A few days ago, a man and woman that work on tile floors dropped by our house and took a look at our bathrooms to see if we needed new tile or not. The woman was outgoing and friendly, but the man was quiet and reserved. As he walked into the house, I heard him say “Wow” under his breath, then he proceeded to whistle at different rooms as he walked through them, like he was touring Buckingham Palace. He made a few statements like “This place is really nice. I could never afford to live somewhere like this.”
The woman went outside to make a phone call, and I stayed inside and started asking the man (Richard) some questions. It turned out that he was on disability because he had cystic fibrosis, diagnosed at 8 months old. He was now in his 30s and not knowing how much longer he would live. He had worked steadily for all of his life up until a few years ago when the pain became too intense and he had to stop. He wanted to work and make money, but that was nearly impossible now because of his disease.
I have never expected anyone to whistle when they came into my house. Our house is nice, but not extravagant. But that is the point: To Richard, it was extravagant. And that is what rocked me. The lives you and I live are so ridiculously blessed that most of the world’s population would whistle in awe at them. I forget that.
Most of the time I am thinking about how to go bigger and better, not primarily pertaining to material possessions, but everything. In fact, I get so concerned, obsessed, and focused on the next big thing that I usually miss the stark reality of how ridiculously blessed I am RIGHT NOW.
Sometimes I am so focused on what is next that I miss out on what is presently in front of me. This is true of my children, my wife, my present relationship with God, the food in my fridge, the car parked in my driveway, and all the friends and family in my life.
I love having vision. I love the God-given desire to take ground and go after “more” in every aspect of life. Man is created to explore and take dominion, capturing every inch of this globe through love for His glory. I am all about it…
…But I also want to live in the moment and see my situation for what it really is. We can get so focused on what we don’t yet have that we can forget what we already have. The result is that we don’t enjoy what is before us as much as we could. In other words, my desire for more can so easily overshadow thanksgiving. We can forget that most of the world, if they saw where we live, would react not unlike Richard. It is easy to forget that 90% of the globe does not live lives that we do.
There is so much that I complain about or allow to discourage me. But if I continually possessed and remembered how crazy blessed I am, I would never ever feel anything but utter bliss. My ability to see my life as overflowing with abundance shouldn’t need to be conjured up. It is reality. Look at Africa. Look at the Middle East. China may be a super power but I have been there and most people live in cramped apartments and work insane hours just to get by. Most of the world lives in poverty. But you and I don’t.
I never have as much clarity as when I am in a state of thanksgiving. In a place of thanksgiving, all you want to do is worship God for what you have, give, and give some more. “Freely you have received, freely give” finally makes sense in the midst of thankfulness. Thanksgiving is wonderfully humbling as well, because you know that when all is said and done, you really didn’t do anything to deserve everything you have anyways. In thanksgiving the reality of grace becomes incredibly clear.
I laid hands on Richard and declared healing over him. Peace showed up. He got a measure of healing and we are praying for more. I made him and the woman an epic latte from beans I had just roasted, loved them up, and gave them our book on healing. I had this overwhelming desire to give to them, not because they have less than me but because their “less” revealed to me the reality of how much I have.
It isn’t out of guilt or obligation because others have less that we give, but out of freshly realizing the abundance we possess. Abundance is the best motivator for giving as it lacks condescension and is full of joy and humility. Despite what your income is, when we don't feel like we are living in abundance that is an indicator that we have lost sight of what is reality. At that point, it is time to cross paths with a "Richard" so that we gain a more realistic view of our situation.
Next time you walk into your house, give a little whistle at what God has given you. Next time you hug your kids or spouse or family member, whisper a little “Wow” under your breath to God in worship. There is much to be happy about if we will only adopt a realistic perspective on our lives.