Sunday, October 3, 2010

Sunday by the Sea

"He that loveth silver shall not be satisfied with silver; nor he that loveth abundance with increase: this is also vanity. . . . As he came forth of his mother's womb, naked shall he return to go as he came, and shall take nothing of his labour, which he many carry away in his hand." ~ Ecclesiastes 5:10, 15.

I need desperately to be reminded of this. How complicated life becomes with greed! I have indulged myself so much lately, from food to books. I'm not satisfied with the piece of cake I had at dinner--I also want some of that candy I let myself buy for my pumpkin candy container. I'm not satisfied with the wonderful deal I got on a book online--I also have to buy the "Love Inspired Suspense" book I let myself look at in the store.

So much is about attitude. We are aware of our limits, but we test them until we are overcome with the desire to cross them. Oh, I need help! How many times have I talked about my desire to stop buying so much, to stop being so greedy? I'm so sorry to you, my readers, for being so hypocritical. I go through spurts where I let myself go. I just let myself get whatever I want, and in so doing, I lose sight of what is truly valuable.

What does this have to do with the sea? Well, the picture above is of me probably a couple of years ago or so (back when I had bangs!). I was with a good friend, my mom, and my sister. The four of us were on a little beach, collecting shells. What wonderful gifts memories are! What wonderful gifts family and friends are! What a wonderful gift the beauty of God's creation is!

When I get caught up with material possessions, it is as if I'm sitting on the beach, hoarding bits of shells and grains of sand in one little space--alone. I'm missing out on the opportunities for memories with others having fun on the beach. I'm missing out on the feel of the wind on my face and the sun shining warm around me. I'm missing out on the spectacular view of the ocean meeting the horizon.

In the same way, I've been squandering money and collecting little bits and pieces, missing out on something special and wonderful when I lose my eternal perspective. I need to look up from my pile of sand and stand in awe of the wide ocean of God's purposes and the destiny He has for me.

May I use the gifts God has given me wisely. May I hold some shells in my hand and smile at the blessings God gives, seeing their beauty as a reminder to look to the everlasting beauty of the Lord who created them.

May I not lose sight of the ocean for the fragile fragments I hold for now.

"For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also."
~ Matthew 6:21

14 comments:

Diane said...

Good reminder. Thanks for sharing! :O)

Kav said...

Amber, I see you as a very loving, giving and grateful person. It shines out from your writing here on this blog. I don't see you as a hoarder at all, but as someone who joyfully shares of her abundance (faith, family, friends, devotions to God) here in cyberworld. I've been impressed by the gratitude you continually express so I have hard time associating 'greed' with you.

For me, greed, has a really negative connotation. Greed can definitely possess us and crowd out the light of Christ and send us down a slippery slope if we let it but I don't think 'wants' or 'yearnings' are the same thing as greed.

For instance I live in a very humble, crumbling-down house with very little furniture (all of it second hand). I love walking my dog at night and looking in the windows of the stylish homes in my neighbourhood. Do I yearn for some of the comforts they have? Definitely. Am I envious of what they have that I don't? -- truthfully a little. BUT am I eaten up with envy to the point I feel that I am hard done by? Or start feeling resentful? No. Do I rail against God about it? No. I think if I did feel any of those things then I'd be opening the door to feelings of discontent and that in turn could lead to greed.

Personally I think wanting material things is a normal part of this earthly life. If we put our wants above our faith and our Savior then yes, I think that would be greedy. But life is a balancing act and coping with want, figuring out what is important, what isn't and how to live with and without 'things' is just part of our personal growth. The fact that you recognize it and call yoruself on it while putting it into a spiritual perspective tells me that greedy just shouldn't be in your vocabulary!

That's my sermon for today! :-)

Amber S. said...

Diane,

Sometimes I think some of what I write is simply to sort through my own thoughts. I'm so glad to hear that some of them might encourage others, also, because that's what I'd really love to do! :D

~Amber

Amber S. said...

Kav,

Your words mean so much to me, and I'm so grateful for your honesty! I confess that I sometimes wonder if I go overboard with some of my posts, because I want to inspire my readers but find that I myself often fall far short of what I exhort you to do. I worry that I go overboard in the sense of what you're describing in your comment--because you're right! We do need to have balance, to enjoy what places we are at in life (as my roomie told me to some extent last night) but also learn to exercise self-control.

