We have a photo of a little girl on our fridge. She stands barefoot in the dirt, wearing a blue dress and a somber expression and she looks much older than her 4 years. Her eyes stood out to me the most when we were looking through pictures in order to choose a child to sponsor, and she radiated a sweetness and an innocence that touched my heart – she shares the same birthday as our baby girl and we call her her god-sister from Africa.
Lately, I’ve been battling waves of guilt as I want to talk to God about the “more” that I’m feeling the need for in my life, yet I see her sweet face looking at me every day and know that she does without the majority of the things that I take for granted on a daily basis. Why me? Why was I born here and not her?
Now, to be clear, the “more” I’m asking for is nothing outlandish and worldly….I would love to have more kids. I would love to have a house so we can fit those more kids without more insanity in this apartment. I desperately want more green space of our own so we can be outdoors more where we thrive and feel at peace. I pray for more opportunity to expand the blog/ministry. I pray for more good health and for more positive things to happen at my husband’s job. I pray for more years to share with my family, creating memories and loving each other well.
But I feel more guilt for even asking God for these things, when I know that so many people in the world are scraping by with way less than less.
But the other day as I was fighting with myself in my mind – “Do I pray for these things? Do I just not want them? How do I let myself feel that I ‘need’ more, knowing others are barely surviving?” – I heard that still, small voice, and the Holy Spirit just told me, “You are where you are for a reason. You will be given what you will be given for a reason. Your purpose is unique to your circumstances and your location – the purpose God has for you would not have been able to be fulfilled in Africa, or Asia, or even in Texas, so that’s why God didn’t put you there. He will give you what you need, and yes, maybe some of what you want, as long as its all for His glory! Be a funnel, that whatever He blesses you with is in turn a blessing to those around you.”
As I thought about that, a peace just came over me. As I thought about it more, I realized that the “more” in our lives is really just circumstance. All it boils down to, whether you have much or little, is where your heart is, and would you still have the same relationship with God if all the “more” was taken away? Do you use your “more” for yourself or for Him?
I don’t think its wrong for me to be craving more space for our family, or more time to spend with them, or even more kids, but I believe God has allowed this season of “just enough” in my life for the past few years to really get that through my thick skull – where I was born geographically, culturally, and on the social ladder wasn’t my fault or my choice, but what IS my choice is what I do with it. When I have plenty, do I see it as my own to hoard or spend, or do I use it to help others and invest back into the kingdom? When I have a little, do I hold it tightly in my fist and go through crazy machinations to get more, or do I trust that God will provide and act generously?
Neither poverty nor wealth spread the gospel more effectively, we need to remember that. Jesus said that the rich young ruler should sell all that he owned because he knew it was a HEART issue, not a wealth issue. The foundation of our lives must stay the same regardless of our temporal circumstances – Jesus has to be the foundation, no matter the “extras” that change your circumstances. The world likes to measure everyone by wealth and possessions, but in the scope of eternity, the only thing that matters is hearts – hearts that are turned toward Jesus, or hearts that have turned away.
So as I’m working through this, I remember that its not honoring to God to have guilt over where He has placed me in my life, and I come back to the verses:
“You do not have because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.” — James 4:2-3
“”If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!” – Matthew 7:11
“So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” — Matthew 6:31-33
And then, of course, I’ve been talking to God about it. Us buying a house will not change how I feel about Him, (other than one more source of gratefulness in my life!) and I know that even if we aren’t able to buy one this year, He is still the same gracious God He is now when we are in a small apartment. Me having more kids will not change my relationship with Him…other than maybe praying for more patience! My earthly circumstances may change, but I pray to be so rooted in my relationship with God that I am almost not mindful of that change – I have a long way to go, I know, but that is where I want to be. I want to have that extra space and see it as a way to minister to others through opening it up and extending hospitality. I want to have a little extra in the bank after the bills are paid and see it as a few dollars I can give back to someone else instead of what they can buy ME. I want to sponsor as many babies as we can to show them that the love of God isn’t constrained by miles, or cultural differences or anything else – He is far reaching, and defies any circumstances! I want to be willing to hold all the things I am given with open hands, so that they can be used for others and given over to God, who gave them in the first place!
More isn’t a bad thing…but I pray for more of God in me most of all.