Lucky?

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We rented a truck last week to haul a few things, and of course, the boys wanted to drive it to school! They smiled, climbed in and began trying so hard to open the small window in the back of the cab. I immediately had a flashback of when I was a child. Dad drove a small, burgundy Datsun truck. (Datsun was Nissan before it was Nissan.) On the weekends, my brother and I would ride in the truck bed, feel the wind on our faces, and just savor the ride. During the week, mom worked early mornings, so dad got us ready for school. We would pile in that tiny piece of burgundy metal with half combed hair and breakfast still on our faces. Sometimes we brushed our teeth. We scooted in close (because there was no cab) and opened that back window, enjoying the breeze on our necks. We were lucky kids.

When I think about my childhood,  I don’t remember worrying a lot. There wasn’t too much stress, except for when I tried to plan my jr. prom all by myself. Mom came in and rescued me and suggested I utilize a prom committee. (That was a good thing.) But overall, my childhood was manageable and care-free. I was pretty lucky.

There was lots of margin and extra room in our schedule: Lots of afternoons for brownies at grandmas and secretly watching soap operas on her couch. Dad always took a nap on Sundays and I curled up with him. We ate as a family together most nights. My brother and I played sports, but I just don’t remember feeling too busy or overwhelmed. I did my homework and we went to Wednesday night church. I am sure my parents felt stress, but there was always room for what was important. I remember mom’s Bible study friends at the house and sitting with dad in the garage on many Saturdays. We usually ate lunch with family after Sunday church. Mom and dad both worked and sometimes dinner was a bucket of KFC and biscuits. There were less distractions then, less money coming in, which meant less paid entertainment, which meant more family time and creativity. My family was not perfect but it grounded me and brought security.

 I couldn’t appreciate the margin then or the family time my parents ensured we had. But I sure do now. As my boys looked out that cab window,  I just smiled. I longed for dad and the jelly toast we ate every morning over the heat vent. I missed the music he played on his stereo in the hot garage. I remembered the little table in our kitchen where mom sat out the Valentine’s goodies. I missed her taking me school shopping and buying blue Lisa Frank notebook paper. I felt the humor of the dreaded Easter picture which meant panty hose and a night sleeping in pink sponge rollers. I thought of Poppy’s homemade lemonade and watching TBS and the Braves after school. I remembered all the things that planted something in me, all the things that took root deep inside: Sleepovers with my grandmother and thoughts of Mrs. Edna, the mean old lady next door who terrified us, working the concession stand for the local baseball field, sweet Sunday school teachers and family beach trips.

There was so much intentional margin and freedom and rest. I was so lucky. Or was I? Was it just luck or did my parents realize the margin they left for us? Did they realize they were filling the margin with meaning and memories?

 As an adolescent counselor, I am concerned. I am concerned about the kids in my office that are stressed and angry. They are tired and lonely. They aren’t connected with family anymore. They are staying on their screens until late at night and choosing their phones over real people. Their schedules are maxed out with school and sports and there is no margin or rest or freedom. I had to show two dads this week how to set screen time limits on their daughter’s phones. And they pay me real money for this. 

 Our small group recently started the series, Breathing Room, by Andy Stanley. It’s all about margin and how we need that space to rest and be free. Margin is necessary. But once we create it, are we filling it with meaning and memories? Are we making the most of it? Are we using it to ground us and our kids? Are we responding to the urgent in life or are we diving into what is important? What a challenge! Was I just lucky or did mom and dad realize what they were doing? Were they just creating more of what they were given as kids? Am I doing the same? Am I honoring the lessons I learned from them and my grandparents? I know I long for this kind of margin. 

 I heard a pastor say, “Eventually we will mimic the culture we invest in.”  I had to ask myself, is my culture worth mimicking? What kind of culture am I creating in my home and for my people? It can’t just be luck. I have to create a culture of intentional margin and rest and freedom. 

 I believe margin, rest and freedom are all the culture of the Kingdom. I believe that is why my heart longs for them. The Spirit inside me longs for Kingdom Culture. Mom and dad and my grandparents longed for it too. Now dad is living Kingdom Culture daily. How lucky is he!  

What people or activities made you feel grounded and secure as a child? What about now? What does your heart long for? What culture do you desire to create for your kids, your family? What margin do you need? Once you have, how will you spend it? We can’t just hope we will be lucky. We have to create intentional margin. We have to create Kingdom Culture. Thanks mom and dad for the beautiful gift that was my childhood. 

