Thursday, February 21, 2008

Princess or Stray (Part 2) -- Hope Chronicles 19 cont.

During World War II, many children in England had to evacuate due to the fighting. (If you are a Narnia fan, you’ll recall that this is why Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy end up at the Professor’s house.) Some ended up in kind situations. Others pretty much had to fend for themselves. Because of the fear of losing their lives, the fear of what would come to tomorrow, the fear of not having enough, some of the children had trouble falling asleep at night. It must have been God inspired, but someone had the idea of giving children bread to sleep with each night. With the bread in their hands, they knew they had something to eat and would have something to eat for the next day too. With the comfort of the bread, the children were able to sleep.

I believe that there is such a think as a national psyche. I don’t mean that to sound New Age-ish at all. But there are things that happen in each generation that shape how that generation thinks and feels. Sometimes, some of those things are passed on to the next generation.

Some things that have impacted our national psyche at various points are the Vietnam War, 9/11, Kennedy’s Assassination, the Great Depression, Colombine, . . . . These things shape how whole generations think and feel.

Do you recall how Jacob and his sons ended up in Egypt? The quick version: Jacob favored Joseph. Joseph’s brothers got jealous, sold him into slavery, and told Jacob that his son was dead. Meanwhile, Joseph found favor with God and God brought him from a slave to the second highest in the land of Egypt. Then there was a famine and Joseph’s brothers end up in Egypt wanting food . . . . There’s an amazing reconciliation and everyone joins Joseph in Egypt. But eventually the Egyptians get wary of the Israelites prosperity and force them into slavery for 400 years.

It stands to reason that Israel’s psyche was impacted by the famine and servitude. They lived in a land and mindset of “never enough.” But God is with them and He calls them out of Egypt, sends plagues on the Egyptians that don’t touch the Israelites, and performs miracles like parting the sea. They saw God work in mighty ways!

In Exodus 16, the Israelites grumble because they are hungry. God gives them quail to eat in the evening and manna (bread) to eat every morning. He gives specific instructions that no one is to save any of the manna overnight but promises there will be more the next day. Having the heart of a stray, some of the Israelites disregard these instructions. The next day it stinks and is full of maggots (Gag!).

A couple thousand years later, I can look at the Israelites and shake my head and ask, “What were you thinking? God gave you specific instructions!” But then, I suppose, people can look at my life and ask the same haunting question, “What were you thinking? Didn’t you believe God’s promises?”

Yeah, but . . . . You get the picture. Just like the Israelites, sometimes I operate out of a stray, never enough heart.

Mark recounts that when Jesus sent the disciples out in twos he told them not to take any bread, bag, money, or extra clothes. They were to go with the sandals on their feet and a staff. I think I would have struggled to follow those instructions. When they return the emphasis is on the fact that they preached repentance, drove out demons, and healed people. There is no mention of going hungry. Rather, it seems that God provided for them.

The next circumstance Mark recounts is that people followed Jesus and his disciples on their little get-away. Jesus has compassion on them and realizes that they will be hungry. The disciples are aghast when Jesus tells them to feed the crowd (upwards of 5,000) even though they have already experienced God’s provision.

They scrounge around and come up with five loaves of bread and two fish. There – in the wilderness or desert – Jesus feeds 5,000+. Not only does he feed the 5,000, there are 12 basketfuls of leftovers! With Jesus there is more than enough.

Jesus disciples live in a the land of plenty – of more than enough – without realizing it!

Let’s go back to the princess and the stray from yesterday’s post. Which one do you identify with Mali (my stray) or Katy (my princess)? Do you live in “Never Enough” or “Plenty?”

If you come from a difficult background, my guess (though there may be exceptions) is that you operate from a stray heart. The anxiety of never having enough (food, love, whatever) sinks deep roots.

But even if you did have enough or had a pleasant childhood, you may still dwell in “Never Enough.” Remember the elder brother in the parable of the Prodigal Son? He was never in want, but jealousy over the reunion his father gave his younger brother was quick. Part of a never enough mentality or stray heart is a wariness about others getting what they don’t deserve (or you think they don’t deserve). Is your first thought, what about me?

I confess that over the years I have been a stray at heart. I’ve been vigilant about things being equal or fair. Even though I try, at times it is hard to be happy for another’s good fortune. I too often quickly think, “What about me?”

So, how do we turn a stray heart into a princess heart? Any ideas?

Check back for the conclusion in a day or so!


Heather@Mommymonk said...

These posts are GREAT Amy. It's causing me to think not only of myself, but my daughter, who though treated like a princess never seems to have enough. I'll be waiting for your conclusion!

heather said...

I was just re-reading some of your H.C. posts. I was thinking about my two cats. Hannah, I raised from 6 weeks old, and have always provided, even spoiled her. Skitz (because he was so skitish when we found him) was a stray, whom we adopted, or he adopted us, I'm not sure...
Skitz we coaxed with food, gave him a bed outside on our porch, and eventually brought him inside.
When the food dish is empty, Hannah begs, trips us up on the way to the bathroom (where the food is) winds around our legs, and makes herself a nuisance until we fill the food dish. I think she lives in the land of never enough...
Skitz, when the food dish is empty, will just patiently wait. (maybe he allows Hannah to do all the begging for him...) He rarely trips us up, or begs. Maybe he just has the confidence that we will feed him, because we were the first to show him compassion.

Thought: then if I come from a past of abuse, and scorn, and hurt, maybe I should follow my stray cat's example. I should have the confidence that He will give me everything I need. I mean, He has coaxed me, shown me love and compassion, and made me want to wait for Him to show up, like Skitz used to when I came home from work... so, why can't I show God the simple faith that my cat can show me?
Hmmm, maybe this is going to end up as a post on my own blog!!!
If it does, I will credit you for getting me started! :)
Love you,