Behold, these are the ungodly,
Who always prosper and are at ease [in the world]; they have increased in wealth.
When Balaam saw that it pleased the Lord to bless Israel, he did not go as he had done each time before [superstitiously] to seek omens and signs [in the natural world], but he set his face toward the wilderness (desert). 2 And Balaam raised his eyes and he saw Israel living in their tents tribe by tribe; and the Spirit of God came on him.
The first part of Psalm 73 really convicted me this morning. Those that live in constant and increasing prosperity and ease are equated in no uncertain terms with the "ungodly".
If I'm honest, "constant and increasing prosperity and ease" actually describes me and my family fairly accurately.
I am especially aware of this given the recent realities in Alberta where many are homeless and starting over from scratch because of savage wildfires. Many more still are either without work or working on reduced schedules because of very low world oil prices and the crisis they have created in our economy - which has become dependant upon the export of natural resources.
My spouse and I both enjoy meaningful and fulfilling paid work.
Our work is not likely to be threatened or interupted by any natural or economic disaster.
We may live in a modest house, but it would not be considered modest in about 70% of communities around the world.
We don't own a timeshare or a holiday property, but we are planning multiple international holidays this year alone.
Every person in our household has more clothes than they can actually wear.
We worry more about extra pounds from too much rich food than we ever will about where our next meal might come from. And, for us dining out is a regular activity as opposed to a very special treat.
So, are we "ungodly" in our privilege and relative ease?
My mind races to justify and excuse us...
we volunteer...we tithe...we try to live within our means...
But, I also make note of houses that are bigger and nicer than mine.
I spend a lot on inessential luxuries.
My daily coffee money is more than many around the globe have to live on each day.
So, are we "ungodly"?
Truth be told, I'm afraid to answer that.
But, I'm not sure a quick answer is what God is after here either.
I feel God drawing alongside me, freely pouring out grace to put away my excuses, jealousies and greed long enough to remember what - or, rather WHO - is genuine.
Isn't that just like God:
...to show up and spend time with the ungodly!?!
...to open and fulfill and redeem us with not-4-sale grace!?!
Application:Today, I hear God saying, loud and clear,
"Take a long hard look at your lifestyle and be brutally honest about the obvious and hidden costs of maintaining it."
What does the ecological footprint of my family look like? (click here for more information and a cool calculator)
How might I better "love my neighbour as myself"?
Amidst, this call towards a searching moral inventory, emboldened by grace, Balaam's blessing grabs me and shakes me awake. Where is Israel when they receive this blessing - the pronounced favour of God; but, tenting in the desert?
They are no longer enslaved. They are not yet established. They are free to wander and learning to follow the lead of the LORD who hems them in, going out before them and protecting their flank.
Perhaps there is here a vital metaphor for us
as we seek to be the body of Christ in this period
of great change, upset and possibility.
What do you think?
Might we be transitioning from an epoch of established Temple worship
to an age of liberated Tabernacle roaming?
I thank you LORD, that I can never be finally accounted as ungodly,
because you refuse to let it be so.
Your parenting love is wondrous.
Now, grant me grace to run toward your invitation
into a life ever-more-worthy of your incredible love for all your creation. Amen.