I’ve been reading Brené Brown’s Daring Greatly recently. I know, I know, I’m about three years behind the rest of the country, but I had a cross-country move and a baby in there, so be kind, k?
Her research and her interpretations of it are fascinating and giving me much to ponder. For one thing, her chapter on scarcity was a gut-punch.
“We wake up in the morning and we say, ‘I didn’t get enough sleep.’ And we hit the pillow saying, ‘I didn’t get enough done,'” she writes.
Sound familiar? I’ve overstuffed my schedule (and I have no one to blame for that but myself) and when I feel the crush of too much to do I start “not-enough-ing” really fast.
There’s not enough time.
I can’t get enough done.
There isn’t enough of me to go around.
Brown continues, “For me, the opposite of scarcity is not abundance. It’s enough.”
This idea hearkens back to the Old Testament Exodus, when Moses and the people of God found themselves lost in the middle of a barren, desert wilderness where, by the way, there was no food.
So God, in his infinite love and mercy and desire to see his people thrive, sent them food. Bread fell from the sky. Free, delicious, and unearned.
God promised them enough for each day and no more. They were to gather enough for the coming hours and leave the rest. The next day, God would send enough again.
Of course, some of them ignored Moses’ instructions to take enough for one day only. Those distrustful folks went out with their baskets and gathered a giant heap of it.
Because, what if God didn’t keep his word? What if God wouldn’t send bread the next day? What if they starved to death when a little foresight could have saved them?
Exodus 16:20 However, some of them paid no attention to Moses; they kept part of it until morning, but it was full of maggots and began to smell. So Moses was angry with them.
Great job, guys.
But do you know what? I would have totally been one of those people with a pile of maggoty, smelly manna in my tent. Just like them, I struggle to trust that what God gives will be enough.
Enough time, enough money, enough room, enough love.
I don’t want enough. If I’m honest, really truly honest, I want a giant pile of overabundance just in case.
This is what the Bible calls sin, plain and simple. Wanting to rely on anything–including ourselves–more than we rely on God.
When I was a chaplaincy intern I did a lot of overnight on-call shifts. In the middle of the night chaplains are paged for everything from a patient who wants someone to read Scripture to them (yes, this happened to me at 3am several times…), to a nurse who witnessed something traumatic, to the death of a patient.
The on-call chaplain had fifteen minutes to show up after he or she was paged. Going from a deep sleep to the ICU at 4am was intense stuff.
So before a chaplain went on-call for the night, the rest of the chaplains would gather around them and pray. They didn’t pray for an easy night or one free from difficulty. Instead they would pray, “May God give you the night that you need.”
What if we didn’t actually live in a life full of scarcity–too little–but instead each day we were given exactly enough to to trust God, grow into his goodness, and serve in his kingdom?
Exodus 16:35 The Israelites ate manna forty years, until they came to a land that was settled.
What if God gave you enough, just for today?
What if he did that again tomorrow, and the day after that, and all the days after that, until you made it home?