Rich or Impoverished? I wonder.

Dear Journal,

The kids had ice cream cones for the first time today.

That’s the thing about living overseas and coming back home: there is so much to discover and learn. When we first arrived back, Husband went to Walmart to purchase an atlas.

“Why are you buying this; you don’t have a TomTom?” the cashier asked.

Husband didn’t have the heart to ask what on earth a TomTom was. We had to learn about GPS’s and RedBox movies and what in the world American Idol was and about credit cards accepted at drive through’s.

A lot changes in a few years and today the kids learned about ice cream cones.

It was fun to see them discover something yummy and happy. And yet…

A piece of me wondered if we trade real riches for little yummy happies, impoverishing ourselves in the name of “treats” and “affluence.”

We do it with trips to the nail salon and trips through Starbucks drive through and shopping sprees and little meaningless purchases and pill popping and seeing what others are doing and following suit. Ever mimicking those around us.

We even specialize in being consumers of all things “christian.” It is just the way we do life in the west.

And in so doing, are we fancy looking “empty calorie” Christians, instead of being nourished and rich rooted ones?

I wonder.

I wonder at Grace that allowed me to live in a place where these things are not possible. Where all we had was each other. Where toys and treats and gadgets were replaced with people and serving others and pouring yourself out.

Where there were blistered feet after walking miles in sandals, humping a back pack with precious truth inside….not a trip to the pedicure place.

Where I got the haircut of my life for 55 cents …lordamercy…but got to share the Precious Name with a woman with scissors, someone who had never ever heard it before.

Where workbooks and second hand bible studies were unheard of but the pure milk of the Word was in abundant supply. At least in our home and on our walls and written in our hearts.

Where every morning I was wakened by street vendors and hawkers and school children running from mice and I thought I’d go crazy with the smells and the noise and the fact that floor cleaner was simply not available….but where I looked out and saw through God eyes and heard with God ears and touched with God hands.

Where we were targeted and pickpocketed and cheated and taken advantage of and spit on….and considered worthy by God for such an assignment??!

Where instead of internet and ipod was the Breath and Whisper of God.


So as I watch children eat ice cream cone and ask for seconds with a bit of a pout when I say “no”…. I crack a little on the inside. I want to go back.

I want the shirt on my back to soak through again with sweat from the effort.

I want the chance to have blistered feet again.

I want my children to pray for others when they look in a shop and see idols.

If it comes down to it, I want them to know about the man without legs who sits begging in front of the noodle shop, not about ice cream cones.

Truth be known, journal, I’m scared. Because I’m not sure I know how to live in this affluence. I’m not sure how to raise my children here. I’m not sure I’m strong enough to stand the tsunami of consumerism and me-ism and have-it-all-now-you-deserve-it-ism.

God. How do I do this? Help me!

“I am your portion,” He reminds me. “And your very great reward. Keep your eyes on Me.”

There will surely be chances to try to make a name for one’s self. There will be opportunities to better one’s financial standing. There will be pursuits and little compromises that come knocking and the gang will all say “join in the ride!”

It’s just the way we do life in the West.

But El Elyon says, “Make yourself empty so that I can make you rich.”   “I am giving you a good land.”   “You shall have no inheritance in their land nor own any portion among them; I am your portion and your inheritance.” (Numbers 18:20)

Have we given up our rich, goldy inheritance for worldly possessions and lifestyles of ease? Oh Lord, have I?

Let us not, O Sovereign Lord, let us not!

As I ponder the riches of Him, my appetite for the treats and treasures of the world turns to repulsion. Lord, my sweet Jesus, who have I in heaven but You? You are my Lord; I have no good besides You. (Ps. 16:2)

May it ever be, Lord, till my dying day, may it ever be.

Send me and spend me, Lord. Send and spend.


7 Comments on “Rich or Impoverished? I wonder.”

  1. hippie4ever says:

    What a beautiful prayer, may it be the prayer of my life too.

  2. Wow, I think if we all visited countries who have so much less than us, maybe the way we view “things” would change. I can feel your torment in your heart for your children and what you had. This adjustment will be so hard. Are you on furlough? Will you return? God bless you!

    Please feel free to stop by: Trailing After God

  3. Mrs. Santos says:

    I agree with you wholeheartedly always looking for areas of service. I think of “There is that maketh himself poor, yet hath great riches.” We can live in the world but not be of it seeking first the kingdom of God. This is a trial for you, but I bet that soon you will, with Paul say:

    Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.
    I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.
    I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me. Phil 4:11-13

    Thank you for the post and putting so many of my own thoughts into words.

  4. Kristen says:

    Where did you live? I think I can guess by some of your descriptions. Sometimes it’s hard to understand why God puts us in the situations we are in when we are more than willing to do “other” things for Him that we think would be more pleasing. My husband and I adopted our children from the foster care system and would like to adopt more, but somehow it doesn’t seem to be in God’s plans. And that’s been hard for us to figure out, because why wouldn’t He want us to do that? These children need homes, etc. etc. but… I guess there’s something more here than just the obvious answers and I’m trying to figure that out.

  5. Arabah Joy says:

    Mel, thanks for your comment and questions. Yes, we are on furlough and we hope to return next summer after our education assignment here is up. (However, living a nomadic lifestyle means for us we are never quite sure where or when we will up and go) Thanks for your prayers if you think of us! 🙂

  6. Carol Apgar says:

    This post really spoke to my heart. There are so many things that we get caught up in here in the west. I feel it in my own heart. How can we change when on every side we are assaulted by commercialism? How do we train children to see the needs of others ahead of themselves? Why is it that we have been given so much and yet respect the giver so little? So many questions.

  7. Cassandra says:

    Pray and tip-toe your way through, one day at a time. We don’t have the privilege of your perspective, but here are a few tricks up our sleeve on this issue:

    1) We try to maintain our children’s contentment with the little things and remind them that high-octane treats, like ice cream, are best when infrequent and in moderation.

    2) We try to put their attention on seeking fulfillment of their deep needs in Christ, not worldly distractions.

    3) We try to eradicate entitlement whenever and wherever it rears its ugly head.

    4) We remind them that the world has nothing for us. The glitter of vanity fair, we remind them, is like poisoned cotton candy–tastes awesome and intense at first but leads to death.

    5) Do our best not to shrink back in fear, lest we create a “forbidden fruit” appetite.

    6) Pray for wisdom when making materialistic/cultural decisions and use Phil. 4:8 as our guide. Decisions made from Scriptural principles are the goal.

    I’m glad that you’re just on furlough and not staying here. We are thinking seriously about a mission we can do as a family to get our children out of this country, even temporarily, so that they can gain a perspective like yours. Kudos to you!

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