On finding Abundance in empty places

Eagles on wall
Eagles                                                                                         (c) Brown, 2017
We normally think of abundance in terms of things. Of having a comfortable home, stylish furniture and clothes, shiny appliances and cars, plenty of money in bank accounts for emergency and fun getaways. Things.

Or, a loved one sharing our space. Or, children playing on that carpet. Or trips scrawled on the calendar.

What if abundance is an attitude? A mindset. A sense of well being and of being enough and of having enough even if meals are meager or possessions are few?

Priscilla Shirer talks of abundance in a DeeperStill Orlando event video. We are watching these videos as part of our current Bible study that uses the book, Faithful, Abundant, True. In this week's video Shirer encouraged thousands of women at the event, as well as the women with me listening in Vancouver, that abundance is possible in any season of life.

I agree with her and appreciate her reminder.

Shirer lives in a season of youth and ministry with her three young children still at home. My children are grown, some with small children of their own. We've long passed the empty nest season. Now we are in new territory during this season in our lives.

It is tempting to think of abundance as a time in the past when our small children were still at home and our bodies, careers, and ambitions were younger. I remember a sense of purpose as a stay-at-home mom and a free-lance writer that I never got from other jobs. And we enjoyed good Christian friends and a community of faith. I remember that as an abundant season of life.

It is also tempting to think of abundance in terms of having more time now that the children are gone and of having enough saved after years of work to buy what we want. This is a new season of material abundance.

Abundance may consist of these things but it is much more.

For months now, I've been fasting from most of our accumulated things, living simply, remembering, pondering. The move from Phoenix to Vancouver, WA, opened up an opportunity to "camp out" in a mostly empty house until we began the work of furnishing our new home with new things and all that we own from Phoenix. [Related post: A Season of Less is More.] The season of less is ending. But I hope to keep lessons remembered.

Before furniture and an abundance of things clutter my life, I want to remember a few lessons learned about true abundance. It is easy to forget.

The apostle Paul knew a vision of abundance. He was in prison when he encouraged other Christians in a letter to grasp the hope of God at work:
Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.
A sense of abundance is possible because, as children of God, we have a relationship with the God who created all things and gives us good gifts and wants to do exceeding abundantly beyond all we can ask or even think of asking for. Abundance is seeing God at work in us and through us and knowing he is able to provide beyond ... whatever. And, if only we have the heart attitude to see and focus on what is possible and not on the many distractions or problems that can rob us of a healing and joyful focus, then we can find rest in God's impossible but possible abundance ... wherever, whenever, now.

We can live in abundance when we have little or when we have much, when the loved one is far away or when breathing so close, when the children are underfoot or miles away, when the body is firm and healthy or sags with age, when we have few dollars to spare or have saved a legacy for children and grandchildren.

Abundance is a sense that God is actively involved, now, able to provide whatever and can do whatever, and his promises are true.

A season in a mostly empty house provided a time for me to remember and relearn these truths. Israel was told to celebrate the feast of booths and live in tents so they could remember the lessons of the desert before settling into more permanent homes and communities in the promised land. It is good to spend some time remembering and contemplating what is important on this life journey, so we don't miss truths that can set us free from the tyranny of grasping for more of what can satisfy us little, if at all.

The promised land of abundance is more than things, it is a walk with God, aware, in whatever season we are in today.

Sometimes it is in the scarcity of things that this view of abundance becomes clearer. Sometimes we need to reach a place of attaining or having the very things we thought would satisfy us to find out that they can't. It may take us striving and finally getting to a particular place or to finally possess a particular thing, to find out that that place or thing cannot fully satisfy the deep longing in our hearts for more. Those journeys of dashed hopes end in a strange desert emptiness.

In our empty soul places, only an awareness of what is important and what is not can clarify how goals, people and things fit into the picture of an abundant life. God is in the business of helping his children see realities in the empty places, when they are kicking up dust through dry scorching places or rearranging modern clutter into piles of what to keep and what to give away.

Abundance is a sense of God's presence and provision, today and in the future. It is a confidence that because God is at work, we have more than enough for the season we live in now and all that means.

How about you? Have you caught God at work to spread a picnic banquet of abundance during a season of your life? Please share.

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