How Much is Enough?

ChristmaspresentsJust as the Children of Israel began their long, arduous journey into the Wilderness, so we find ourselves in our own wilderness. We, like they, have left a life or hardship and are headed towards a land we believe is better—a land God is drawing us into.But how do we survive whatever wilderness we find ourselves in right now? We may feel emotionally lost; relationally poor, vocationally searching, politically off course; materially starving and spiritually challenged. It truly does not take long for us to realize our own wilderness—whether individually; in church, workplace or nationally.There's no better time that right now in Advent and preparing for Christmas to sit with these thoughts.In the midst of such a whirlwind, how do we move forward, onward, upward to a place that is at last for us NOT wilderness? The Children of Israel needed guidance and guidance was provided. We need guidance too because the surest form of any kind of wilderness is to realize that you really are lost, alone and tired.God’s provision for them is the same for us today. God provided manna and quail and God provided this food for body and soul every single day—except for one day. The people were told, every day, there will be “enough.”The word “enough” is what tripped them up and it is the same word that trips us up. What is enough? Should we hoard so that we can live in a false security—an illusion of provision by stockpiling? [tweetthis]The seduction of safety---the illusions of what really is enough is what keeps people getting back on the hamster wheel. It is what keeps people in fifth gear. It is what really is wilderness.[/tweetthis]The fear of not having enough makes us not only hoard but it motivates us to foster an erroneous view of what security really looks like and feels like. We hoard more than money these days. We hoard adventure, pleasure, spiritual experiences, and even relationships. We will hoard anything and anyone that gives us the sense of security that only God can give.The Children of Israel were told three things:

  1. You’ll be given what you need for each day.
  2. Don’t hoard the manna.
  3. You must not gather—work—or strive to do anything on the Sabbath.

What if our guidance right now--no matter what our wilderness might be is the same guidance as the Children of Israel:

  • Trust in God's provision every single day.
  • Don't hoard gifts, parties, experiences and people. Don't hoard food either!
  • Rest this Advent and Christmas rather than being devoured by the wilderness of Christmas

 These three paradigms shape who we can navigate any wilderness and any time in life. Believing that God is indeed good and will not withhold from us, the children of today is core. We trust God at his word. And this sense of trust allows us to loosen our grip and our energy to do more; work harder and whip the wind up around us to give the appearance that we are the ones making all this happen.We are provided for in life by a God who loves us. This second realization allows us to let life be and take off the urgency that we often feel that we are the ones who have to produce and that life is up to us. This is really a form of atheism. It is at best a form of deism that says, “There may be a God up there somewhere. I don’t know. So I’ll live my life as if there really isn’t a God—and live like everything is up to me.The third foundation truth given to the Children of Israel in their own wilderness, is what I believe to be the core truth,so needed today. We, like they need rest. We need a time of ceasing every six days to be--- and not to do. We are not to gather. We are not to hoard. We are not to produce. We are simply to rest.At the core of Sabbath is the submission to a greater design to life that we see today with all of the striving, hurry and scurry. We rest. We live in the realization that we have enough—enough for THIS day and that God has indeed provided what we have. We celebrate that life is not up to us—that God has given us a gift of a sustainable rhythm where we can work but we also can recover.In this rhythm, we work and move through wilderness….and we celebrate the light of God’s blessings. We enjoy the fruit of our work---we see our own weekly harvest. We feast in a way that requires no work—no striving.Many years later, a person gave even more insight about the temptation to work obsessively and to hoard all we make. It is written, “Better one handful with tranquility than two handfuls with toil and chasing after the wind” (Ecc. 4:6).The real question here is what is enough and what is really “Better”.This is the question for Sabbath. This is the question over coffee with a friend or over dinner with your family. This is the question of our soul and it has been asked for a very long time and answered in many, many different ways.How will you answer these questions?Would time---giving an "experience" be a BETTER gift to someone that more stuff?What does the person you want to gift at Christmas really need as oppose to really want?How could you give a Sabbath to someone you love? What might that look like?

I'm Going To Look for Jesus... in the wilderness

I've been outside each morning for the past five mornings up at our retreat. This image shows what I've been able to sit in. The Aspens are turning gold. The sun has been shining bright. The air has been warm. One could not ask for a better fall here in Colorado.Yet, like the leaves, I feel something inside of me is changing. Something feels like it is dying. As I reflect back on this past year, it's been a hard press. I have written a book (Soul Custody); been focused on the entire transformation of the barn to morph into becoming a 14 year long vision of having an "Inn" for people to come who are worn out, tired and burned out on religion. I've led several dozen retreats and met with scores of people. It's time for me to take a break. Take a break to look for Jesus. Go into the wilderness so that I might find him.But these golden Aspens reveal a deeper secret I have within me. As much as I have tried to advocate for; be passionate about and help others to experience--I have to admit, I'm wrestling inside about some things that are just plain, making me tired.The scared bark of our beloved Aspens show the wounds where elk, deer and other critters have come to rub themselves against this precious bark. The bark, like my soul has grown weary with a few wounds to prove it.I am going on a respite. It's much deserved but as this day of departure looms for me to pack my bags and go into the wilderness for a three week journey, I feel everything inside of me saying: "Don't go. You have too much to do. It's  not the right time."  And I listen for a while to those old voices which I know all too well and I know that they are speaking to me lies. Lies to make me sign up again; stay for another card in the game and go for one more ride around the ring.  When I feel and almost everyone and everything looks tired also.I read the lyrics to an old Black gospel song which simply says, "If you want to find Jesus, you gotta go into the wilderness." I've sat with that song now for about a month since discovering it. I've realized how true the song really is when friends fail you; church seems like nothing but a programming machine and the idea of 'community' has never seemed farther away. I need to go into the wilderness. It's time.For three weeks, Gwen and I will be in Alaska. I've never been--but always wanted to go. I am going into the wilderness. I'm not going on a cruise. I'm not going with a tour. It's just me and my companion now of 30 years. Together, we are going to fly in; rent a car and get as lost as we can get for three weeks.At the end of these three weeks, I'll be with 20 pastors and spouses up in the tundra of a place so remote that the only access is to be flown in on a plane. There's no electricity. There are few cars. And I just heard that the daily diet of most of the folks I'll be working with is whale blubber. I've never eaten whale blubber. It doesn't sound too good right now. They are living in the wilderness and I wonder here if they might know something I need to know...about Jesus and the wilderness. I'll be anxious to find out.I'm taking a few books. A pair of binoculars. Some rain gear and we're off. I'm going into the wilderness. I'm going into beauty--about the last sacred thing on earth that can revive a person's soul I think. I'm going into the wilderness to look for Jesus.SWS