Financially, I’ve never been a rich man.
In fact, there were years where our ministry was small and struggling, and my wife, Leanna, and I didn’t have glass in our windows or electricity in our fixer upper.
Yes, I’m talking years. My beautiful bride stuck by my side through some truly thin times and did more than make the best of things. Leanna made poverty into a party.
Boarded up windows? She painted colorful portraits where panes should have been. No electricity to make dinner for our hungry tribe? Leanna cooked outdoors on the barbecue. She sewed bonnets for the girls, put cowboy hats and on the boys and told them they were playing “Olden Days.”
Dinner around a campfire complete with songs, stories and candles to guide them to bed.
While the kids loved Olden Days and reminisce with smiles about their childhood, it’s hard for me. As the man of the house and provider for my family, those days of lean are a gut punch.
Who knew there was no money in giving away truckloads of food and feeding the homeless? I’m living proof that driving hundreds of miles to preach the Good News to inmates in prisons throughout Texas is not a viable route to the Fortune 500.
It is, however, a direct line to the heart of God.
“Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” – James 1:27
While I remember the shame of my family having so little and feeling like a lousy provider for giving our resources away to others, my kids and God don’t see it that way.
A real man doesn’t push others down. He pulls them up – out of the despair of hunger, loneliness, anger and destructive behavior. A real man doesn’t shame people for being poor, abandoned or imprisoned. He gives them hope and offers them an identity as a child of the one true King – God the Father.
When I feel like a failure, I look at my son, Ben.
While he was in high school, Ben took a job at a grocery store. I started to get worried when Ben never had any money despite putting in long hours and frequent shifts.
What was happening to his paycheck? Was the company cheating him? Down to the store we went ready to demand answers.
Prepared for a heated discussion or worse, I asked his manager why Ben didn’t ever have any money in his paycheck despite all his work. I wasn’t prepared for the answer.
“See that old woman?” the manager said, pointing to an gray haired woman at the checkout. “She gets her Social Security check on the fifth. She gets the food she needs for the month and if it totals more than she has, your son pays the difference.”
Leanna and I were stunned.
“But that doesn’t account for nearly his whole check,” I countered, not satisfied.
“Ben doesn’t pay for just her. He does it for all the elderly people who come through.”
This man was speechless. Proud. Humbled. Grateful – and yes, unable to get any sound past the lump in my throat.
When she could finally speak, Leanna looked at me and said, “Now, where did he learn that?”
My kids don’t talk about the toys they never had or the places we were never able to take them. They talk about the people we helped and the miracles we witnessed by just looking after the outcasts of this hard life here on planet Earth.
While we never had extra, we always had enough. And as a father and husband, I am enough, just like our Heavenly Father provides enough. Jesus’ sacrifice of His life for me and you is enough. We don’t have to work for it or earn it. We just have to accept it.
Let’s remember that with God, enough truly is enough.