Last night Tom and I were watching (briefly) a show in which we were given a walk through a $65 million mansion. As you can imagine it was a lavish place with immaculate gardens, ornate furnishings and extensive technological gadgets. At the end our hosts commented “So what do you think, should we make an offer on it?” The implications was – this is the good life, can we afford it ? And if we can’t then obviously we are still hoping that one day soon we will be able to.
We live in a culture that wants to convince us that living in bigger houses and owning more stuff is what the good life is all about. But isn’t that what has led us to the current economic downturn? The poverty rates are still climbing, jobs are still few and far between yet we are constantly being barraged with messages that suggest that getting back to the way we were is the good life. But I think that an economy that is based on the accumulation of stuff is not only unsustainable, it must crash sooner or later.
So what does the good life look like? Interestingly at CCDA last week I met someone who after he lost his job a couple of years ago asked himself the same question but with a slight difference. He had just attended the MSA conference The New Conspirators, at which he was confronted with the question: What does the good life of God look like? So when he lost his job he asked that question and then went out to make it happen. He followed his God shaped dream and became a farmer and also got involved with Mobile Loaves and Fishes – a ministry that works with the hungry and the homeless.
Cindy and Dennis Todd who are working with us at MSA are also using this economic downturn as an opportunity to reinvent their lives around the good life of God rather than the good life of the consumer culture. They relocated from Florida to Seattle. Cindy is raising support to work with us full time and we hope that as the plans for Camano develop that Dennis will be our construction contractor. They are still living on the edge financially, struggling to provide for themselves and their four kids but they are filled with hope and expectation believing that what God has in line for their future is far better than the dream they left behind.
Hearing these stories makes me wonder – how many of us miss the good life of God because we do not see the current economic situation as a wonderful opportunity to reinvent our lives around God’s dream for us and not around the consumer culture’s dream? How many of us miss the best that God has for us because we are still focused on getting bigger and better houses and more stuff?
We all know Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. But how many of us take it seriously? This promise was given to the children of Israel when they were in captivity in Babylon, a season in their history that God used to reorient their priorities. And I think that this challenging time in our history is meant to help us realign our dreams and priorities too.
So let me ask: What is the good life of God for you? What are the opportunities that this economic recession has opened up for you to pursue the dreams of God? How have you used it as a launching pad to reinvent your life and realign your priorities more with God’s priorities?