I think that lately my self-control has been a bit lacking. I'm so glad that God forgives us and gives us the strength to not give up entirely but rather "keep moving forward" (as they say on the Disney movie Meet the Robinsons). :) I'm also grateful that He gives us friends and family to encourage us and be honest with us--like you!

I so appreciate your kind, uplifting words, Kav, and thank you from the bottom of my heart for your friendship! :) I hope that I can be half as encouraging to you as you have been to me.

Thank you for the "sermon"--it was just what I needed. :)

~Amber

Amanda said...

Amber, this post is so powerful and so moving. There was such a depth to what you shared that really spoke to my spirit. I love your poetic, beautifully described, parable-esque analogy about the bits of shells and grains of sands. That’s all our material, earthly possessions are- small, broken, shiny things that simply can’t be compared to the eternal beauty, brilliant luster, and glorious splendor of the things that neither moth nor rust could corrupt.

For the record, Kav is right- the words “greedy” or “hypocritical” are not words I would ever associate with my sweet, giving, encouraging, compassionate, friend! But, I would also never want to downplay your convictions or shrug off what the Lord has placed upon your heart. Truthfully, you put into words what the Lord has been placing on my heart as of late. Sometimes I feel like I’m so self-minded that I’m of no earthly good. Rarely content and always wanting more. It pains me to say that because I know I should find contentment and all that I need in Christ and store up my treasures in heaven, like the scripture says. I’ll never forget a quote I read by Tamera Alexander in her book, Remembered (you’re in store for quite a few memorable quotes in her FCC series!): “Greed is a powerful adversary. If you give her a foothold, she’ll take back everything, and then some. Learning to be content is hard… but not learning is even harder.” How I long to echo the words of Paul when he said, “For I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content!” (Philippians 4:11)

You said something so profoundly true, that I’m still reeling from the power of it: “We are aware of our limits, but we test them until we are overcome with the desire to cross them.” WOW! Brings new meaning to the phrase, “courting trouble” don’t you think? Thank you for that spiritual smack up-side the head, my friend ;) Honestly though, that was a beautiful kind of conviction for me that I will carry in my heart forever, and it is so going in my quote journal!

Goodness, “Sunday by the Sea” is officially my favorite post, and they just seem to get better and better each time! Everything from the scriptures you pick to the heartfelt words and convictions you share is such a HUGE blessing! You should put all of your SBTS posts into a devotional book because the Lord has given you such a gift and He has truly anointed you to preach good news :)

Thank you, again, for another wonderful post, dear Amber! Praying you’re feeling better and that the Lord will strengthen you with might by His Spirit in the inner man :)

Blessings,
Amanda Stanley

PS- you look so cute with bangs :D

Julia M. Reffner said...

Oh my goodness, Amber. I was so blessed by this, so blessed by your honesty. And so blessed equally by Amanda's thoughts. Amanda you are most definitely a poet.

This is something that was most definitely on my heart of late. In fact this was a "spiritual takeaway" for me when it comes to my recent jury duty. As I heard about a shooting that took place over money...I was reminded of the song "Lose My Soul" by TobyMac and in particular the video. I played this song over and over again as the trial was such a powerful reminder to me of the end results of materialism. And God had showed me this was in my own heart. I like wearing nice clothes. There are definitely so many times when I feel the PULL of things...the Holy Spirit nudges us so gently...the world so loud and aggressive. Amber, thank you for bringing me another reminder.

Amber S. said...

Amanda,

Wow! You bless me so much with your encouraging words! :D I really hope that God can work through me to use these posts to reach out to others and glorify Him. It's so amazing how He can use our humble efforts! And it's so thrilling that He gives us these opportunities to encourage and inspire one another. :)

I completely agree with Julia--you are a writer/poet, Amanda, and your words edify us so profoundly! Thank you!

