As for me, I said in my prosperity, “I shall never be moved.”Psalm 30:6 (ESV)
A few years ago I met a woman named Debra at my local food pantry where I help serve breakfast most Saturday mornings. I have to admit that we did not get along at first. I don’t know what it was, but she was just the type of person that rubs you the wrong way. She would skip other people in line to get what she wanted, When we handed out deserts, she always took more than what she needed and usually came for seconds before most others even got through the first time. She would get into screaming matches with other clients in the pantry and would lie to us about the number of people staying with her to get more food. She would always ask me for items and if I refused her request, she would go find someone else that would say “yes”. She seemed the type of person that always tried to take advantage of the situation and never seemed grateful for what we could provide her. It got to the point where I would actively go find something to do whenever she would be coming my way.
In March, we had to shut everything down when COVID 19 came on the scene. We started doing things differently. Food and hot meals were brought to clients outside the building. Hot meals were delivered around the neighborhood by a van. Clients could come into the building on Fridays for a clothing pantry as long as they wore a mask and maintained social distancing. Those days we were open, we always saw Debra but something had changed in her. She still asked for extra food sometimes but that was for a couple of street people who were ashamed to get it for themselves. She volunteered on both pantry and non-pantry days, helping to unload deliveries or sort clothing. No job seemed beneath her. She acted as a guide in our efforts to locate the people who are homeless in Milwaukee. Most importantly, I began to enjoy seeing her instead of cringing and running away.
About three weeks ago, she came up to us as my wife and I pulled up to the parking lot at the pantry. She was beaming from ear to ear. After she greeted us, she pulled up a picture on her cell phone and proudly announced that she had been baptized recently. That was the last time I saw her.
On that day, I was packing up the bags of food that would be given out the next day and she was helping to sort clothes. She came into the pantry and told me how she knew four homeless people who were in serious need and Michael, the Executive Director of Ebenezer Stone Ministries said it was okay if I could put together some items for her to take to them. After confirming with Michael, I helped prepare the items,
When I showed Debra the packages I had made, she lost her smile. She was worried about how she was going to get this home. I told her that I was almost done and then I could give her a ride in the van home. Her face fell but she reluctantly agreed.
We loaded up the van and she directed me up the alleyway as she was only around the corner. We pulled up to the corner house and I began to carry one of the packages to the door. Debra stopped me and informed me that they should be put in the garage, her face hanging low again.
She opened the large garage door and my mind instantly began assembly the facts as I began to process what I was seeing. The first thing that caught my eye was a rack of clothes like you would see in a department store. Next to that was a dresser that only had three of the four drawers in it, the last busted on the floor and half-filled with clothes as well. To the left was an old tool bench that had a table lamp and a microwave. On the floor in front of me was a full-size mattress on the concrete slab with a ripped up sleeping bag thrown over it. There was a milk crate with some old paperbacks and magazines. The thing that struck me the most was the open Bible in the middle of the mattress.
Debra, sensing I needed an explanation, told me that this was her sister’s garage. She used to live in the house until her schizophrenia made it too challenging for her sister to put up with. She had been sleeping in the garage over a year, winter and summer. She hung her head again.
I told her I understood what was going on with her and we prayed together. That was the last day I saw her. Shortly after that, she told Michael that the city found out she was living in a garage and was forced to move. At first, she informed him she was headed down to Chicago but she ended up moving a couple of miles west of the pantry. Another pantry is now closer to her and we haven’t seen her since.
One of the last things she told me was when she was explaining how she ended up in a garage. “If I don’t have it,” she said with a smile on her face. “I don’t need it!” I agreed and shared with her .
I have what I need and need what I have!Palzewism #6
As for me, I said in my prosperity, “I shall never be moved.” Psalm 30:6
Prosperity is one of those words that are very subjective, depending on who you are talking with at the time. The secular (world) definition simply success in material terms; or, more commonly, be financially successful. You are prosperous only if you have the money to indulge your every whim. Those who can’t afford to participate in an activity are simply left behind. Prosperity in this society is most likely defined between the “haves” and the have nots”
Of course, the Bible, the word of God, offers a different interpretation. Being prosperous not only means having wealth, but health, happiness, long life, and success. God promises these to us in His Word. When we remember to apply His scriptural lessons to our lives, we open up the door to those promises. “This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success” (Joshua 1:8).
However; this does not mean that once you are baptized and start following Jesus Christ, riches and blessings will begin to overwhelm you. There are many Christians today that mistakenly believe that if you are not rich, you are not a true Christian. This is a common fallacy that entered into our belief system sometime around the middle ages. The Black Plaque was running havoc throughout Europe and many in the church were struggling with disease, famine, and extreme poverty. At that time, the church, instead of helping out in their time of need, stressed that their living conditions were caused bt their sinful lives. In addition to burdening the people with a strict moral code, the church insisted that tithing (10% of a personal income) was a minimal requirement. In essence, the church demanded payment to receive a blessing from God!
God’s blessings are much more than a monthly income bump. Every positive thing in our lives is a direct blessing from our creator.
- I may want a bigger house but I make the best of what I got. I am prosperous because I have what I need!
- I envy those who drive a new car every year but I am blessed because I just paid off my car last month after a four-year loan. I am prosperous because I have what I need!
- I have been afflicted with Cerebral Palsy, Diabetes, and now, arthritis but I can still get out of bed every morning and perform those tasks that God has called me to do. I am prosperous because I have what I need!
