Give Me Neither Poverty nor Riches

Lest I be full and deny you and say, ‘Who is the Lord ?’ or lest I be poor and steal and profane the name of my God

“Two things I ask of you; deny them not to me before I die: Remove far from me falsehood and lying; give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with the food that is needful for me….”

Proverbs 30:7-9

I read this short passage in Proverbs in my early years as a follower of Christ. It might have been in college after I gave my life and my heart to the Lordship and salvation of Jesus Christ, or it might have been in the few years that followed. I remember praying these things to God earnestly, and I have remembered these words and my prayer ever since.

During my late 20’s and through my 30’s, I struggled through many difficult years with a young and growing family. I didn’t realize how much this prayer would mean for me. At the age of 28, married for 3 years and with 2 children, I was restless. We had no debt, but we lived hand to mouth. I felt God leading me (I believed) to law school, but I was also focused on what I needed to do to increase my income so that we were not one bad circumstance away from the poorhouse.

I believe God did lead me to go to law school, but I also let worry, and sometimes even fear,  creep in and sit at the threshold to my heart. Those three years of law school were very difficult. We had a third child at the end of my first year. The pressure of the work, of the necessity not to fail, of going into a hole financially, of an uncertain future and more was a very great burden. The pressures and the worry and fear overtook me.

I let those weeds grow up and choke the spiritual life in me. I didn’t maintain the discipline of regularly reading Scripture or daily prayer. My prayers were Hail Mary’s thrown up in the midst of the weariness and pressures of my life at that time. Even going to church was filled with tensions of herding three rambunctious boys into a car on Sunday mornings amid the whining, squabbling and desire simply to take a break. it became more of a duty that something I looked forward to.

Three more children, and new pressures and tensions as a new lawyer, struggling under the load of debt, and many, many activities threatened to snuff out the spiritual life in me. The worry, fear, busyness and lack of discipline on my part to take time out on a regular basis to sit before my God, listening for His voice, waiting on Him, being renewed by Him was a recipe for spiritual death.

In addition to praying the prayer of Proverbs 30:7-9, I prayed desperately to God before those days of tension, worry and fear not to let me slip ever from His hands. I didn’t pray that because I saw anything in my own heart that caused concern, but I had seen enough other people who seemed to have had it all spiritually together at one point walk (or slip) away into spiritual darkness.

It puzzled me then (in the joy of being a new Christian), and the inability to understand it at the time added to my concern that I might be no different than they. After all, everyone of us sins and falls short. There is nothing new under the sun. Though I had fully embraced Christ, and even left family and home and all that was familiar to me, to follow Him, Scripture gave me pause not to be so confident.

 As I look back, I see that I was right to pray those prayers. Not that I count any advantage to being right. Rather, I have learned that Scripture is full of wisdom to which we would well to pay attention. Above all, though, God is faithful! Continue reading “Give Me Neither Poverty nor Riches”

The Humble Heroism of Everyday Faithfulness

Humble heroes are the unsung examples of quiet faithfulness to God’s purpose

In the July/August issue of Christianity Today, the new President and CEO of the magazine, Timothy Dalrymple, talks of the “humble heroism of everyday faithfulness” in his From the President page. In a world of constant attractions and distractions, this simple word is timely. It’s always timely.

I am reminded of the book, A Long Obedience in the Same Direction Discipleship in an Instant Society, by Eugene H. Peterson. This book that came to my attention about 38 years ago when I was in college. A fellow Intervarsity member had just purchased the book to read. Her quiet, unassuming involvement in our group carried the weight and strength of authenticity, and the title of her purchase convicted me.

I felt impressed that I should read it.  I had already become aware of my tendency to be controlled by those attractions and distractions that clamor for attention by reading the title of another book that caught my attention: Tyranny of the Urgent, by Charles Hummel, another Intervarsity connection.

These memories are clear to me. I was in my senior year of college, wondering expectantly what the future lay in store. I was busy with involvement in Intervarsity, finishing up an English Literature major and other commitments, complaining (maybe more like boasting) about being busy, desiring to follow and to be used by God.

God was talking to me in those days. I took notice. I had half an intention to read one or both books. I thought it might be a good idea. I felt like maybe God was saying something to me, but I probably won’t ever know exactly what God would have said to me if I had read them.

If I am being honest, I might have let my heart convince me there was no time for standing still, taking what seemed like a long way around to read books about simplifying my life and just humbly being faithful.

My desk at the office is cluttered with papers, magazines, notes, tokens of meaning and dozens of things that will catch not much more than my attention. My bedroom is cluttered with books and magazines I have read, books I have started reading, books I bought with the intention of reading – including books, no doubt, that never will read. Things have accumulated everywhere they lay waiting for some conviction of devoted simplicity to take hold on me.

I am still driven by the tyranny of the urgent, and a long obedience in the same direction is more the measurement of God’s faithfulness to me than any intention I have carried out in my own desire. I doubt I am unique in this, but that is not a great consolation.

Continue reading “The Humble Heroism of Everyday Faithfulness”

Conflating God with People

We can’t judge God by the conduct of the people


I have an old friend who is “disgusted” that many Christians supported Donald Trump and were a significant factor in Trump winning the election. She, like many women (and men), cannot get past the infamous words that Trump spoke how about a woman reporter. I won’t repeat them here. They are too vulgar for polite company.

My friend has been so turned off of Christians and “the” Church by the fact that many Christians voted for Trump and were a factor in electing him, that she no longer goes to church at all after decades of being a church-goer.

I don’t want to get into politics here. That isn’t the issue I’m focused on.

I have family and friends who say that they can’t believe in God, or can’t believe in the Christian God, because Christians are hypocrites. This is what leads me to write this piece.

Continue reading “Conflating God with People”