I typically prefer to write about things that I feel like God has taught me. As in, I went through this really hard struggle, and here is what I think I’ve learned on the other side of it kind of writing.
That’s not to say I don’t ever wrestle with things I’ve written about again in new seasons of life. It’s certainly not to say I think I have any of the things I’ve ever written about figured out definitively. There’s just a comfort level to writing about something after the current season of wrestling is over, and it feels like there’s a nugget of truth to take away from the struggle.
Lately, however, God has been working with me on something that I’m not anywhere close to being done learning, and yet the desire to write about it is constantly gnawing at me.
Perhaps part of what I’m learning is meant to be fleshed out in the process of releasing some of my need to be confident in myself before ever presenting myself to others. A further “dying to self” that I pray God never stops teaching me to do.
Like many people in various life stages, I’ve struggled since going back to work full time with the fact that there just isn’t enough (fill in the blank) to meet the needs I feel responsible to meet.
Time…Energy…Emotional bandwidth…Mental capacity
So many things I want to do, things I feel called to do, but just don’t feel like I can do well because of the lack of (fill in the blank).
And the lingering perfectionist in me doesn’t want to do any of it at all if I can’t do it well.
Twice, however, in the past month I’ve heard a phrase that has grabbed my attention. It’s a phrase I’ve only ever heard used in terms of economics, but both of these times it was being used to describe this frustrating feeling of lack I’ve been wrestling with.
The myth of scarcity
So often we hear and use that word to describe material or financial lack. But it can so perfectly describe these intangibles in our lives as well!
Never enough time to do all of the things…never enough energy to do all of the things well…never enough emotional bandwidth to pour our heart into all of the things…never enough mental capacity to process or remember all of the things.
When there is a sense of scarcity as it relates to material items or finances, the human tendency is to hoard.
We see this in our culture today, but perhaps there is no clearer picture of it in Scripture than the Israelites hoarding the manna being sent down from heaven.
And when the dew had gone up, there was on the face of the wilderness a fine, flake-like thing, fine as frost on the ground. When the people of Israel saw it, they said to one another, “What is it?” For they did not know what it was. And Moses said to them, “It is the bread that the LORD has given you to eat. This is what the LORD has commanded: ‘Gather of it, each one of you, as much as he can eat. You shall each take an omer, according to the number of the persons that each of you has in his tent.’” And the people of Israel did so. They gathered, some more, some less. But when they measured it with an omer, whoever gathered much had nothing left over, and whoever gathered little had no lack. Each of them gathered as much as he could eat. And Moses said to them, “Let no one leave any of it over till the morning.” But they did not listen to Moses. Some left part of it till the morning, and it bred worms and stank. Exodus 16:14-20
Why did they leave part of it until the morning? Because they doubted that the Lord would provide more the next day. They doubted there would be enough.
The myth of scarcity
God had promised to meet their needs. He had promised, if they were obedient with what He gave them, there would be plenty.
So what about when that feeling of scarcity has nothing to do with material or financial possessions? What about when it’s intangible?
Well, I don’t know what the typical human response is to that, but my typical response is still to hoard.
I become selfish with my time because I feel like there’s not enough of it to go around. I become stingy with my emotions and affections because I feel like they will be drained (and at times they feel like they have been drained). I look at the ground at the end of the day, and there’s nothing left, and I wonder what I will “eat” tomorrow.
And I worry.
But God has been showing me over and over again through Scripture the fact that I am treating my energy, time, and emotions the same way the Israelites treated the manna.
I think somehow that I should be able to manage my time and energy and emotions well enough to be great in all of the roles He has given me.
Call it multi-tasking, call it ball juggling, call it whatever you want to…but at the end of the day, it is rooted in self and pride and fear.
“Look at all of the things I’ve got to do and do well!”
“If I let this ball drop then they will all come crashing down.”
Yes, I am so important and all of the things are ultimately dependent upon me.
How exhausting! No wonder there is never enough.
The myth of scarcity
I’m studying in the book of John right now, and while there are so many incredible “take-aways” in that book, God is using it in this season of my life to gently remind me that it will be HE that provides my every need, whether tangible or intangible.
When the family ran out of wine at the wedding, it was He that turned the water to not only wine, but the BEST wine.
When the woman had come to the well for water, it was He that offered her LIVING water.
When the crowds gathered and were hungry, it was He that broke the 5 loaves and fed 5,000, with 12 basketfuls leftover.
And when they reconvened, it was He that offered not only bread, but the Bread of LIFE.
The reality is, I don’t have enough time or energy or emotional bandwidth or mental capacity to do all of the things. But HE does.
He promised the Israelites enough manna for each day. But he’s made promises to me as well.
And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work. 2 Corinthians 9:8
And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:19
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” 2 Corinthians 12:9
In these passages and so many others, God has made it clear that I will be incapable of doing anything worthwhile in my own strength. But when I yield and surrender to Christ, and allow the Holy Spirit to live and act and move in and through me, He not only provides sufficiently, He IS my sufficiency. He, Himself.
In the very places where I feel I am so lacking, God is able to ‘make all grace abound’!
I believe Lord, help my unbelief!