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I blame Jen Hatmaker.
Well, actually – if truth be told – it’s more the fault of my friend Clare. She made the mistake of buying me ‘7: an experimental mutiny against excess‘. Here is the text I sent her upon receiving the book and scanning the back cover:
Book just arrived – looks excellent! Can’t wait to read it. Never seen it before but it looks just the sort of thing I need to be reading right now.
Ha. This text stinks of innocence – the sort of naivety of someone who doesn’t realise she’s about to get whacked round the face several times with her own excessive lifestyle. Here’s what I texted Clare once I’d read a few chapters:
Just wanted to let you know that Seven is messing me up big time. That is all.
This is not a book review, let’s be clear. But do read ‘7’ – it’ll change your life. There. Now that’s out of the way I can get on with the point of this post.
Which is generosity. Hatmaker and Clare are partly to blame. So is a sermon Desert Dad preached last week on Money and Generosity (10/03/13 – Slowing down in Lent 4: Mastering Money). There’s nothing that challenges you more than preparing a sermon (so I’m told) – and, as Desert Dad and I are kind of in the habit of sharing our money, that was to have an impact on me too. Here’s how last week went for me:
Sunday – Desert Dad preaches. (I miss sermon due to creche blah-di-blah, but he has filled me in.) Desert Dad feels God prompting him in a particular way. He tells me. I’m not convinced.
Monday – I pray. I become convinced of God’s prompting to DD. I also feel God giving me an additional prompting. DD isn’t convinced.
Tuesday – DD prays. He becomes convinced of God’s prompting to me. We wonder whether God is also prompting us about other ways of using our money.
Wednesday – I see the following headline and immediately buy the paper which bears it: “Half of UK children to live below breadline by 2015”. I am not into the news. I’d love to be – but I’m just not. I get my news mainly through Facebook – and as I’m fasting Facebook for Lent, I’m pretty news-less at the moment. So buying a paper is a big thing. God is tugging at my heart strings regarding ‘the poor’.
Thursday – I read this incredibly challenging commentary on Ruth 2. Read it, folks. Oh, and I also read Leviticus – as you do – and am challenged by the idea of a Sabbath year. For six years the Israelites would work the land, sowing and reaping what they needed. In the seventh ‘Sabbath’ year, they weren’t to sow anything, but simply to live off their hard work of the previous six years, trusting that God would provide their needs. This gives me an idea for ‘Sabbath week’, which I’ll write about soon.
Friday – God realises we need a break. Nothing challenging happens on this day.
Saturday – hooray: God believes in weekends. Have a lovely day with friends we haven’t seen for an age. We eat, drink, play, dig and generally have another unchallenging day.
Sunday – OK back to challenging. God pulls at DD’s heart strings again…and so it goes on.
All of this is underpinned by the massively unsettling tones of ‘7’. (Did I mention you should get your hands on a copy of this book as soon as?)
Also – strangely enough – Mister’s bedtime book choice for the week was The Smartest Giant in Town. Again, another great read – but for different reasons. For those of you unfamiliar with this Julia Donaldson/Axel Scheffler classic, the story is of a scruffy giant who, upon discovering a smart new clothes shop, invests in a smart new outfit. But as he wanders along, he meets various people (OK, animals – I won’t lie) who need his clothes more than he does. He gives his tie to become a scarf for a giraffe with a cold neck. (“It didn’t match my socks anyway.”) His shirt becomes the sail on a boat steered by a goat, while the giant comments, “It kept coming untucked anyway”. He gives his shoe to a family of mice who’ve lost their home, and says “It was giving me blisters anyway”.
As I read and re-read this story to the kids, I was aware of the uncomfortable parallels in my own life. Am I willing to give not just the things I don’t need anymore, but the newest, the best, the smartest – the things I’ve just bought – to those who need them more desperately? I’m starting to feel that much of what I own is ‘giving me blisters’ – possessions cause stress, clutter, dust, worry. I long to live a simple life where the focus is God and my time is spent building relationships which are rich in Kingdom treasure.
There is more – so much more – to write on this, but for now excuse me while I try to put my mind back together again.
Anyone else feeling challenged on issues of money, generosity or simple living right now?