Saving the good stuff

“Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘I am going to rain bread from heaven for you, and each day the people shall go out and gather enough for that day. In that way I will test them, whether they will follow my instruction or not.’” Exodus 16:4

I was really happy with a devotional I had written and I thought I’d post it to my blog. Then I thought of the devotionals I had committed to writing for a publisher and I wondered about copyright issues. If I posted it here I might not be able to send it to the publisher, so maybe I should hold onto it and save it for that purpose. The problem with that, however, was that the essay wouldn’t be published for almost a year. Was I really going to wait that long to share it? Waiting really meant that I wasn’t confident that I’d have more good ideas to write about. A lack of confidence had me thinking about saving the “good stuff” in fear of a future scarcity. What if I couldn’t write more essays that I was happy with to send to the publisher?

Fortunately, my faith teaches me that God’s inspiration and grace are not finite resources. I do not have to live with a mindset of scarcity, but can live with a belief in God’s abundance. Like the Israelites who were given their daily manna and quails, I can give of myself each day and be confident that the well of inspiration will not run dry.

Are you saving your good stuff (love, talent, money, time), fearful that if you share it with others you may not get any more in the future? At Thanksgiving we are reminded to give thanks and share our abundance with others, but at other times of the year (or even the next week!) that mindset slips away. With repeated practice can we change our minds and our habits. We can do so by surrounding ourselves with stories of faith, remembering acts of bravery and good will carried out in the face of ill will, and giving thanks for the daily blessings and grace we receive.

Oscar Hammerstein wrote the following lyrics and they remind me to be generous in sharing: “A bell’s not a bell ’til you ring it – A song’s not a song ’til you sing it – Love in your heart wasn’t put there to stay – Love isn’t love ’til you give it away!”

Happy Give-thanksing to you!

Lord, give me the confidence to live with faith in your abundant grace and love. Amen.

Be bold!

“And now, Lord, look at their threats, and grant to your servants to speak your word with all boldness . . . .” Acts 4:29

What would you attempt to do if you knew you could not fail?” This is the question that greets me every day on a little sign in my kitchen. Some days I hardly read it, some days it stops me in my tracks and I wonder, “What would I like to do with my life?” One recent morning I allowed myself to admit that I’d really like to pursue inspirational writing – really pursue it, not dabble in it once every few months – and I was overwhelmed by a sense of God’s presence, a feeling of awe and gratitude. God’s spirit seemed to be saying “Yes! You can do this. You must do this.” Later that day I received an invitation to write a series of devotionals for a Presbyterian publication. When I described to the person who had sent the invitation what I had experienced that morning we both were amazed at the timing of God’s grace.

I invite you to contemplate, prayerfully, your response to that question. Let God work in your heart to reveal hopes and dreams you haven’t yet discovered, or been willing to admit. Be bold, shutting down the voices of doubt that immediately will crowd out any timid response. It may take some practice, so go ahead and make your own sign and put it in a place where you will see it every day. And let me know what happens!

Lord, thank you for your awesome, amazing grace. Amen.

Finding what I’m looking for, or not

I was sifting through the kitchen drawers, looking for the lobster crackers. You know, the shiny silver colored kind you use to crack open the hard shells of the lobster claws (or mixed nuts, if you prefer.) I looked in one drawer then another with no luck. I checked and rechecked. I knew they were there somewhere, as we had used them before. Shiny, silver, . . . nothing. So I asked my friend, in whose house we were cooking the lobsters, to look for them. He dug around in the drawers and found them. One was black and one was maroon, the plastic kind.

As I was digging it had occurred to me that I wasn’t finding them because I was looking for what I thought I would find. I wasn’t really seeing what was in the drawers, just what wasn’t. But I hadn’t stopped long enough to reframe my view. I kept on looking for what I thought I should find!

How often do we do that? How often do we see what we are looking for, instead of what’s really in front of us? When I am looking for it, I can see trouble, bad news, bad luck, or “evidence” confirming my side of the story.  My pre-conceived ideas can lead me see what I want to see, or to overlook something else. And I can be so sure of what I think I know that I don’t stop to consider that my assumptions may not be accurate.

I need to be careful to set my viewing filter to a setting that is less focused on what I think I’ll find, and more on what is there. I need to be more willing to see what’s possible, instead of what I’ve already decided is there.

Lord, open my eyes to see so that I can see all the good that you have set before me. Thank you for your gracious abundance and forgiveness.