Today’s word comes to us from the late Henry Nouwen. While I certainly don’t endorse all his theology, these insightful and powerful words from his book, Following Jesus, have convicted me and helped shape the way I think about life and ministry:
“Jesus calls us to move away from the world of scarcity and from a way of thinking about scarcity, to a world of abundance and to a way of thinking about abundance. The disciples had a mentality of scarcity, and so do we. We think there is not enough for everyone, so we have to be careful with what we have. We are fearful people. We are very afraid, and that fear creeps up on us in all kinds of ways. We are afraid for ourselves. We are afraid of others. We are afraid of God. Fear is a pervasive quality in our lives. Fear makes us think in terms of scarcity. It makes us think, This is a dangerous world. How am I going to survive? There is not enough for everyone. There is not enough food for everyone. There is not enough knowledge for everyone. There is not enough affection and I want to live! I want to be sure that I live! I want to stay alive! This is a very common response in us.
When we are concerned that there isn’t enough, our first response is to start hoarding. We start hoarding the bread, the fish. Hoarding honor. Hoarding affection. Hoarding knowledge. Hoarding ideas… Scarcity mentality is very visible in the Gospel. Jesus is saying that God is the God of abundance. Wherever Jesus appears there is not only life but life to the full. He brings much more than we even ask for. Jesus always offers us something beyond our expectations… Jesus’ miracles are signs of a new reality. He says, ‘Do you remember how much bread was left over? You still don’t believe?’ Jesus gets almost desperate and says, ‘How can I make you believe that you can trust me? How can I make you believe that with me you will not lack for anything?’ Even after the resurrection, the disciples don’t grasp the new reality. Peter says, ‘Let’s go back fishing. The Lord is gone. It’s all over.’ They are back fishing and suddenly they see a figure on the shore and the person calls out, ‘Did you catch anything.’ And they say, ‘No we didn’t.’ What we hold onto always diminishes; what we give away always multiplies. It is the great illogic.” (Henri Nouwen, Following Jesus).
Let the truth of those words sink in. Let them shape the way you think, the way you serve, the way you give, the way you love, and the way you lead.
Father of Jesus, help me to live with the mindset of abundance. You are a God able to provide super abundantly more than I could even think to ask for! So enlarge my faith to give and let go, and to thereby extend your reign in my life, my family, and in the work you have entrusted to me. In Jesus name, amen.