You know, I had a whole post written about how Hubbs & I were going to eliminate our respective spending on clothes and shoes, and how we were going to limit our dining out, just to try and save a bit more during this recession.
My post was going to be a tongue-in-cheek sort of rant, poking fun at my uncontrolled spending on skin care products and my inability to quit shoe shopping despite having a full shoe wheel and an increasingly-cluttered hallway.
However, I decided to delete that post even as I was finishing its composition, because I did not want to make light of the very somber reality of these economic times. I found myself sounding trite, and the last thing I want to do is be careless and flippant with a topic that is for many, a hardship and a reality.
The truth is that Hubbs & I are incredibly blessed, and God in His mercy and grace and infinite wisdom has somehow decided to provide for us in an abundant material (and immaterial) manner, even though there is nothing inherently good or worthy about us that would merit such favour.
Sure, we're not wealthy like many I have met in Vancouver; I would never drop hundreds (or thousands) of dollars on a handbag or a pair of shoes, nor do I own multiple homes with pools and other fancy amenities. Neither Hubbs nor I zoom around in an import sports car, we don't have time-shares and vacation homes in tropic locations, and by no means can we even pretend to keep up with any "Joneses," but I recognize that in these tough economic times, we are among the blessed.
Hubbs has a job, and so do I. Neither of us is in imminent danger of losing our employment, and the work that we do is work that we love. We have shoes on our feet and clothes on our back (and extras to spare!), and we can afford to buy groceries even though the cost of food is rising. We have a car to drive and don't have to rely solely on the mercies of public transportation. We live in a modern, amply-equipped condo in a safe and quiet neighbourhood in downtown Vancouver. God has allowed us to be debt-free (except for car payments on the new car), so that we won't have to worry when interest rates go up (which they inevitably will). We don't have to watch the "market" to make sure that our real estate investment or net worth doesn't plummet as the recession deepens. Unlike so many others, we are healthy (save for a cold here and there). Even when we get sick, we have health care and extended health benefits to help pay for the bills.
Do we deserve any of this abundance? Is this our "reward" for being faithful to God? If the blessing heirarchy was a meritocracy, nobody would be wealthy or healthy or blessed. We are all by nature objects of wrath, sinful and fallen and selfish and unacceptable to a holy God. Nobody deserves anything good, and God is the only source of goodness. Our material abundance only demonstrates that God is merciful and gracious in His goodness, even to someone as imperfect and self-absorbed as I am.
I do not claim to understand why God has been so good to us. I have met many other believers who are far more faithful than I, who "deserve" far greater blessings than I do, and yet sometimes I find myself sitting on the greener grass.
However, what I do know is that God's will is to be glorified. This is His greatest desire, and His foremost purpose. As such, whether we live in need or in plenty, Hubbs & my purpose is to give glory to God and to worship Him. It is to proclaim Him and to further the work of Jesus on earth. To that end we strive, and take no blessing for granted. Instead, our heart's goal is to use what God has entrusted to us to bring Him honour.
We aren't perfect, of course. I still spend a bit too much on make-up and shoes, and we still eat out more than we need to (does anyone ever "need" to eat out?!). However, as the economy falters and the recession moves closer to a depression, we recognize and direct our thanksgiving and hope to the Giver that allows us to live in plenty, and we focus our eyes on Him, and not on what we have been given.
We do not take lightly the tremendous responsibility as well as enormous privilege that we have been entrusted with. Though I joke about purchasing all sorts of crazy things, the reality is that we try hard to be good stewards of that which we have been given. We hope that we have been, and will continue to be, faithful in using God's gifts for His glory and for the building of His kingdom.
And in these tough times, we are also being called to be more shrewd and wise with God's gifts. We are being prompted to tighten the reins on our own selfish spending, and challenged to use what we have even more purposefully for Him. May we be proven faithful for His name's sake.