Dear Partners in Ministry,
The world continues to change at a rapid rate and many of us find it difficult to keep up. We traverse through life in a whirlwind of activity filled with schedules, appointments, commitments, expectations – all of which demand so much of our energy and literally pack our every waking moment. There are work schedules, doctor appointments, family “want a do’s” and “gotta do’s,” household chores, church commitments, children’s activity schedules, homework, not to mention all the fix-up, repair and maintenance that goes into all of our possessions – taking care of all “those things we think we own but really own us.” An additional area we frequently overlook is the time and energy consumed in maintaining our physical bodies – food, clothing, shelter, healthcare, not to mention those times of entertainment that we see are necessary to sooth our weary minds of all the pressures saturating our lives. At the root of this chaos is the mindset of “scarcity” and because of it we work more, buy more, desire more and are distracted from seeing the abundance God has provided. This scarcity mindset is so strong we are convinced more is better and bigger is better.
In Lynne Twist’s book, titled The Soul of Money, she addresses this scarcity mindset stating, “For me, and for many of us, our first thought of the day is ‘I didn’t get enough sleep.’ The next one is ‘I don’t have enough time.’ Whether true or not, that thought of not enough occurs to us automatically before we even think to question or examine it. We spend most of the hours and days of our lives hearing, explaining, complaining, or worrying about what we don’t have enough of. We don’t have enough time. We don’t have enough rest. We don’t have enough exercise. We don’t have enough work. We don’t have enough profits. We don’t have enough weekends. Of course, we don’t have enough money - ever…And by the time we go to bed at night, our minds race with a litany of what we didn’t get, or didn’t get done that day. We go to sleep burdened by those thoughts and wake up to that reverie of lack” (44).
With that being said, where is there intentional time for reflection on the things of God? So much of what we do denies the existence of a supreme being. Look at the list above. Who needs a God Almighty to keep us busy? We do a great job of that ourselves. But who really wants to live in a world where what we think, say, and do is really the final word. If this is our individual heaven and we are so busy that we can hardly see straight, or financially strapped that we can’t take a breather, or sick that we can’t enjoy life; then possibly, of all people, we need a God Almighty who sees the broad picture and loves us in spite of the mess we create for ourselves and the empty dreams we chase.
I am reminded of the story of Elijah as he hid from the God of abundance in a cave because his world was out of control due to the fact that he allowed the world view that uses God's generous gifts to chase after the world of never ending demands, challenges, and fears. God came to him, not in the chaos of the fire, wind, or storm, but in a still small voice that provided him with the confident direction that God was still in control.
May each of us have a similar experience in the days and weeks to come where our faith is confirmed as we hear and follow God’s direction and not the world’s. I am not trying to minimize the challenge this may present for each of us; in fact, this reflective state is painful to say the least as it draws attention to our waywardness. However, our God loves and forgives us enough to redirect us when we lend our ears to listening. Over the coming months, let each of us take stock of our own personal lives and intentionally reflect on the abundance God has provided and not dwell on the constant threat of scarcity the world continuously uses to distract us.
In Christ’s Service,
Pastor John J. Gropp
Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church of Sheraden, 3102 Sherwood Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15204 412-331-0600