Some friends recently invited me to go canoeing with them for the day. I tried to rearrange my work schedule to accommodate their impromptu plans, but eventually realized that I would have to decline their invitation. As I picked up the phone to express my regret, tears began to well in my eyes, and my mind started to race with all kinds of fears and questions.
What if this is the only time I would have the opportunity to do something fun or special like this with them? Would they still want to be friends with me if I told them no?
Such fears may sound extreme, but my sadness was very real. At the root, I feared that my friends really hadn’t enough love for me or a desire to spend time with me to last beyond this one event or moment.
I noticed a similar mindset several months ago while I was on sabbatical. I had seven weeks set aside specifically to get away and be with God, and it was a true gift from my employer. Just as I was entering the last two weeks of that time, I learned that a close family member had died and attending the funeral would require at least three full days of travel. This may sound cold-hearted, but I seriously wrestled with some resentment and frustration at the timing of this unfortunate event. I wanted to attend the funeral of this beloved family member, and yet I didn’t want to give up any of the time I had been given for sabbatical. The sabbatical was rapidly ending, and now I would have to surrender part of this precious time.
These two scenarios portray just a few of the times that I wrestle with having a scarcity mindset.
Scarcity tells us there won’t be enough of whatever it is we want or think we need, and so we must do whatever it takes to grasp and strive to protect our interests.
Many of us have scarcity mindsets without even realizing it. We simply don’t believe there is enough time or resources available to us. We grasp and cling, trying to protect relationships or trying to prove our value in our work or ministry. When these things come up, we begin to clutch any semblance of control we can manage.
I must protect my time.
That phrase itself reflects the mindset that I only have a limited amount of time, and so any unexpected intrusion becomes a burden rather than a blessing.
In relationships, it shows up both in giving and receiving. I think I only have so much to give, and since I already feel depleted, I must guard whom I give to in order to preserve my energy. Or I think friends only have so much to give, and I grow jealous and envious when they choose to give to another, thinking it could mean they might stop desiring my friendship. I become defensive at work, fearing that if I train someone to do the things I do, then there won’t be enough praise or work to go around, and I may no longer be needed or valued for the work I do.
All of these things lead to my fighting to keep control because ultimately I do not trust that God will provide what I think I need. Such disbelief makes it difficult for most of us to take time to practice Sabbath rest.
In Leviticus 25, God outlines guidelines for the Sabbath year. He commanded that the land should lie fallow every seventh year. An entire year of no work, no crops, no resource! That seems pretty extreme, and from my scarcity mindset I think it would be impossible for me to survive that year, let alone the following year. But God’s promise speaks directly to our scarcity mindset. “You may ask, ‘What will we eat in the seventh year if we do not plant or harvest our crops?’ I will send you such a blessing in the sixth year that the land will yield enough for three years. While you plant during the eighth year, you will eat from the old crop and will continue to eat from it until the harvest of the ninth year comes in” (Leviticus 25:20-22).
It is difficult for us to take the time to rest even one day a week because we don’t really believe that God will provide for our needs if we aren’t working. And yet, repeatedly in scripture and in our lives God provides abundantly for His people.
What would happen if I began to look at life with an abundance mindset?
I was reading this week in Psalm 37:19 where David says “…even in famine they will have more than enough.” That simple statement stopped me dead in my tracks! Living this truth would require me to trust God wholeheartedly before I ever caught a glimpse of how He planned to provide. Just as the Israelites had to truly trust that there would still be enough in the eighth year when they had done nothing to produce it or that in the desert God would continue to send manna each day—something they did not produce, we must do the work of believing He will provide and “do abundantly more than we ask or imagine” (Ephesians 3:20).
What would change for us if we saw the world through God’s lens of abundance rather than the lens of scarcity?
Our time would begin to be God’s time, something to be given freely because it was received freely. Relationships would be easier to give and receive. We would enjoy time together when we have it and be thankful because we’d already know we’re wanted and worth spending time with. We could give to others out of the overflow of the abundant love God has for us.
At work, we can train others up to do good work, knowing God desires for us to rest and trusting that He has called us to this work. We don’t need to fear losing our position or try to control our place of value. God has more love to give than we can handle.
So, from this place of love comes the overflow of abundance. Scarcity is about fear, which leads to control. Abundance is about love, and there is more than enough of God’s love for us to all have what we need!
God, give us eyes to see the abundance You have freely given, a heart to receive it, and a willingness to give from the overflow, letting go of all that we cling to. Help us to continue to trust that You have given us more than enough! Amen.