As for me, I said in my prosperity, “I shall never be moved.” Psalm 30:6
Sometimes, you can learn more from a verse if you read it in a different translation. The words “I shall never be moved”. comes from the ESV (English Standard Version). The NIV (New International Version) states “I will never be shaken” and the NLT (New Living Translation) boldly proclaims “Nothing can stop me!)
Many other verses in the Bible also reflect this attitude. Verses like:
What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? Romans 8:31
For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.Romans 8:38-39
God is on your side! Many people believe that God is like the squad car on the freeway. They slow up when they see him but once out of sight, they lean back into their old and unsafe driving habits. They view God as some universal policeman who only shows up to yell “GOTCHA!” when we sin.
But, if you delve into scripture, you get a clearer picture of how God sees you. In essence, God is your number one fan. If God has a wallet or a refrigerator, you can be sure your picture is there! He is always rooting for you to succeed and pleads with you to turn to him when you fail! He knows when you will fail and still allows you proceed your way because that is the only way you are going to learn! As a teacher, I know the value of having a student make a mistake. A mistake is sometimes the best way to correct a behavior! Failure is one of life’s best teachers.
One of my favorite quotes comes from Thomas Edison. A reporter was doing a story on his quest to invent the light bulb and commented that Edison should be discouraged from his task after failing 10,000 times. Edison responded “I have not failed 10,000 times. I have not failed once. I have succeeded in proving that those 10,000 ways will not work. When I have eliminated the ways that will not work, I will find the way that will work.”
Every experience, both positive, negative, or neutral is a learning experience! We become prosperous when we start stringing together more positive than negative experiences.
The Cross Room
When things are going great, you never think twice about it. You think you are bulletproof. We mistakenly believe that the prosperity or pain that we have today will continue to exist in the same fashion always. When things are great, we make plans thinking that our lives will always be this way. We don’t put away for rainy days, because those will not happen to us anymore. We have made it and now nothing can happen to change that.
When things are bad, many see this as an ongoing struggle that will never let up. Some turn to drugs, alcohol, or even suicide to avoid any real problems. Some ignore the elephants in the room and insist everything is fine. Some demand that you accept their version of reality to make themselves feel better about their choices.
Bottom Line, prosperity is an individual thing. One size does not fit all. God knows this and has placed this idea into his top ten list on how to live the best life you can. He commands that we stop comparing our circumstances to those around us. He uses the specific word of “Coveting” which the Bible defines as lust or strong desire. Coveting is prohibited by God because it changes our focus from His blessings to our wants. We try to argue with God, telling him that we could do a better job following him if only he would grant us this one request.
Consider the story of the Cross Room
The Cross Room
Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. – Matthew 16:24
One day a man met Jesus. He said to him, “Lord, I know you said that we all need to take up our cross and follow you.”
“Yes,” Jesus replied, knowing where this was going.
“Is it possible, I mean, if it’s not too much bother, I was wondering…”
“Ask and you shall receive” Jesus stated.
“Well, I think you made a mistake.”
“Really. A Mistake! How wonderful!!,” Jesus beamed! “How did I make this blunder?”
“Well,” the man said sheepishly, “I think I got the wrong cross”
“Why do you think that?” Jesus asked.
“You see, this one I have now seems way too big for me to handle myself. It is cumbersome and I don’t think I can carry it any further.” The man looked at the Savior with fear that he was about to be condemned, but Jesus just smiled.
“Okay,” he said, “let’s go to the cross room and you can find something better.”
Jesus took the man into a room filled to the brim with all kinds of crosses. The man looked them all over.
Some were made of wood and over 10 feet tall.
Some were made of metal with huge spikes sticking out all over.
Some were made from solid rock.
The man looked them all over very carefully until he spotted a little cross in the corner. It looked like two sticks held together with twine. He picked it up and realized it weighed very little. He put it on his shoulder and the cross seemed to hold on by itself, freeing up the man’s hand.
The man, so excited about this marvelous find, showed his prize to Jesus.
“May I have this one?” The man cried with joy. “This one is so doable. With this one, I could be the best disciple you ever had!”
Jesus started to laugh at the man, causing the man’s joy to turn to disappointment. The man started to put the cross back where he found it when Jesus took the cross up and gave it to the man.
“I can have this one?” The man asked
“Yes, this cross is now yours,” Jesus answered, still chuckling.
“Then why are you laughing?” the man demanded!
“Because,” Jesus answered, “That is the cross you came in with!”
The man though is life was unfair and unworkable due to the conditions he had to endure daily. I can relate! Many times I feel like my burden is greater than those placed on my fellow man and wonder why I had been selected for this treatment. But then I realize that God has already given me the tools, strength, and talent to not only overcome these burdens but thrive because of them. The trials, troubles and, tribulations have all brought me closer to him and the people in my life.
So unlike the man in the cross room, I thank God every night for what he has given me and what he has kept away from me.
“If I don’t have it, I don’t need it”
- How does the worldview of prosperity differ from God’s view?
- How does failure make you a stronger person?
- Have you ever wanted to visit the Cross Room?
- How do you view God – someone who wants to catch you messing up or someone cheering you on?
- What are you coveting right now that you feel that you deserve?
Prayer – Dear Father. I thank you for all that you have given me, especially the lessons I have learned from my many failures. I praise you that you love me enough to accept me the way I am and enough not to leave me that way. Help me learn your will for my life every day on earth until I see your face on my final day/ In your name I pray. Amen
I thank you for reading my blog and look forward to any comments or criticism of what I have discussed.
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“You Turned My Mourning Into Dancing!”, my book, is available for purchase here.