Monday, May 22, 2006
The financial situation is so freaky here now that there is no situation. When you can’t even locate a situation, you know you’re in an interesting place.
God loves interesting places. He loves trouble. He makes it. Then He fits it so as to dunk me into it. Then He 1) waits, 2) grimaces, 3) checks His watch, and 4) gets me out of it. It’s a rhythm; a pattern: God loves, makes, fits, dunks, waits, grimaces, checks, removes. Just like planting a wheat field, baking a cake, or beating a person with a stick. Thus, God demonstrates His power. The awful cycle weakens me in body yet strengthens me in faith. That's one of its purposes. You are already aware of my world-record faith.
I may be an idiot. I have analyzed this from all angles. As soon as I think I may be an idiot, something tells me I’m a genius. Listening to the latter voice is idiotic, however, so I am back to square one. The best way to stop the mental mayhem is to consult the current balance of one’s checkbook and 1) read, 2) weep, 3) rejoice.
This is one of the few times when we’ve really had to watch what food we buy. It's an up-and-down business, folks. Two days ago, we couldn’t buy any—food, that is. I know this situation will eventually change, but I'm in "dunk" mode now, so I'm going to revel in whatever lessons it has to teach. To one of the few people on the planet dispensing the true gospel, this is a chunk of gold in the cave wall. It’s neato to suffer for the sake of Christ. I hope my kids understand it fully someday. Most of what they think nowadays is, why don’t we have this in the refrigerator and that in the cupboard?, and so on and so forth. I’m not sure they’re now grasping the God Principle, which is that not having money for a particular length of time in this present eon may be a sign of God’s favor, especially if the pinched individual dispenses, for a living, the true gospel.
Jesus did not have much money growing up, and especially not during His public ministry. Judas Iscariot kept the books, if that tells you anything. Jesus didn’t even have a home. Not even a house. He probably strung a hammock between olive trees on the Mount of Olives. He swayed in the breeze off the Sea of Galilee. He got up early before everyone else and went to the mountains to pray. These were the best times for Christ during those years of public ministry. He and the disciples made campfires at night and knocked back draughts of herbal coffee. Imagine the Bible studies going down at that time, if you can. Money didn’t matter. What joy. (I may be there.)
There is something exciting about traveling so lightly through this life, with nothing but a copy of the scriptures, a body, a hammock, herbal coffee, and a well of faith gushing up through the bedrock of trial.
Over these last thirteen years since trading a well-paying job at the Postal Service for suffering-filled vats of evangelistic evil, I have abounded and been abased in the legal tender department. Some months, I cannot even tender things legally. Other months, Melody and I are off to Red Lobster. Whenever God sees fit to abase, it no longer scares me. I used to worry, but I have not done that in years. God has trained me to relax in the midst of peril. Relaxation is my normal reaction to peril now. Friends don’t get it. They tell Melody, “I don’t know how you do it.” This is a backhanded slam at me. I take it and smile. I choose not to make dolls of the people and push pins into them. That would be immature. What these “friends” are really telling my wife is, “I don’t know how you live with that man.” Some have put it this bluntly. Other bolder ones have inserted colorful adjectives before the noun “man.”
Yet these people could not muster faith enough to salt a Wheat Thin. Do I lord it over them? No. Do I mock them for not having faith? No. Do I brag about the absurd amount of faith I have? No. How can I brag about something given me by God? So I just take it. I simply read my newspaper on the wire God strings for my family and me across the mouth of the great cataract.
This does not mean I do not cry. It is possible to be humiliated and free of worry simultaneously. I do it all the time. Then I think of Christ on the cross and realize how far I have to go. It comforts me to realize that God would not ever take another human being that far. It is unnecessary now. Our sufferings now are so small compared to the sufferings of Christ. God has taught me to be rejoicing in my sufferings, inasmuch as I am “filling up in my flesh, in His stead, the deficiencies of the afflictions of Christ” (Colossians 1:24). How Christ could have come away with any deficiencies of afflictions is beyond me. But He did, and others and I are catching up to them.
Well, on second thought, Jesus never had to explain to His kids why something as inexpensive as a box of generic pancake mix could suddenly not be located in the bottom cupboard.
© 2006 by Martin Zender