May 022014

Would you trade all of your possessions for a billion dollars? Seriously. Consider your house, closet full of clothes, car(s), furniture, exercise equipment, and whatever; just your material possessions. Let’s make it ten billion dollars. I think most of us—at least here in the United States—would gladly do it in a heartbeat. When we consider the possibilities of what we could do with all the money we wouldn’t think twice. I look at my dented minivan that needs a couple thousand dollars worth of repairs, my small older home that needs probably ten thousand dollars in repairs, my not-so-stylish clothes, and appliances that are on the brink of going out; you bet I’d trade it for a billion. Heck, I’d trade all that for a million! In fact (can I be frank?), I’d trade it for half a million.

Some people are content with what they have and where they’re at. I read an article not too long ago about a family that sold their upper-middleclass house in the suburbs, bought some land, and built a 600 square foot home to live in with their four kids. (They’re a little “different”). Contentment is good. It’s good to be happy and thankful for what we have. A lot of unhappiness can be generated when we focus on the things that we don’t have.

However, this post isn’t about learning to be content (a lesson for another time). It’s about the idea that many of us have a lot of “junk” in our lives that we hold onto; junk that we don’t even need. No, I’m not referring to hoarding. I’m referring to leaning on our own wisdom and understanding to get what we want for ourselves instead of what God wants for us. He’s not concerned as much about our comfort as He is about our character. It’s a scary thing. It shouldn’t be, but for many of us it is.

So, let’s get back to the billion dollars. By way of analogy, we can only imagine the riches of God’s kingdom. Not only material riches—although His kingdom will be filled with beauty and wealth—but spiritual riches. From Genesis we learn that God walked in the Garden of Eden “at the time of the evening breeze” (3:8, CJB). Adam enjoyed fellowship with God before his fall. A time is coming when people can once again be in God’s presence. But we can get so caught up in the here and now that we lose sight of the long-term. We’re essentially passing up the offer of a billion dollars (spiritually speaking) to hang onto our little pile of junk.

Yeshua told his disciples these parables:

The Kingdom of Heaven is like a treasure hidden in a field. A man found it, hid it again, then in great joy went and sold everything he owned, and bought that field.

Again, the Kingdom of Heaven is like a merchant on the lookout for fine pearls. On finding one very valuable pearl he went away, sold everything he owned and bought it (Matthew 13:44-45).

We make our own plans, dream our own dreams, make goals to achieve great accomplishments, and that’s all well and good; but do we invite God to give us His input? Do we ask Him to direct us? And when He does, do we argue with Him or do we lay down our desires for His?

I was disappointed (for a time) that Donny Osmond didn’t date me or ask me to marry him, but God had better plans. I felt bad (for a while) that I didn’t become rich and famous, but God had better plans. I always dreamed of being able to sing as well as Sandi Patty, to write a best seller, to speak in front of a thousand people, to change the lives of multitudes like Billy Graham or Mother Theresa; but God had better plans. I always wanted a country-style home with a white picket fence, a wrap-around porch, and a pigmy goat and some chickens on a couple acres, but God had better plans.

I don’t have a lot of money, a large house, or fame and fortune. I can’t sing like Sandi Patty; in fact most of the time my voice sounds like sand and putty. I haven’t influenced multitudes or became anyone “noteworthy.” I haven’t achieved greatness; at least as the world defines it. I’m not the Super Hero I always longed to be. I can’t help but think of the intro to the old cartoon “Under Dog” (my favorite as a child);

“What’s that up in the air? Is it a bird? Is a plane? Is it a frog?”

“No; it’s just little ole’ me: Under Dog!”

I might sometimes feel like an underachiever, but God has better plans for me than I have for myself. I have ten awesome children. What a blessing they are to me! I have a wonderful husband who adores me. I have the best ex-husband a woman could ever want (he adores me too). I didn’t write a best seller, but I published my testimony of how God redeemed me. I haven’t changed the world, but I’ve made a difference in the lives of some individuals.

If I had never tasted poverty, I wouldn’t be able to appreciate abundance. If I never experienced rejection, I wouldn’t have known what true friends are like. If I never felt sorrow, could I have known joy? Real wealth is not found in the amount of things in your possession, but in the love shared in relationships with family and friends. 

No, God isn’t as concerned about our comfort as he is about our character. Our experiences shape us, but they don’t define us. You can choose to go your way or you can choose to go God’s way. You can hold on to your “junk” (bitterness, jealously, envy, unforgiveness, pride, and ambition to acquire worldly fame and fortune), or you can trade it for God’s best. His best for us is rarely easy; but it’s necessary for our ultimate happiness. One cannot serve both God and mammon. Who and what will you serve?

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