Thursday, August 27, 2009

The Grateful Heart (part 7)

I was invited to write one week of devotionals for the 2011 edition of the "Upper Room Disciplines." The devotionals are based on the lectionary scriptures for a week in October. Here is the seventh and final one.

Sunday – Read Deuteronomy 8:7-18

The more prosperous we are, the more we become chronically dissatisfied. What we have never seems to be enough, and we join the corporate quest for more and better. It is not just materialism. We tire of relationships and grow bored with opportunities. We shop for a new church when love gets uncomfortable and try the next fad in self-help when what we are doing doesn’t “work.”

Deuteronomy 8 is a fresh reminder of God’s provision. Meditating on the bountiful gifts of the Promised Land can help keep us authentically grounded, remembering where blessings come from.

God brought them “into a good land.” (vs. 7) God describes it with images of streams and springs as well as wheat, barley, vines, and figs. God even mentions the iron and copper ready for mining.

Yet God describes these things to Israel because God wants them to remain faithful. God warns that once they enjoy the land, they might forget where they’ve come from. Their hearts might become proud, and they might begin to think that what they have is because of the power of their own hands. Perhaps the people of Israel were not much different than us.

Trusting in God’s provision is knowing that what we have is enough to find joy. True blessings have more to do with what we’ve been through than what we own.

One of the biggest challenges in our religious culture is “prosperity spirituality.” It is rooted in dissatisfaction and the idea that if I do more for God, God will do more for me. At times, it seems to be little more than an exaltation of my own desires.

God’s greatest desire is to instill gratitude in us, not reinforce our chronic anxiety for more. Perhaps contentment is a form of liberation.

Take some time in your journal to list your blessings. Try to focus less on what you have, including relationships and opportunities, and more on where you’ve been and what God has brought you through. Give praise to the great provider.