I have often desired to express God’s caring heart towards challenges in society. And I know that this is his heart too. Both the old and new testament are filled with references to this. Here is just one example:
He lifts the poor from the dust– Yes, from a pile of ashes– And treats them as princes sitting in the seats of honor. For all the earth is the Lord’s And he has set the world in order. (1 Sam. 2:8 )
The problem I have discovered is that often my attempts to come up with solutions, or exercise my gifts and talents, or network with others in this regard have not been fruitful. And at times this has frustrated me immensely. I have struggled to understand why something that I can see a clear solution for, have many of the skills for, and even have connections for, does not seem to materialise.
Over the years I have simply had to lay down certain projects because they just did not bare any fruit. At other times I was forced to stop working on them because they were not bringing in any money; and I needed to eat. Sometimes, to my utter disdain of course, the work I ended up doing either perpetuated the problems I saw in society, or even worse, were the reason for these problems in the first place.
Here I was trying to envision and bring to life a new more effective system, and instead of working to bring it into reality, I was stuck in the old ineffective system faced with all the problems I actually have a solution for. #frustrating!
What has been more challenging about such times is the question of why there is a paradox in the first place. I have often found myself in conversations with God that go something like this:
“God, why would you give me a solution, the skills to facilitate it, and even people that I can work with to do so, but nothing materialises? What is with that! Surely you want this issue to be solved. Surely your heart is to care for the poor and those who are struggling. Surely I have been strategically placed here to serve this need. What’s the deal?”
At times I have continued to carry the vision in my heart and tried to influence the old system with that vision. At other times I have used my own spare time and money and resources to try to realise that vision. And still at other times I have had to lay down my vision. It has not been easy.
There are many things that I could say about this.
- Like the fact that when God realises that your vision to do something for Him (or with Him) becomes more important than He Himself, He will not think twice to bring it crumbling down.
- Or the fact that sometimes God only wants us to pray into something (and that is why He gives us insight into it).
- Or that the timing is just not right, and there are still many things that need to fall into place before realising the vision will be possible.
- And the list continues.
In such situations it is important to find out from God what exactly He wants you to do about what you are seeing, rather than assuming. This can save you a lot of time and tears.
However, in this post I do not want to talk about those elements. I want to talk about how faithfulness affects our ability to care.
You see, in all such visions and strategies is a simple desire – to care. To care for the needs of a group of people who are currently being neglected, or abused, or endangered, etc. The plan is to somehow develop a better solution that can more effectively serve people so that they can ultimately live better lives. This speaks directly to the expression of care. And it is beautiful. It is a desire to see God’s care being expressed through us in innovative and creative ways. The desire is certainly of Him.
The problem however, comes in when we try to express care in one area without expressing it in another. Care, just like anything else we see in God’s Kingdom always adheres to the principles of God’s Kingdom. And one of the fundamental principles is the principle of faithfulness, seen in the parable of the talents. Here is the key portion:
His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Enter into the joy of your master!’ (Matthew 25:21)
So, based on this principle, if we desire to care for communities, or cities, or countries, (or even our friends) then we first need to show God that we can be faithful with what He has already given us. Only then will He be able to confidently entrust more to us.
So what has God already given you to care for?
As I experienced God remove the big things that I desired to express His care through, I found myself consistently faced with caring for the basics – myself, and my family. This annoyed me because I did not want to be busy with such “petty” things if my time and skills and heart and mind could be changing the lives of millions. (probably more like hundreds…)
Often I would begrudgingly do what needed to be done, but I was not happy. In fact, I would often daydream about my visions of grandeur while in the spaces and with the people God wanted me to care for. I was not really “present.” And so I was not really engaging with what God had given me. Not with all my heart.
And so it continued, one cycle after the next. And for years I did not really get it. In my desire to express what I felt inside I tried to bring to life one project after the next. Even if there was just a glimpse, just a hint of a new project or approach that could make a difference in the way I felt called to, I would engage it. Often I would think of a new idea, write it out, and then immediately register a new domain name, only to see nothing materialise (you have no idea how much money I have spent on domain names that were never used, many of which I still renew every year in the hopes that the project or idea will eventually materialise).
And in all of this I heard faint whispers of the truth, but I was too hard-headed and stubborn to listen. I was determined you see. And nothing was going to stop me….
Well, God has a way of stopping even the most determined of us, and bringing us down to our knees. And that is what He did with me. I will not get into all the details of how He did this, but what I do want to share with you is the lesson I learned.
God showed me that I had never really taken care of myself. And because of that I was unable to effectively care for others, or for bigger things that He may want to give me.
In truth, I did not know how to care for myself. And I think that may have been one of the reasons I desired to express my care outwardly so much. Because I did not know how to express it inwardly.
God took me on a journey of discovering what it means to truly care for myself. It was not easy. In fact, it was quite painful. But that is a topic for another conversation.
So here is my 2 cents for all those who desire to care for the big things, but are not seeing any fruit.
- Ask God to teach you how to care for yourself. How to let His love and care into your heart and life.
- Spend time with people who you can see will truly care for you and express God’s love towards you. And ask God to help you to let them in.
- And, put your projects on the shelf for now while you let God teach you how to really care for the foundational things you are responsible for… yourself first, and then your family.
If you can accept the way God’s Kingdom works, and walk out a journey where you are determined to be faithful with what He has given you to care for, by trusting Him to help you do so, and taking the hard steps needed, He will give you more to care for. But, if you continue to neglect yourself and those close to you (i.e. your family), and place all your energy into outward things, He simply cannot give you anything else. No loving Father would. And this Father loves you deeply.
Before anything, He wants to teach you to express His caring heart towards yourself, and those who are an extension of you. And once you can be faithful with that (and the fruit of that care can clearly be seen in your life and family), He might just give you a little more to care for…