As you wrap-up 2017 and point your bow into 2018, which way is the wind blowing?
What a year. A contested election; storms, floods and fires from coast-to-coast; a stock market climbing to historic highs; leaders in every sector toppled by revelations of past indiscretions; consumer confidence is “up,” while unemployment is “down;” a tax bill is passed, and offshore corporate capital makes plans to come home: has this been a good year for you?
You don’t live as an “average American.” In case you wonder about the folks next door, here’s their current debt load, before they add this year’s Christmas/after-Christmas spending (as reported on Sunday – on Christmas Eve! – by the Motley Fool):
For people with those monthly payment demands mixed in with their Christmas cards, there will be little peace and joy at the kitchen table as they do what they can to close their 2017 checkbook.
If those numbers tell the story that swirls around you today, I just prayed for you. Folks who receive and read this weekly blog aren’t likely to be in that cash-strapped category. More likely, you have a history of following biblical principles in your financial affairs, and God has been faithful. Tithe on your gross; manage your consumption; maintain reserves to smooth over the potholes; live beneath your means; avoid unnecessary debt: God’s wisdom has made you wise.
The Scriptures use metaphor to make spiritual concepts come to life. One analogy used frequently portrays the power of God likened to the wind: “The Lord does whatever pleases him, in the heavens and on the earth, in the seas and all their depths. He makes clouds rise from the ends of the earth; he sends lightning with the rain and brings out the wind from his storehouses.” (Psalm 135:6-7)
During Jesus’ three years of ministry, he proved that wind is under divine influence: “In fear and amazement they asked one another, ‘Who is this? He commands even the winds and the water, and they obey him.’” (Luke 8:25)
When the Lord Jesus sent his promised Holy Spirit to his followers – at Pentecost – wind was a part of the spectacle: “Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting… All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit…” (Acts 2)
Have you felt the wind at your back this year? Have the last 12 months been, for you, a time of unusual prosperity? “The ground of a certain rich man yielded an abundant harvest. He thought to himself, ‘What shall I do?…” (Luke 12). His abundant harvest opened options for him, at year’s end; he was at a fork in the road, and he chose the path of the fool rather than the fast-lane of faithfulness.
He built bigger-barns. He missed the wise option: bigger offerings. The wind of God’s blessing had made his year a “best-ever,” and the decision he made to hoard his prosperity shifted God’s power from a tailwind to a headwind. God didn’t take long to indicate his opinion: “You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?” (vs 20)
Big Lesson: don’t mess with the God who controls the wind. The same power that delivered prosperity can bring calamity, determined by what we do next.
It’s the last week of 2017: if your sails are full of God’s wind-of-blessing, make the right moves that keep His wind at your back, sailing into 2018. By God’s design, great harvests were to enable great generosity; they were never intended to fill ever-bigger barns…