Wednesday, October 16, 2013
Does God Love Me?
I have money I don’t need. Each month I donate the excess to church and charities (and perhaps, sometimes, even more). Recently Ford Motor Company offered its retirees (including me) an option to keep receiving their monthly pension check, or receive a one-time lump-sum buyout. The amount offered to me looked big, but it was really only the amount I will receive anyway, if I live as long as the average man in the United States --- to about age 84. Since my dad lived to 88 and his brothers into their 90’s, I had planned to turn down the Ford offer.
But then I awoke in the night and saw things in a different light. I won’t bore you with the financial calculations I considered (I have an MBA in Finance), except to say that I calculated that I might be able to live off that lump sum offered and my savings. And so I ran out all sorts of spreadsheets, and made assumptions, and did pros and cons and even consulted a financial advisor or two. Is this a good idea, I asked them?
And along the way, I went to confession.
The young priest heard my sins and directed me, for my penance, to read Chapter 3 of Paul’s letter to the Colossians. I thought the young priest knew his Scriptures well, for the words applied to the sins I had confessed and gave me things to think on. But later I read those same words again, while in the Adoration Chapel, and I realized that perhaps they also applied to some other sins --- ones which I hadn’t confessed.
Suddenly it came to me that the words of Colossians spoke of what should be important in life --- and money was never mentioned. I started out saying how my financial needs are modest and I have money I don’t need, and yet here I was considering ways of making even more money. I was weighing the opportunity of making more money which I didn’t need.
And in the chapel I suddenly asked myself: Why? I have a secure pension (assuming Ford doesn’t go broke) and more savings than I need, why put it all in my hands to manage --- and worry about? I remembered the title of my blog: Do Not Be Anxious. It seemed that my late night thoughts had steered me towards a solution which might give me more money, but would give me more worry. Why do that? Why should anyone minimize God’s blessings to them and focus on those things which gives them worry --- especially if they didn’t have to?
I titled this posting: Does God Love Me? You know, during the past week I actually said prayers to God: “Lord, those thoughts in the night which I had, were they from You? Is it Your will that I focus on these actions which might get me more money, which I could eventually give to charity?” But in the Adoration Chapel, I think I received an answer: Do Not Be Anxious. God does love me, and as such I needn’t worry about the future, whatever it may bring, but rather I should just do my best and not seek things to worry about.
I decided I’ll not take that pension buyout lump of money, and I will trust that God will continue to take care of my needs, my REAL needs, not my aspirations or dreams for greater earthly things.
Not all dreams in the night are words from God; some may be temptations from another.
I know there are some people reading this posting thinking: Wow! Is that how rich people think? Would that I had such worries! But the reason I write this is not only to demonstrate how I consider and minimize my own anxieties, but also so that you might benefit from my meditations. While I wrote about my money considerations, there is a more general lesson here: Learn to trust in God, in all things. Don’t go looking for things to be anxious about. Consider your situation, your REAL situation. Are things really that bad that you must focus on worrying about them?
Never think: “This is what I can do with my money or my blessings” --- get fine and desirable things. My life can be made better. Rather think: “This is what the Lord would have me do” --- and He will provide for me sufficient things. We really have no money; all is a blessing of Him to us, in trust that we will spend His blessings wisely --- even on ourselves as necessary --- and give Him good return (as in the parable of the Talents). Investing His gifts, we act as God’s financial advisor. Will we invest wisely? Will our fees be low? Will He think on us as trusted family? Or will we forget that it is His money, His talents?
Before focusing on your worries, think: When was the last time you were naked or hungry or living on an island totally alone? Don’t you have SOME blessings to be thankful for? And recognizing that you do indeed have blessings, ask yourself: Just how important is it, really, that I worry about getting more --- more of whatever it is that worries me? While there ARE some things totally beyond our control which might cause us anxieties – serious illness, death of a loved one, loss of a child – most of us CHOOSE to worry about things which are not important to anyone but us, and it is only us who choose to make them important. Many things of our lives are only wants, not needs, and most of our wants are for ourselves. I have found that if I focus on only needs for myself, and wants for others, I am able to minimize my worries and, I pray, be the person which God made me to be. And relative to my needs, He has never let the jar run dry.
There are many things in our lives which are important, but God is in our lives also, and He is MORE important. When we choose to be anxious over something, we are implying that we can’t trust God, and so WE have to worry over it. Trusting Him more may not get us the outcome we desire, but it will get us an outcome desired by SOMEONE who cares about us even more than we do ourselves: God loves us.
Take a moment to read Colossians, Chapter 3.
If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.
Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassion, kindness, lowliness, meekness, and patience, forbearing one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in the one body.
And be thankful.