Remember wanting to be older? The big kids always got to do the fun stuff. They could go swimming without supervision. They could stay up later and watch the cool shows. They could drive cars and go out on dates. They had freedom from parental oppression that squelched every desire a kid had. My sixth grade teacher, Mrs. Stiller, always said there are two sides to every coin, every story, and everything comes with a catch. I let that bit of pertinent info right on out of the other ear, until I got my driver's license and her words came back to me with the other thing she used to say - with freedom comes responsibility. I could drive, but I had to follow a ton of rules to be able to do so. My Dad had his little bit as well: When you are old enough to leave home you can do whatever you want. And I did eventually gain my freedom. I also gained rent, electric, water, and telephone bills, insurance bills, etc. Somehow, the reality of being grown up was a drag compared to the dreams of that eleven year old kid.
And so it is with everything in life. We have a desire, a dream. And in the concoction of all the possibilities, it is so easy to forget the responsibilities that come with realizing those dreams. As an adult I have wrestled with all of it; the dreaming, the work, the maintenance, the responsibility. Sometimes the dream was a lot more fun than all the work it took to realize it, and I wonder if it was really worth it. I have prayed, worked, and served with an eye glued to the grass on the other side of the fence. I have asked God unceasingly to bless me. I have asked God to draw me closer to Him, to His will - His idea of me. In those seasons when nothing was easy, when I had to work hard, when I was desperate for change, for progress, I was much more sensitive to all the little blessings we take for granted - health, employment, family, community, etc. God's blessings in abundance is amazing to discover. When they're new, its enthralling, overwhelming, humbling.
But when you're blessed with health, occupation, family, and all that fills our lives with goodness, over a long period of time we forget the reality of before. There is an onus to blessing. When we reach the point of not needing... fill-in-the-blank... we lapse into our childhood again. We have everything we need, our lives are so full, yet we cannot see it any longer. Gratitude beats a retreat, and behind it goes empathy, and finally humility. Then it gets downright dangerous. We forget the Giver of all that we enjoy.
Its one thing to lose your gratitude. Its a whole other animal to forget the One whose idea we are to begin with, and to begin thinking we made it all happen on our own. Without even realizing it, we quietly divorce ourselves from living according to His purpose. Continuing in this selfish behavior, its not until later we learn the real victim in this divorce are the children: peace and contentment. Hopefully that's enough to help us change course. If we do not, we begin a destructive cycle of trying to fill the void of receding time with God with things that may not necessarily be bad, but were never meant to fill that spot. Lying to ourselves ensues, and eventually, if something does not shake us back into our senses, we find ourselves desiring to fill our bellies with the husks meant for the pigs.
Americans have lived in a perpetual state of blessing for decades. Like ancient Israel, we have begun to think we did it all with our science, our ingenuity, our grit, our intellect. We have forgotten that honoring God caused the immense blessings we have experienced. The last 30 years serious signs have manifested in our society and our government. What a circus. And close to half of us don't even realize how ridiculous we are becoming. What we are seeing happen to our culture and our government is a result of what is taking place in our homes, and in our individual selves. Its all linked and it all begins with the individual.
If you're reading this and its hitting home, the next logical question is, "What can we do?"
1. Take an account of yourself, your relationships, what occupies your time and money. Judge yourself. We have to begin by being brutally honest with ourselves using God's Word, the Bible, as the Standard. Acknowledge the ingratitude, the selfishness, the rebellion.
2. Confess it to God for forgiveness and to a brother or sister for healing.
3. Turn and do what you did when you were desperate for the blessing.
4. Don't forget God.
If you're a Christ follower and have not experienced this, you will at some point, to some degree. Just keep in mind with blessing comes great responsibility. Enjoy the green grass under your feet, not on the other side of the fence. If something seems better, look for the catch. Pursue the truth in all perspectives - that's the two sides to every coin thing. And lastly, you're never old enough to leave God (home).
"The straight and narrow path he showed me turned into a thousand winding roads. My footsteps carry me away, but in my mind I'm always going home." -Joe Diffie