Golden Shackles

What are you risking for your faith?

Francis Chan, Crazy Love

That question has been tugging at my conscience since recently reading Crazy Love. In parallel I’m experiencing a dawning awareness that my husband and I are on the cusp of a new season of life, just two years now from an empty nest.

Recently I published this photo and caption to my personal Facebook page:

“Come grow old with me. The best is yet to be.”
–Robert Browning

As I hit “post,” I wondered if I believed the quote or just hoped for it to be true. How could whatever’s next surpass the joy of building and raising our kids? How could growing old be better than being young?

As those ideas knocked around in the background, Francis Chan came barging in with that question. And it got me thinking.

While I still have more questions than answers at this point, I thought I’d invite you along on the journey and bare my sinful soul a bit in the process.

Over the past 25 years our mission field clearly has been in our home. To the extent that we serve the Lord well in raising our four kids we will equip the next generation with believers who are firm in the faith and empowered to live for Christ.

The act of raising children also gave God time to refine our hearts, showing us in the easiest way possible what it looks like to die to self, to put another’s needs and interests ahead of your own…over and over again. Parenting also showed us how to love like Jesus as we lived into the analogy of the good Father to come to a deeper, richer understanding of who God is.

While the work of parenting is never truly over, the demands on our time and resources are diminishing rapidly. Now is the time to dream and goal set for what’s next, knowing each day is a gift and they seem to be moving by in more rapid succession.

From this season to the next only one idea shows hope to deliver more joy, peace, purpose and satisfaction than the one we’re in right now. And that is to turn our eyes and hearts from the mission field inside our home to the one outside it. I am beginning to pray that God will direct our steps and challenge us to risk and suffer and live for him to an entirely new level than we’ve experienced thusfar.

And it is here that I see it. That big ugly stumbling block.

As truly as I want to live for the Lord–all day every day–I also want to return to the safety and comfort of my home when the day is done. I desire to give until it hurts, but not until it cuts into muscle.

If I believe my own words, that everything I have is a gift from the Lord, do I treat it that way–all of it?

Is there a balance between living sacrificially and being a financially responsible and stable person? Or is that a cop out that comes from not fully trusting God to provide for our needs?

Is my heart corrupted by greed like the “rich fool” Jesus warned about?

 “The ground of a certain rich man yielded an abundant harvest. He thought to himself, ‘What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops. Then he said, “This is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store my surplus grain. And I’ll say to myself, ‘You have plenty of grain laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.'”

But God said to him, “You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?”

[Jesus concluded,] “This is how it will be with whoever stores up things for themselves but is not rich toward God.”

Luke 12: 13-21

I recall my friend who sold everything and moved his family to a Muslim country as his response to God’s command that we love our neighbors. He spoke openly and honestly about how hard it was to sell their stuff, especially the kids’ stuff; but how as they did so, it became freeing to lean more fully on the Lord.

I think my need for creature comforts gets in the way of living the abundant life to which God has called me. But then, I argue to myself, I only have the luxury of that idyllic notion because of my privilege as a middle-class American. As the debate continues I hear Jesus’ words echoing in my ears:

Looking at [her], Jesus felt a love for [her] and said, “One thing you lack: go and sell all you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.”  But at these words [she] was saddened, and went away grieving, for [she] had many things.

Matthew 10: 21-22

He knows I’m not there yet. But I’m open to being a work in progress here. My prayer today is that God will begin a work in my heart (and yours if this resonates) to help us become better stewards of the resources entrusted to us, to help us begin to relax our grip on the things of this world so that we may more fully embrace the eternal abundance of God’s kingdom.

Not-So-Fun Facts

  • Self-storage is a $38 billion business in the United States
  • 1.7 billion square feet of storage space exists, enough to give 17 million people a 1000 square foot dwelling.
  • This despite the fact that US homes are 1,000 square feet larger than in 1973
  • And the average occupancy per household has declined to 2.53 people from 3.01 during the same period

2 thoughts on “Golden Shackles

  1. Very thought provoking post! I like what you said about raising your four children as part of your ministry for Jesus. I have four children myself (but they’re all still very young) and it’s always good to read from others who have gone before. One thought I had was: not everyone will be going on mission trips away from home and some of us will have to support those that have financially, so maybe it’s not all bad or greed to stay at home if we still continue to sow (and give financially) into the lives of others who are leaving their home and family to do good in this world? I guess it all depends on what Jesus is asking you to do, and then have peace about it. Praying you would soon find out what God has for both of you in your next season!

    Liked by 1 person

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