One of my favorite Scriptures is found in Proverbs 30:
Keep deception and lies far from me;
Give me neither poverty nor riches;
Feed me with the food that is my portion,
So that I will not be full and deny You and say, “Who is the Lord?”
Or that I will not be poor and steal,
And so profane the name of my God.
Reading these verses helps me to put a check on my desires. As a Type-A overachiever, I often find myself wanting more than I have, whether it be money, success, a title, etc. This even takes a “holy” look about it, when I dream of being some great Bible teacher, speaking at conferences, leading mass crowds to the Lord.
“Great ambition, unchecked by principle, is an unruly tyrant.”
(I feel very trendy quoting #hamilton right now)
It’s DECEPTION to fill up my mind with all these future dreams and ignore my daily need for God! The thing that should satisfy me is when I am fed with the right portion of what God has provided for me. And to desire more or less is simply DECEPTION. It’s satan whispering to me, “Look at that girl over there – she has it all. The body, the clothes, the travels, the house, the car, yada yada.” Or even looking up to good, godly people and thinking, “If I can just be like him and be loving, kind or peaceful”. No, Scripture doesn’t say, “Fill me with desires to be like someone else” or “Fill me with the plans of 10 years from now”. It says “feed me with MY portion”. The right portion. The portion that the all-knowing creator of Heaven and earth provided for me for this very day.
These verses remind me of the right mindset to have. There is a deception pervading our culture that “If we have more, we’ll be satisfied”. But look at this verse that says “Feed me with the food that is my portion so that I will not be full”. Do you know when you feel too full? When you gorge on too much of a good thing: steak, wine, brownies, *cough* Netflix *cough*…whatever it may be? You don’t have to be a binge eater or an alcoholic to know the feeling of too full. How does that feel? It feels awful! You feel disgusted. You feel like you never want to eat again. You regret over-doing it. It’s not a good feeling. That is the analogy being used here in which “food” is actually a substance provided by God to help energize your body. It’s not to be over-consumed, just like any other blessing God provides.
I’ve recently been tempted to be FILLED by the food provided rather than by the Provider. That’s like getting a bonus at work that’s so good that you quit your job. You can cruise off a good bonus for a couple of months, but then what?
The Scripture reads:
“Feed me with the food that is my portion”
And in another translation it reads:
“Give me only my daily bread.”
One of the things I love about Scripture is that every single word is carefully chosen and purposeful. You’ll never find a meaningless tossing of words in Scripture like we do in today’s times: “I love Jesus, and I love donuts, and I love Taylor Swift” or “This is everything…this pair of shoes”. Scripture is so perfectly crafted that to study just a few words could change your life. That’s what these 6 simple words do for me.
My mindset is far too often: “What more can I do? What more can I earn? How can I fast-track my success?” But this Scripture provides a hard reset on my untamed ambitions. My mindset should be, “God, I trust You, both Your plan and Your timing. Give me today my daily bread.”
I was tempted by my own unchecked ambition just last week. We bought our first house on Friday! ***all the praying hands emojis and all the PTL emojis*** It’s the first home we own as a married couple where so many wonderful memories will be made. A home that is our safe place for being ourselves. A place that we’ll use to nurture our relationships with friends and family. So like I said, we bought it Friday and we spent all day Saturday fixing little things and painting and making it ours. Then, late Saturday evening, a thought creeped into my head: “I could just not go to church tomorrow.” After all, everyone would understand. We bought a house…there’s so much work to be done…we both work full-time…when will I have time to fix the house if not on the weekend…I’m just a volunteer at church. But here’s the thing: I have a responsibility to be there. Not a responsibility from people, but from God. I asked God for a campus that was well-suited for my generation, that my friends would come to know the Lord and continue following Him at this place. And He provided. I committed to the Lord to serve in this role and to build up the local Church. But then my thought is, “I can just miss this one little Sunday.”
Well, I prayed about it. I was pretty sure I already knew what I was going to hear back from God, but I prayed anyway. (It was like in high school asking my dad’s permission to go out late at night…I already knew the answer.) God: “No, it is not acceptable to miss church because you finally received this house. This is a choice…a choice between what I’ve given you and Me. You can either cling to this house or you can cling to me.” And then my response: “But God, you want me to sacrifice for You? I won’t be able to finish the house today if I go to church.” *DING DING DINGGG!* I had an epiphany. The beauty of sacrifice is that you show your priorities by what you’re willing to give up. You determine the depth of your love by what you’re willing to give up for that thing which you love. I chose to go to church Sunday, and no, I did not finish the house projects. What I realized is that I was trying to meet this stupid rushed timeline in my head of getting it all done in one weekend (#typeAprobs) and I was missing out on savoring the beautiful memories with my husband of fixing our first house together.
So if I’m so mature and I can see all this, where then did this thought of skipping church come from? I propose that this thought was not my own. The enemy slithered his way into my mind after an exhausting day and after we received the victory of closing on this house after almost 2 months under contract. There was a large portion of that time when we weren’t sure if it was going to happen. There was so much uncertainty. But God delivered. Yet my thought within one day of receiving this blessing was, “I don’t really need to be at church tomorrow (i.e. keep my commitment to God). After all, He gave us this house. He’ll understand.”
That’s when the deception happens…right after we receive a breakthrough. The deception is that we no longer need Him. We pray and fast and call together prayer circles in our time of need, and once we receive the promise, it’s “Peace out, God. See ya next time, prayer. I got it from here.” And then we go back to “my way, my timing, my desires, my needs, my preferences” and forget that God is Sovereign even after the victory.
The thing about receiving a blessing is you have a choice of whether you’re going to continue to use that blessing for God’s glory or if you’re going to hoard it for your own pleasure. There are times when I’ve chosen the latter, and what I’ve seen is:
- I can’t keep a blessing as a blessing when I hoard it. Outside of God’s hands, a blessing quickly becomes a curse. (We’ve all seen people with too much money or power who end up going crazy from it. I won’t call out names, because that untamed ambition is in all of us. It’s not a professional athlete’s problem, and it’s not a politician’s problem. It’s a human problem.)
- Every blessing has an expiration date. At some point in time, that one thing isn’t going to be enough. You can try to be satisfied with a single blessing or you can be satisfied with the blessing-giver, God. Choose wisely, because one will eventually rot and the other is eternal.
The challenge is to receive a blessing and give it back to God so that you can continue to reap the benefits. God has given you the desires of your heart. Will you be faithful in giving it back to Him to use for His glory?
I started this blog post talking about my ambition for “more”. While I still believe ambition is good, I’m beginning to see that our ambitions for stuff can quickly overpower our desire for God. And when that happens, any blessing we receive from God is no longer used to glorify Him. Rather, we say, “I earned this. I deserve this. This is mine, and I’ll do what I want with it.” I challenge you to wage a war with your untamed ambitions. Crave God as much as you crave success. How do you know when you’re there? When you receive a blessing – something you’ve prayed for over a long time – and you immediately fall to your knees in surrender, asking God how to use it for His glory.