"Which one would you like?" asked the gentle man, as I looked hesitantly through the glass window in the bakery, glancing over the wonderful array of assorted cakes and pastries before me.
My gaze was drawn to the beautifully decorated cheesecakes and rich looking mud cakes. Quickly, my eyes moved from these to the flat 'ok' looking cheesecakes and half-stale doughnuts. 'The price of those garish pastries was way too much.' I thought to myself, 'After all, this was only a treat, something I would taste for a moment; surely that money could be spent elsewhere, on something more important, where it would be more needed.'
"I'll have that one," I responded as I pointed to a basic pastry.
"Are you sure that's what you want?" he responded, "How about one of those cheesecakes (he pointed towards the one I actually wanted). They look delicious, you'd like one of those wouldn't you?" he asked invitingly.
"It's ok, I'll just have that one", I said.
As I walked out of the shop, I was grateful to even have a treat, let alone a rich man's cheesecake! But something else told me that it really wouldn't have mattered to him which one I picked...
This story is an allegory of something God has been showing me recently. The kind man in the story was Father God, I was the child and the pastry shop was my life, with all of the intricacies therein; what life has to offer, what's available to me, what's possible, what I think I deserve and what I don't. I am on a journey of discovering more of the beautiful heart of my Father God and all the treats He has on offer for me and for me to give away to others.
Living in fear
For so long I was living in a certain type of fearâa fear of not having enough. A couple of years ago I was working for state government in the youth sector and I was earning good money in a position almost impossible to get fired from. But I was still living in a state of worry of not having enough, and the anxiety that came along with that.
Eventually, I knew I needed to move on from my position but was so fearful of leaving in case I would not 'have enough'; enough money to pay my bills, enough money to pay my rent and cover the basic necessities. How can you be earning good money and still be in a state of fear of lack? I guess the answer was I was living in fear because I still didn't know who I was. I was a child of God still living like an orphan.
Growing up in household of seven children, with my champion of a mother doing at-home daycare, together with after-school care (oftentimes unpaid), one could say I grew up in a hectic household!
With so many mouths to feed we didn't have a lot of moneyâeven cordial or anything other than buttered yo yo's for recess was a real treat. My mother and stepfather did amazingly with what they had and learnt to stretch everything out to supply for everyone's needs as best as they could. I saw great provision, but I also saw my own father be very tight-fisted and this has certainly influenced my perspective on my Father God.
These last few months I have earned more than I have at any other time in my life. God has allowed me to be in such a position to be able to go into a restaurant and not look at the price of the meal first before ordering it. I'm finding I don't have to eat every scrap of food on my plate to the point of feeling sick because "it's a waste" if I don't. If I'm full, then the food has done its job and I am sufficient until God provides for my next meal. He's been teaching me that if I like something nice, something that may not be 'necessary for my survival', I am able to buy it and not feel guilty. Things may not always be like this but God is teaching me so much in this current state of my journey.
I have never been a fan of the prosperity gospel, in fact I am the first to get on my soap box and vehemently oppose it. To go around reducing the gospel to a means for material gain when the majority of the world lives below the poverty line makes me sick to my stomach.
But this has been part of my journey in finding a balance. From seeing myself as an orphan who hasn't realised he's been adopted by papaâto seeing myself as a son. To let myself be brought to a state of living where I have no fear of lack, where I can choose the cheesecake and not worry about how much I have left in the bank afterwards, this is where God has been leading me and it is intrinsically linked to my identity.
Living in my current state I was able to help sponsor an amazingly faithful man of God and his family for six months and it not even put a dent in my budget. Ironically if I was back in my previous state of lack, I just would not have been able to do that and if I was able to financially, then I would have been too afraid to because I was living in fear of not having enough afterwards.
I had to stop seeing my lack as something I deserved, if I should only have what I deserve then I should either be in a state of non-existence or I should be in hell fire!
The reality is God doesn't give us what we deserve, His grace and love pours over us. NOTHING we have we deserve, not even life itself. It is a clichÃ©, but it's true.This is the very heart of the Gospelâreceiving what we have done nothing to deserve!
In reality it wouldn't have mattered which treat I chose from the bakery window, to the kind man it would have been all the same, all that mattered to him was that he wanted to give me a treat for no other reason than it pleased him to do so. It is exactly the same when we want to treat our children, our grandchildren, or nieces or nephewsâwe do it because we delight in them and it brings us joy to do so.
God invented this expression of love, not us! The irony is when we have this revelation of who we are, we learn it's ok to not live in lack, we are then able to help others that actually do have less in such greater ways!
We need a deeper revelation of who we are as sons and daughters of the King. Only God can do this by his grace. It will change the way we see ourselvesâunless it is changed we are of little help to others around us. As one preacher I heard recently said, "we are living in a puddle." And God doesn't want us living in a puddle, a puddle of lack and of fear but He wants us living in a river of life flowing out to the world, bringing hope, blessing and love to those who don't know of it.
Tim Everton is a youth worker and part time designer/artist from the beautiful southern coast of South Australia. In his off-time he pursues his creative and nerdy passions, the beach and seeking out the next best cafe latte both in equal measure.
Tim Everton's previous articles may be viewed at www.pressserviceinternational.org/tim-everton.html