 

Bounty

Bounty: a great harvest, abundant, generous

There is a bounty for us.

God is ever before us. God is timeless. He is setting things up in the heavens and on the earth right now that will benefit and bless and provide bounty for us. He has done things in the past, in his secret space, that we are only realizing today. 

Deuteronomy 1:30 “The Lord your God who goes before you on your way to seek out a place for you to encamp…to show you the way in which you should go.” Bounty. 

In the old testament, God established a law regarding the harvest that would protect the hungry and hurting:  “When you reap the harvest of your land, do not reap to the very edges of your field or gather the gleanings of your harvest. Do not go over your vineyard a second time or pick up the grapes that have fallen. Leave them for the poor and the foreigner. I am the Lord your God.” Leviticus  19:9

Gleaning was the act of getting the leftovers, so because of this law, the hurting and the hungry would come and glean the wheat or fruit that was left over and would be provided for. 

The book of Ruth tells the beautiful story of Naomi, her daughter-in-law, Ruth, and Boaz. Naomi’s husband and sons die. Ruth and Naomi are both widowed and poor. They leave their land of Moab and return to Judah, Naomi’s homeland, because of rumors of a bountiful harvest there.  Ruth, hurting and hungry, goes to glean from the wealth of Boaz’s field.  

Because of Ruth’s love and care for  Naomi, Ruth’s reputation had gone ahead of her and Boaz knew what she had done. “I know about the love and kindness you have shown your mother-in-law since the death of your husband. May the Lord, under whose wings you have come to take refuge, reward you fully.” Bounty.

Not only did Ruth receive permission to glean from Boaz’s field, but he showed her great favor. He fed her and told his men, “pull out some heads of barley from the bundles and drop them on purpose for her.”  Naomi’s response at the amount of food Ruth gleaned was, “So much!” Bounty.

Ruth later married Boaz and their lineage leads to the birth of Jesus. Bounty.

God’s law for gleaning went before Naomi and Ruth and provided their survival. It went before Boaz and led to his marriage and family. It also went before Jesus and made a way for his birth. 

Do you see this? Do you see that God is always before us, always ahead of us, making provisions for our good?

God is timeless. He is setting things up in the heavens and on the earth right now that will benefit and bless and provide bounty for us. He has done things in the past, in his secret space, that we are only realizing today. 

Isa. 45:2 “I will go before you and make the rough places smooth.” Bounty

Believing that God has gone before us requires faith. It requires trust that God keeps his promises and trust that he sees our hurt and hunger and knows what we need. 

Psalm 37

Vs 3  Trust in the Lord and do good, then you will live dwell in the land and prosper.

Vs 4 Take delight in the Lord and he will give you your heart’s desires.

Vs 5 Commit everything you do to the Lord, Trust him and he will help you. 

7 Be still in the presence of the Lord, and wait patiently for him to act. 

Are you hurting and hungry today? What is the act of trust you must take? Can you believe he has gone before you? That he has made provisions for your good as he did for Ruth, Naomi, Boaz and even Jesus? 

Can you take delight in him knowing he saw this difficulty coming and has already made a way through it? Do you trust him with your heart’s desires? Can you commit this pain or worry to him and just be still? Can you wait for him to act?  

This is a big ask, but I know He has not forgotten or overlooked you. He is the God who sees all and sees you and precedes all and prepares you.

He will come through, just keep your eyes and your hands open. He has already put things in place and is right now setting things in motion  to make a way for you, a bountiful harvest.

And you will be able to just glean, to just pick up the bounty off the battlefield. There will be fruit leftover because He always wins the war and His harvest is so large and he is so generous!

Do you believe it? Just watch, just wait, the battle is waged, the heavens are set, the table is being prepared…all for you. 

“The Lord who goes before you will fight on your behalf” (Deut. 1:30) 

Heaven has gone ahead of you and is fighting right now for you. 

Just as it was fighting for Naomi and Ruth as they were hurting and hungry, just as it was fighting for Boaz as he was single and lonely, just as it was fighting for Jesus as he hung on the cross….And bounty came from all their pain. 

God is always before us, always aware of us, making provisions for our good. God is timeless. He is setting things up in the heavens and on the earth that will benefit and bless and provide bounty for us. He has done things in the past, in his secret space, that we are only realizing today. 

Psalm 139:5 “You go before me and follow me. You place your hand of blessing upon my head.” Bounty