November seems to burst with abundance! Berries ripen, fat pumpkins line up in rows, hearts expand with thanks, communities begin the preparation of celebrating harvest, advent, and a new year. Abundance. We long for it. For fullness of health, of resources, of relationships, of opportunities, of freedom. We fear scarcity and ache for our lives to overflow.
I have had season’s full to the brim. And seasons sucked dry with want and emptiness. No doubt you have too. The last 12 to 18 months have been, to date, my deepest season of grief. At moments the bitter taste of my heart shrinking in on itself has left me gasping. I’ve feared my whole life and soul would stay shriveled up like a prune.
Season’s of drought and dead dreams can seem eternal. But a heart indwelt by the Holy Spirit has the capacity to soak in God’s goodness, and heal – even in lean times. Once we’ve been refreshed we won’t settle for the sour taste that comes from a fearful, unforgiving heart. We won’t settle for scarcity in the light of God’s promise of abundance.
Last month I wrote about kindness. I don’t know if I’ll write about abundance this whole month. But it’s what I’m writing about today. It’s what I want to think about right now.
The day my husband and I realized we had to sell the dream home we had bought only 12 months before, I cried. I asked God why he would give me a gift just to take it away. Through those tears the Holy Spirit whispered, a blessing is a blessing regardless of its duration.
And it’s true. A child, a good job, a parent, a home, health, love, financial security, respect, friends, freedom, all of these things are blessings no matter how long they last. A blessing brings joy to our lives, not merely because we enjoy the goodness of its presence, but because it originated in the heart of our true Love. Abundance flows from the heart of God, or not at all.
This fall the rain has poured down for days. Even now it is drenching the ground, washing, pounding, saturating the earth. But it will dry up in time. The earth will get hard, plants will whither. And after a while the rain will flow again. So it is in life. Some seasons are a fire hose to the mouth, we’re drowning in abundance. In others our tongue sticks to the roof of our mouth, parched with longing.
I don’t fully feel the blessings of the season I’m in yet. I want to live in my dream house again. I ache for a home of my own, and a dog, daily. Every day I want a place for my heart to unwind and feel safe and at ease. A place for my hands to create, my arms to welcome freely, a place that looks like me. Where people will know my heart more deeply when they walk through the doors because I’ve displayed it on the canvas of my home. Every day I long for this. I’m still mourning what I’ve lost.
Over the years I’ve learned to recognize that at the heart of it my longing for home is a reflection of my desire for heaven. But that doesn’t change what I hope for on this earth right now, a place of my own. I share this, not to elicit sympathy, but to say simply, we all have unfulfilled longings. I get it.
Through it all I pray for contentment. Even if I don’t feel it in this moment, I know God gives good gifts and I trust him. I want to hold out my hands in expectation of the rain and let his presence filter through my fingers, and drip down my lips, and saturate my heart. I want to find the true blessing there, abundance.
Who hasn’t felt weary, poured out, and lost at moments? Every one of us has been wrung out by life. Sometimes we look at our neighbor and think, “what have they done to be so blessed by God and I feel like Job.” But that’s a lie, every one of us has the capacity for abundance.
So what do we do in the lean moments? We put out our pots and bowls to collect the rain that’s coming. We get ready to contain blessing. We stretch our hearts out to a greater capacity to collect the truth and presence of God. He is sufficient. We have to be ready to contain the supply.
Ultimately it comes down to agreeing with his word. Submitting to it. And reciting it. Whether we feel like it or not. Because you know what? His word is amazing. It can take feelings, and broken thoughts, and turn them around. Seasons that once felt lean can suddenly gush out blessing, without any circumstances changing at all.
The secret is recognizing that Jesus is the true prize, having him is the real abundance. And as my mama always said, “we have as much Jesus as we want.”
Sometimes Jesus gives us earthly homes that speak our language and warm our hearts. And sometimes he himself is our home. Sustaining us supernaturally through tough times.
Here is what we can do to get ready to receive abundance, and what I mean by abundance is a sense of well-being, of joy, of satisfaction and contentment. Abundance doesn’t necessarily have to do with material blessings.
- Learn God’s word. Be familiar with what he says is true. There’s nothing like believing a lie to suck joy right out of your life, even if you’re unaware it’s a lie and are sincere.
- Believe God’s word. It’s one thing to know what God says, it’s another thing to stake your life on it. An honest reliance that what God says is true will bring life.
- Praise God. Even when it’s hard, when you feel offended, or slighted, either by people or life in general. Worship God because he deserves it and it’s what you were made to do. Worship increases our heart capacity for more of God.
- Bless others. When we take our eyes off of ourselves, stop recounting our losses, and focus our care on someone hurting more than us, we realize how full our lives are. God blesses his people in order that they may be a blessing.
- Remember. It’s better to retell the ways God has been present and generous than to rehash the ways life has hurt us. When we look back at what God has done it gives us hope for the future and eyes to see good in the right now.
Abundance relies on God’s willingness to bless his people, and he is willing, and on our willingness to be satisfied by better things. Often what we think we want isn’t the best God has to offer. He can adjust our perspective and expectations, if we let him. It’s not an easy process. (I’ve been known to pitch fits, I’m ashamed to say.) But it will change us. Instead of living in the fear of scarcity, we will begin to live in the assurance of abundance.
“So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’ These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need. So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.” Matthew 6:31-34
Once again, I find I’m preaching to myself. If you, by chance, needed to listen in too, I hope you found encouragement! God is not holding out on us! He offers his very best. Himself. Let’s put out our pots and get ready for the rainfall of his provision!