As Far as the Eye can See
Sermon by Rev. Steven McClelland on the Living Generously Stewardship Series: Focus on where we run when trouble arrives? Do the rings of our own making draw us or God who lies beyond our control?
Like most of us who have financial resources we struggle with where our ultimate trust comes from. When you look at what money can build and buy it’s impressive. The skyline of New York City testifies to its great and influential economy prosperity that influences not only our region but our world.
But in the eyes of God those buildings are nothing more than sticks and stones, fragile monuments built by the rich to impress and suppress. They will not last the test of time. In our video today we hear Re talking with Frank about God as the place to put one’s strength in. He describes God as the strong tower mentioned in Proverbs 18: 10.
And in the midst of a crisis we see what tower to run to. From the gleaming towers of built of human hands we see that these towers are defenseless against disease, loss and death. But from God’s tower we get a different perspective. From God’s tower we see as God sees. We see the needs of others and ourselves more clearly. Finally, we can see the horizons too – and the hope that this will not last forever.
There are times in life that will test our faith to see what we truly believe in who we put first in our lives. In this week’s film, we see that Frank has built an impressive tower with impressive walls built around he and his family. He has a nice house, a yard with a pool, a portfolio of investments – everything, but Frank’s investments cannot save his wife – Cassie from a mugging and his retirement plan won’t steady the hands of the doctors caring for her.
A question for you to think on. What was the biggest crisis you have faced in your life? How did it affect your faith? Was money a factor in your situation or was it a question of your mortality or the mortality of someone you love?
Because pain, loss and death will come to us all and the question is can we trust a God who allows pain to enter our lives?
It’s a tough thing. Job trusted God no matter what happened in his life. His wife didn’t. She told Job to just curse God and die and be done with the pain in their lives. And the central question that the story of Job asks is can God be trusted when the bottom of our lives falls out? It’s easy to believe and trust in God when life is going our way, but where do we turn when it doesn’t?
Can we trust a God who allows pain to invade our lives? God may be using it for a greater life lesson as was the case with Job. When Job speaks he shows that he understands this: “If I have made gold my hope, and have said to fine gold. ‘You are my confidence;’ If I have rejoiced because my wealth was great, and because my hand had gotten much;… this also would have been an iniquity to be punished by the judges; for I should have denied God who is above.” (Job 31: 24-25, 28)
What Job came to realize from all his suffering was that God alone was the one he had to do business with, not his wife, not his friends who questioned his faithfulness, but God who had bet on Job against the devil.
Our money says “In God we trust.” But what we really believe should read: “In God we trust, the rest must pay cash.” Cash not God is what we trust. But when we put our trust in God, when we see God as a strong tower we get a different perspective on life. From God’s perspective we can look far and wide over our world, instead of seeing everything from the crowded and anxious chaos of a city street corner. We get a wider view of the world, of life. From God’s tower we can see a new day dawning quicker than from our street view.
If we can see our life from God’s perspective we see our hope coming. If we see it only from our human perspective we may never see hope or truly feel safe.
In this week’s film, Re told Frank that he would know he wasn’t building imaginary walls with his finances “when you stop thinking about it as your money.” What does that mean?
If you see the money you have as God’s money then you will see your role as that of a steward instead of an owner. When this happens money no longer becomes our security. When this happens we begin to experience that peace that passes all understanding, because our money is only an illusion of security. When what we value most the people we love, our own lives, when we see that money doesn’t protect us from the hand of time then we have a chance to let the Creator of the universe take control of our lives.
This week I want you think on this question: Where have your turned for help in the past and did it help? Where do you turn for help with life’s decisions? Having too much and having too little are both problems. When Re lost his wife he became homeless and hated everyone who wasn’t poor. Then he got a job that began to lift him out of his poverty.
Frank has been building his portfolio thinking that this would protect him and his family only to find that muggings and illnesses come to those who have and to those who do not.
I close with this statement by the writer of Proverbs: “Two things I have asked of God; don’t deny me before I die: Remove far from me falsehood and lies. Give me neither poverty nor riches. Feed me with the food that is needful for me; lest I be full, deny you, and say, ‘Who is Yahweh?’ or lest I be poor, and steal, and so dishonor the name of my God.” (Proverbs 30: 7-9)
Reminds me of what Jesus taught us to pray every day: “Give us this day our daily bread!” Amen