These days I'm learning the definition of Sufficiency. The lesson of Enough.
"This is the word of the God of Israel: 'The jar of flour will not run out and the bottle of oil will not become empty...' " 1 Kings 17:14a MSG
There is a neat story behind that verse - a three year drought resulted in a famine and an old woman and her son were on the verge of death. The prophet Elijah showed up (God told him to) and asked for a drink and something to eat. I can just feel the exasperation, the despair in this woman's heart when she responds to him, "Are you kidding? I have just enough wood, flour and oil to make a final meal for me and my son. When we're done with that, it's all gone, and we're going to die of starvation. And you want dinner?!" (1 Kings 17:12, my version)
But he assures her that her respect for his position will be honored and she makes him dinner. And for the remainder of the drought, this woman, her son, and Elijah had food to eat.
Pretty neat, huh? Talk about a leap of faith. (You can read an inspiring sermon on this story on the Sermon Notebook website.)
What I noticed about this story is that God didn't send a banquet. He didn't cause a garden to sprout in her backyard. He sent Enough.
I believe that one of the greatest counterfeits of the Christian faith is the lie of More: that Enough isn't sufficient. We are tempted by the lie that while meeting our needs is okay, having More is the true marker of a mature, successful Christian. A successful life.
And as if that wasn't difficult to maneuver, there's this twist:
Each person's Enough is different. So we see one person that seems to have More, and we feel discontent; then we see another's gift of Enough as failure.
My lesson? That God has promised that I will always have enough. That my needs will always be met. That what He provides will be sufficient for my needs.
"You can be sure that God will take care of everything you need, his generosity exceeding even yours in the glory that pours from Jesus." Phillipians 4:19 MSG
"By his divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life." 1 Peter 1:3a NLT
When I look around me and want the things that God has decided are not necessary for me, I run the risk of cultivating an ungrateful, dis-contented heart. I begin to believe the lie that 'more' is the definition of success, that 'more' will bring me joy.
On the flip side, when I choose to be content with the Enough that I have from God's hand, I am on my way to spiritual maturity:
"These are the promises that enable you to share his divine nature and escape the world’s corruption caused by human desires." 1 Peter 1:4b
And when I begin to do that, I begin to see clearly that true success, true joy, are the moments when I am focused on simply doing the task that God has given me to do; resting in the knowledge that as I am focused on fulfilling His purpose for my life, He is focused on providing just what my soul needs to become like Jesus, and just what my body needs to perform His purpose.
There may not be much left over. But there will always be Enough.
On Friday, our son Trey celebrated his third birthday. I am reminded, again, that the plans God has for me are far better than I could ever dream...
Four years ago we had experienced our second miscarriage. I was teetering precariously on an emotional abyss, and my husband was at his wits end to know how to help me.
We decided to take a break from conceiving and I found a job as a trail-guide for a horseback riding outfit. For the summer, I led rides through the gorgeous forest of northern Pennsylvania. Each day I would drive through the quiet back roads to reach the stable. Brushing the horses, leading groups through the woods was the best life-disconnect I have ever experienced.
During that time, my soul healed to the point where I could relax and allow myself to be honest about what I wanted. I was finally able to let go and accept that if we didn't have a child, my husband and I would be okay. I was able to contemplate the possibility of another miscarriage, and realize that if that happened, I would be just fine. I chose to accept that God's plan for my life was better than anything I could conjure up in my mind, and I let go of my plans.
It was following that time of contemplation and release that Tom and I were able to conceive our son. During the pregnancy, on the direction of a midwife who dealt almost solely with the Amish community (on a recommendation from my Amish friend Rebekah), I went on life rest. I did nothing strenuous and reduced my ativities to picking out a new movie on Netflix, and for the first three months of the pregnancy, I sat.
When it came time to welcome Trey into the world, God again provided in a way that far exceeded my expectations. I had wanted a home birth, but my husband just didn't feel safe about it. So I honored him and we went to a hospital.
Since no one at the hospital believed my assertions that I was actually in labor, they administered the medications I had requested and left the room. Thirty minutes later, attended by my husband, mother and a nurse, I delivered Trey with my own hands, just as I had dreamed of. The experience was empowering, inspiring and uplifting. I was given a gift that the majority of modern women rarely experience. It changed me. My confidence blossomed into an assured, peaceful serenity, my heart believing in the truth that God would provide for each situation exactly what was best for me, my family, and His plan for my life.
This is a season of grateful hearts in our home. We look back at the birth of Trey and rejoice at how our lives have been changed.
I look back and relive the gift of the Holy Spirit, the surge of power that continues to enable me to complete the tasks set before me with confidence, courage, strength, and serenity.
I encourage you, dear readers, if you are experiencing hiccups in the plan you have set for your life, to step back, re-evaluate, relinquish and rest - rest in God's power to give you a life that is far better than anything you can imagine.