Saturday, March 12, 2016

A Rich Man

 When J told me she hadn’t slept well the night before, I wasn’t overly surprised as she is often up in the night for various reasons. 

“Why didn’t you sleep?” I asked. Her stressed out little response made me laugh and still has me thinking,  “Mama, I am a rich person, and it is difficult for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of Heaven!”(from the story of the rich young ruler in Matthew 19, Mark 10 and Luke 18).

She vocalized a tension I feel in a significant way at least once a week. I don’t feel the tension of being unsure of my salvation, but the awkward lumbering footsteps of a rich person in a very poor area. The weight, the responsibility and an acute need for wisdom that wealth brings. While living in the US, it wasn’t so readily at the front of my thoughts as most people around us, lived very similarly to us. Sitting through training with overseas workers from multiple countries, I have also over the week heard multiple evacuation stories, where with a few hours notice, they had to get on a plane and there was no chance to go back to their houses to say goodbye or grab anything. They left their countries of residence with clothes on their back and passport in hand and that’s it. 

Reflection on this makes me aware of my heart ties to stuff. In the medical course we’ve also had a break out session on our cross-cultural servanthood and talked through worldview issues that differ from a Western mindset to the 2/3 world. The view on “stuff” is so opposite. (Every possession is for the good of community and freely borrowed, lent, given, etc). Westerners tend to be more possessive of “our” stuff and time but will generously give money. 

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Once again, I come to this space with more questions than answers, driving all the solution-oriented people to distraction. 

How do you wrestle with this tension? What are things God has shown you in it?



Anonymous said...

I am humbled, sobered and blessed that J is wrestling with what most adults and followers of Him don't address even after years of following.

In my country of service it is a bit different since we live in a neighborhood with other local university staff and extended families. Thus, we mostly live like the community around us. This doesn't change the perception, though, that we are richer than those around us, even though some earn more than we do. And one fact that doesn't change is that our passport is a kind of "richness" that others don't have and some wish they did have. This is especially awkward as I didn't choose my country of origin. He allowed me to be born there. Another interesting twist is when my students come to the States and visit me while I am on breaks there and discover I am "poor" (no house, not a lot of margin financially...) by American standards. In some cases they realize that as wealthier or more well-off kids from China (many of those who make it to the States), they may actually be "richer" than me.

That all said, we have many more resources than most in the world. This does convict and call us to greater responsibility to share. It also is built into our lifestyle, with many transitions/ moves in which He uncurls my fingers from "my stuff" repeatedly with each move and/or sabbatical. Each time I pack up I throw or give away, and then put the rest into storage where mold, rust and moths literally often eat it up. Thus, each time it is a reminder to store up eternal treasures in heaven, where it matters.

Anonymous said...

Sorry the above was from Stephany

Anonymous said...

Thanks for such a thought provoking post. Love bringing these things to light!


sarah.flyingkites said...

This was such a good post and convicting. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

Teresa said...

Such a sweet adult like thinking from J. You and Jon have obviously worked with your girls that they have that kind of understanding. You've shared some convicting points. It is so easy to give our money, but I know that I hold my time pretty carefully. You guys and other missionaries are often in my prayers.