Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Great is Thy Faithfulness

Here at my house we wage the two most common battles every family faces:  We both weigh more than we should and we always manage to spend more money than we should.  One day I proposed a solution that would kill two birds with one stone:  We could just stop buying food.  It made perfect sense to me. Beaven thought the idea needed a little more work. 

And, of course, when the whole family gathers to celebrate any holiday, food is at the top of the list for ways to celebrate.  Some families watch sports on TV.  Some families play sports. We eat. This weekend we face Memorial Day.

No offense to anybody, but I’m not really sure what this holiday commemorates.  Who are we memorializing?  The glorious dead who gave their lives to save our country?  You can probably tell no one in my family has given their life for our country.  I would be a whole lot more respectful.

My Daddy came out of WWII with a high rank and a tidy pension. The closest he ever came to combat was as an administrator of hospital ships. Even so, he was away at war for the first four years of my sister’s life.  I’m sure my mother and sister were beyond joy to have him home alive. I wouldn’t know.  I’m a baby boomer and we seldom care about things that happened before our much-celebrated and self-centered mass arrival into the world. 

My ancestors include one guy who “resigned” from the Civil War and good old Jeb Stuart who I understand was notoriously late to the Gettsyburg battle.  I have no family history of men giving their lives for my country.

In our family, holidays are only known for their cuisine:  Turkey for Thanksgiving, ham for Christmas, hot dogs for July 4th…. yada, yada, yada.  About the only memorable Memorial Day we’ve ever had was the arrival of Sarah Elizabeth Carrell on May 31, 1999.  I had a brisket in the smoker when Sarah’s parents called us from the hospital advising us it was time to come.  I phoned a neighbor to watch the brisket.  By the time we got home, the brisket was finished.  I don’t know what the neighbors did but that brisket was the best meat I’ve ever eaten. Maybe because it was the happiest day of my life.

So, brisket is the obvious choice to celebrate Memorial Day.  But the girls have already issued orders for their favorite hot dogs from Rudolph’s meat market in Dallas.  Maybe we’ll have both. 

But at least, the meat won’t have sugar.

I’ve decided to see if I can eliminate sugar from our diet.  Last week Caressa Murray posted on facebook about how great she feels now that she’s eliminated sugar.  And this chick is a minister.  You just gotta trust what she says. 

And, in my project of not buying food, I know that it will be the sugar that will trip us up.  I can tell the problem is deep because just the mere mention of a sugarless life almost gives me hives. And I know how I will rationalize it:  sugar is cheap.  We won’t save ourselves any money to speak of by eliminating sugar. 

I should tackle, instead, the processed stuff--the food I pay money for corporations to process God’s bounty into something far beyond what God originally intended us to have.  For a long time I have had a little principle:  Whenever I have a choice, I should eliminate the middle man, the processor.  The closer I can get to the hand of God, the healthier my food will be.  I once had the chance to pick an apple from an orchard and eat it right there and then. That was probably the high point of my own culinary  spirituality. And, yes, eating can be a spiritual act.  Think about communion.

I am always looking for ways to simplify my life, especially when it saves us money. So, we’ve been talking about disconnecting from cable.  Or maybe just turning the TV off completely.  We did that last night.  I read a book. I didn’t die from lack of multi-tasking. I could get used to not having TV.

Clay Brantley spent several sermons dropping a term into our laps:  “The Attitude of Abundance versus the Attitude of Scarcity.”

You could explain it as looking at how much God has given us—a bounty to be shared with all of God’s people instead of worrying that we don’t have enough to go around. Focusing on how much we have instead of what we don’t have. How much more do we think we need to be safe or to be loved? 

Then Mike Cole posted this on facebook just a few minutes ago:

He quotes what Richard Rohr says about St Francis:  "In his "Testament," he says Franciscanism is nothing other than "the marrow of the Gospel." He said our life is simply to live the Gospel, to get to the core of what Jesus taught. Honestly, the core of the Gospel is so simple that it's hard to live. It's so clear that the mind almost insists on making it complicated, doctrinal, and abstract--so we can argue about it. Even Francis had to add some niceties to his Rule to make it more acceptable to the Roman system before it could be approved in 1223. 

This is a concept I’ve had bumping around in my brain for quite some time now, our propensity to make things complicated then argue about it.  I call this “sequins.” 

The God who created everything from the smallest hummingbird to the entire universe is far greater than our ability to comprehend.  It is too much for us to take in.  We are so struck by awe that we get confused into thinking nothing we have is good enough, that we ourselves are so lacking that God could never be happy with us as things stand.  This is the “attitude of scarcity.”  We don’t think we are enough.  We don’t think we have enough. 

So we start sewing sequins onto our lives and our religion.  We built huge cathedrals with glorious pipe organs and massive stained glass windows.  We write wordy affirmations of faith, and spent a good bit of time arguing with one another to make sure we have all the right words to express our love. We delve into the bible and take each word to heart; sometimes at the risk of missing the overall picture.  If I were to condense the entire gospel into one sentence it would be John 3:16.  No more.  No less.

I personally think we have enough.  The world is a lot simpler than we think it is. 

My next move, and a hard one, too, is to live this belief, to step out in faith, knowing I will be OK.  I don’t need TV.  I don’t need sugar. 

The only thing I really need is God and I have that already.  When I live my life in simplicity and abundance then Thanks-giving is all I have left.
 One morning I stepped out onto my porch and saw this.  
 
 Great is Thy faithfulness, Great is Thy faithfulness
Morning by morning new mercies I see
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided
Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me.

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