrooms from our first Green BEAN Delivery. So I whipped up a quick lunch consisting of spicy corn, and a delicious, all-natural hamburger topped with cheese, chipotle-sautéed mushrooms, and organic lettuce. As I enjoyed my lunch, I thought to myself, “Why do I get to enjoy this kind of lunch?” I have never wondered if I was going to miss a meal, ever. I followed that lunch up with the dinner in the photo above consisting of local, all-natural sirloin steak topped with organic mushrooms, asparagus, and potatoes, all of which were delivered to my house last Tuesday. Seriously, why do I get to live like this?
Wednesday’s DAV Donation
We got a card last week that the organization Disabled American Veterans was going around collecting clothes and other items this past Wednesday. All we had to do was bag them up and mark them, and off they would go to someone who needed them. We knew we had a purge in our future so we were glad for the opportunity, and Tuesday night we tore through our winter and summer clothes to find all the stuff we were through using. As I looked at the 3 GARBAGE BAGS of clothes that we were just giving away, I thought, “This is disgusting. This isn’t even the stuff we’re keeping – it’s the stuff we’ve deemed unacceptable.” It struck me that we just have too much stuff.
The Great Famine of 1921
I scour the internet looking for audio and video that I can listen to while I work during the day. Tuesday I visited the PBS website and as I flipped through the American Experience episodes I found an episode about the Great Famine of 1921. It is the story about how Soviet Russia nearly starved to death as a nation. The stories are gruesome, and they point out a reality that for much of the world, throughout most of history, food has not been guaranteed. This is the piece that brought the whole thing home for me. I saw the images of hundreds of starving children, barely recognizable as people, huddled in a home just waiting to die.
How many people in history have lived THIS life?
How does the good news of Jesus reach to this corner of human history?
Have I understood the question wrong? Am I living in the corner, while this is the life most people know?
As I sit pondering my own wealth, from my 1100 square foot, air-conditioned house in rural Indiana, where most people would look at my 1995 Isuzu Rodeo and figure I must be just getting by, I wonder in what ways have I misunderstood the call of Jesus on my life. Can I, a person who has never even sniffed a day of poverty, really understand what it means when Jesus says that he came to free the oppressed and to bring good news to the poor? Over and over again the bible says that God is on the side of the poor and the oppressed, the widow and the orphan, and I wonder how many times I thought that meant he was somehow on my side too. When I read the story about the rich young ruler, do I find it a challenge to my own way of life, or do I take the easy way out and decide that I ought to stand with the disciples and ask, “Who then can be saved?” When I do that, I can take solace in Jesus’ words that anything is possible with God, but that’s a cop-out. The disciples had already given everything to follow Jesus. They had already left family and job and home to wander the area with Jesus as he declared that the Kingdom of God is at hand. No, I need to begin to hear more clearly the words to the rich young man, the chilling call to “sell everything you have and give the money to poor and follow me.”
Am I willing? Or will I go away sad, because I have great wealth?
How has the relative wealth of the United States and other countries in the west kept you from understanding Jesus?
What else did I learn this week?
All civilizations of this world have an expiration date. We do well to remember this fact and hold on to them loosely. (Is this what Jesus meant about storing up treasures where rust and moth destroy?)
Indiana is the least green state. Yes!
Monkey see, monkey do!
Micah’s starting to do his fake talking, like all toddlers do. He babbles on and on and we have no clue what he’s saying. What I learned this week though, is that he’s picking up my habits. As he talks about something of unquestionable importance, he begins to wave his arms around and hold his hands out. Anyone who has ever watched me speak knows it’s an act that takes my full body to express what I want to say. In moments like these I find myself wondering if there are times in my life that God looks at me and says, “He looks like me right there!” I sure hope so.