I’m not gonna even try to pretend for a minute that I know what it’s like to live in the poverty that these native people experience. Even the pretense of defining poverty seems unfitting. Can I cast a vague notion in terms of financial wealth and prosperity versus what it means to be rich or poor? Does the almighty dollar even deserve to categorize a life? or paint big bold lines to separate the haves and have nots?
Sure ok, let’s talk about the rudimentary elements of what the monetary system has the ability to do. Doling out “value” on things it has no business messing with. True, it can put me in the driver's seat of an air-conditioned fancy man car with leather seats and a hi-def. sound system. Eating in five-star restaurants and coming and going as I please. Saying nothing of the ultra-rich in their personal jets and mega yachts. Even the elusive American dream, of which one rarely wakes, (instead, its the constant pursuit of more and more, dragging me around, exhausted and discontent. )
Then there’s the slavery of comparing my insides to other people’s outsides. Envy, greed, vain pursuits to prop up my image. Yep, I stand guilty of all these offenses. And then I come down here and with the same lense which I judge myself and my life, turn it and focus on these folk’s dilapidated houses and broken down cars. I dare shake my finger at the food or conditions of the roadway. What would it take to remove these pretenses that seem so baked into my view of everything? Renounce all money and wander as a pauper, sleeping in holes in the ground with only rags for clothes? Maybe become a monk and punish myself for wanting things, raising the banner of abstinence and decrying all else as evil. But even then aren’t those convictions and actions still spawned from the seed of money?
No, I think a new mindset and attitude towards wealth is necessary. I think of words like gratitude, and contentment. Once I start down that path I get closer to the truth about what it means to be rich or poor. To be content and free of the burden of want versus need. It’s an undefined line, and extremely relative based on who and where one is, and most truly on an attitude of the heart. For from the heart flows the intentions and motives. Those go on to form my thoughts, which ultimately produce my actions.
So if I’m going to attempt to expose this thing to the bone it appears my heart condition is at the spirit of the whole affair. I’m no scholar and I’m well aware that whole libraries and universities of higher thinking have tackled this debate for eons. So too have entire political empires risen and fallen on the sword of economy. So I’m only trying here to transform my own approach to this question, as it would do me well to climb this obstacle and see it reasonably resolved so that it ceases to trip me up. Especially in the short order as I begin asking others to join our ranks through their financial gifts.
I need to start from the ugly truth that I’m naturally a selfish person, and that my relationship with money is faulty. If however I substitute my own understanding and acknowledge that God knows better, I might put myself in the way for a change of heart. The Bible in proverbs says “ lean not on your own understanding but in ALL your ways acknowledge Him, and He will direct your path”. Well if that’s not a call to shut up and listen then I don’t know what is. But it’s not a blanket abandonment of my senses either, it’s rather a direction of dependency for my heart to incline and learn, and then apply it, all under God’s instructions. It’s a willingness to be willing to accept that money is neither good nor bad.
That the almighty thing which I and most others pursue with such an urgency in this life is only a temporal currency. Times of need and times of want, both are at His discretion and he’s aware of our everyone of them. So if my heart is inclined to Him, then my attitude around money, of which He as plenty to go round, can be surrendered. It’s Him and His will I’m after, not whether I can afford things or not. His ways are higher than mine. The sooner I get onto His program, the sooner I can leave behind this fearful, exhausting journey of whether I’m gonna have enough dollars at the end of the day to feel safe and secure. I’m already hidden in Him and have no need to worry.
I’m like Peter who upon seeing the waves and the storm around him, took his eyes off of Jesus who was walking on the water and immediately began to sink down again. The world of work and gathering all the stuff I can and jamming all my toys in bigger and bigger barns, that world needs me to feel insecure with what I have. It stirs fear that my life and those I love are at risk of loss and even death if I don’t work even harder to attain all I can.
But none of this is under my control. It’s just an illusion. It’s materialism as a religion. I have to daily renounce that false notion and replace it with the pursuit of gratitude in contentment. To ask for my needs in an attitude of accepting that God is good and He has a better plan for my life than I do. It’s not even in the receiving that I grow. That’s not even the prize. It’s the transformation of heart that goes into the asking, and the waiting for when I receive not only my needs but the wants I never even imagined All in God's timing. Lord teach me patience as I wait without fear. I said it, I believe it, now let me live it, I trust in you.
Author: James Beach, Co-Founder