Be Rich toward God
By Pam Cress of Pleasant Hill, IA, USA
Then he told them a parable: “The land of a rich man produced abundantly. And he thought to himself, ‘What should I do, for I have no place to store my crops?’ Then he said, ‘I will do this: I will pull down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I will say to my soul, Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.’ But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life is being demanded of you. And the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’ So it is with those who store up treasures for themselves but are not rich toward God.” —Luke 12:16–21 NRSV
Our home was on the Gulf Coast of Mississippi, and it was five days after Hurricane Katrina had devastated the area. My husband and I spent hours cutting tree limbs and moving debris just to get into the house. The storm had taken half the roof. Filthy water and slimy mud covered our possessions. With no running water and no electricity, we began what would take months to do: sort, clean, and repair what was salvageable of our belongings and our home.
I confess, too many times I longed to simply throw it all away. It was during those tedious hours of work that a truth confronted me—a truth that had eluded me before the storm. I was responsible for, and even to, all these possessions! It felt as if those material items controlled me. The care of them stole important time and energy from me.
Amid that crisis, what did matter deeply was my faith in God, the safety of my loved ones, and gratitude for each moment of life. No possession could grant those blessings. I was grateful for the care and generosity of others who sent food, clean water, and even temporary shelter. The great gift of running water, plumbing, health, and shelter magnified my faith. My walk with God shifted to deep gratitude for large and small comforts that I previously did not have.
My journey beyond the lessons of the hurricane continues to focus on what matters most. I don’t have a loving God, but rather I serve a loving God as I am able. I share the gift of love, life, and faith with others.
Prayer for Peace
God of wisdom, we thank you for shelter in the storm and food when we hunger. We thank you for those who reveal the life of Christ by bringing light on the darkest nights. We thank you for those who share from their storehouse and make Christ’s mission their mission.
Spiritual Practice: Open Hands
Stand or sit with your hands extended in front of you. Prayerfully ponder all that you hold in your hands that makes you feel too full, busy, drained, or closed. Spread your hands up and apart to release these burdens; then hold them open and empty them again. Thank God for relationships that fill and feed your spirit. Pray for a generous heart and open hands that reach out to make room for all in the circle of Christ’s community.
Today, God, I will lessen the control my possessions have on me.