Scarcity & Abundance (lessons learned from the Cereal Police)

My older sons fight for a very strange office in our household: the cereal police.

The cereal police plays the important role of making sure that no one person is hogging too much of whatever cereal is the most coveted brand of the month. This self-appointed officer can seemingly measure exact portions and can tell, with only a slight glance at a bowl, if someone has crossed the line. If said person has used too much cereal or had too many bowls of said cereal at one sitting or even used a few too many splashes of milk, the officer will most assuredly step in wielding his authority.

Usually, a slight altercation occurs upon accusation and the real authorities are awoken to mitigate the damage. Shaken from my semi-slumbering state,  but aware enough to predict exactly what is happening, I immediately respond with something to the tune of the following statement:

“There is plenty of cereal. We live in abundance, not scarcity. We do not have to be afraid. If the cereal runs out, I will buy more,  as I always do. Your parents knows what you need and like and you can trust them to provide.”

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Scarcity and Abundance

As silly as this sounds, the continual appearance of cereal police role is a source of spiritual conviction in my own life. You see, I have to remind myself all the time that our God is a God of abundance, not scarcity.

I fear that there is not enough blessing to go around; not enough space in the infinite heart of our God to make room for all of His children. Even worse than questioning the depth of His pantry, I begin to question His heart and intentions. Inevitably, I am tempted to believe the same insidious lies that hooked our forefather and foremother in the garden: God is withholding from me; I need to get my own; I cannot trust His heart and intentions toward me.

Just as I attempt to point our scarcity-fearing hearts towards God’s abundant provision and love, Moses wrestled with leading a people who continually believed the lie of scarcity.

In his last address to God’s people, he was quick to remind God’s people of His ample provision for them, even in a land of real scarcity of resources and water.

And you shall remember the whole way that the Lord your God has led you these forty years in the wilderness that he might humble you, testing you to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep his commandments or not. and he humbled you, causing you to hunger and fed you with manna, which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that he might make you know that man does not live by bread alone but man lives by every word that comes from the mouth of the lord. Your clothing did not wear out on you and your foot did not swell these forty years (Deuteronomy 3:2-4).  

But he also went beyond the physical provision to point out the nature and intentions of Yahweh, the abundant God.

Know then in your heart that, as a man disciplines his son, the Lord your God disciplines you. So you shall keep the commandments of the Lord your God by  walking in his ways and fearing him. For the lord your God is leading you into a good land, a land of brooks of water, of fountains and springs, flowing out in the valleys and hills, a land of wheat and barley, of vines and fig trees and pomegranates, a land of olive trees and honey, a land in which you will eat bread without scarcity, in which you will lack nothing (Deuteronomy 3:5-9). 

When Abundance Experienced Scarcity

The Israelite’s clothes did not wear out and their feet did not swell, even in the long wilderness wandering that they had brought upon themselves in their own disobedience. But there was one who always obeyed,  who always trusted the good intentions of the Father, who always lived not by bread alone but by the very words that came from God’s mouth.

His clothes were torn in jest by mocking soldiers. His feet swelled with fluids and blood as they nailed to the cross of our shame. Because Christ, the Son of Abundance experienced scarcity at the Place of the Skulls, we can trust God’s heart toward us.

Our God is a plenty-dropping ploughman.

The Plenty-Dropping Ploughman

His plenty-dropping hand
Must first plough the ground,
Before He can rightly scatter
The seeds that will abound. 

Lord, my heart is all disturbed;
What once was neat now is not.
These fields are lying fallow,
All with muddiness is besot.

Good ploughman, teach me,
To trust your proven ways,
To believe you’ll bring harvest
More rich through long delays. 

Death before life; Cross before crown,
This is the pattern our Christ set down. 

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