Oh, I know just what you mean about contentment! I have so, so much, and yet I keep thinking of more that I want. In fact, I find myself constantly inventorying my books as of late, thinking about the books that I have coming in the mail, the ones I have TBR under my bed, and the ones I have yet to review. Not that reading and being encouraged by these wonderful books is bad at all! It's just that I keep focusing on the books themselves--the lovely covers, the idea that they "belong" to me. Instead of simply being excited by the possibility of being reminded of Scriptural truths and being inspired to live for God more because of these books, I get excited by collecting them and holding them, keeping them pristine. Oh, I have so much to learn! (And this is not the first time I've said this!) The sad thing is, this is just one example of materialism in my life. :(

Thank you for sharing that quote from Remembered, and for sharing that verse from Philippians! Those are beautiful reminders. :)

As far as my quote, I'm so glad it helped you! I confess that I worry sometimes about what I write--worry that if I say something that sounds deep or good, that I might be remembering something I had read before. Does that make sense? I know I'm not just sitting here copying something out of a book without quoting it (hopefully not!), but I still worry that I'm copying a similar phrase or idea from memory. Anyway, sorry for the random tangent, but I hope that what I write is unique. ;)

Going back to that idea, though, I just feel that I do that so much, you know? I know that I have certain weaknesses, but I don't really try to avoid temptation--I "court trouble," as you so rightly say! For example, when I go to Walmart, I know that I should avoid the book section altogether. I know that if I go there, I will be tempted to buy something because I'm there and the book is there. But I have so many books I haven't even read yet, and still I fall into temptation! I think I can be strong on my own, but I can't (and won't). It's so true that God knows us better than we know ourselves, and He will guide us and give us the strength we need to avoid situations we know we ought to if we will simply seek Him.

Anyway, I'm so touched that "Sunday by the Sea" is your favorite feature! :D And that means so much to me that you think they should go in a devotional. Thank you for your encouragement and your friendship!!! May the Lord bless you and watch over you and your family! Are they feeling any better this week?

~Amber

Amber S. said...

Julia,

I am so humbled and touched by your comment. Thank you so much for your kind words! Again, these things that I write about our things I need to work on myself, so I hope the writing of these types of posts will encourage both myself and my readers. :)

Oh, thank you for sharing what you've been learning, as well! I can't imagine how hard that trial must have been to serve jury duty for, but I really appreciate your willingness to share your "spiritual takeaway" from it. It's easy to say that the people who take materialism to the point of murdering someone are far worse than us, but it all stems from the same wrong heart attitude, and God knows our hearts. It's convicting to think about, and definitely something I need to ponder. Thank you for sharing what was on your heart, as well!

~Amber

Renee said...

Amber, What a great metaphor for money--bits of shells and sand! I think that way sometimes, too. What are those bits of metal and green pieces of paper really worth? . . . But I must admit that can easily part with them when it comes to books!

Julia M. Reffner said...

Wow, ladies what a wonderful discussion. Renee, your metaphor, wow. Thank you ladies for allowing God to speak through you.

I take comfort that Paul who suffered so much for the faith willingly even said of himself:
For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I.
-Romans 7:15
Its comforting to know that even Paul struggled with his flesh.

Amber S. said...

Renee,

Thank you! I know what you mean about being willing to part with money for books. :) Books are such blessings--I just need to remember to have the right attitude about them, and I need to remember to be a good steward of the resources I have!

It's so nice to see you here, and thank you for your comment on the interview on Julia's blog, as well!

~Amber

Amber S. said...

Julia,

Thank you so much for sharing that verse! It is definitely an encouragement and a comfort to me, and a reminder to seek God's strength because none of us can practice self-control the way we ought to on our own.

~Amber

Amanda said...

Oh, Amber and Julia, I thank you from the bottom of my blessed heart that you would think that of me :) I am so very blessed by the things both of you wonderful ladies write and share, whether it’s on your own blogs or others blogs, or in your fabulous book reviews! I just know that one day I’m gonna see your books on the shelf right next to our favorite authors :D And, I love that you both are trusting that dream to the Lord! I really admire that and I thank you for setting such a good example for me :)

Amber, I know what you mean about those books! And I pray for strength for the both of us! We can do all things through Christ, right? :) And, I also know what you mean about worrying you’re copying someone else’s quote, LOL! We read so many AMAZING books, and it’s hard to not have their words echoing through your head. So, you’re not alone in your worrying, my friend :D But, just so you know, I haven’t seen that happen with anything you’ve written. So, NO worries ;)

Julia, that verse was WONDERFUL and I thank you so much for sharing it here :) I stand in awe of the power of God’s Word, and how, when read, you feel it from the top of your head to the bottom of your feet. It certainly is “quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” (Hebrews 4:12)

Amber, you are absolutely right- it IS thrilling that He gives us opportunities to encourage and inspire one another!! Thank you, again, my friend’s :) Praying you both have a beautiful day!!

Blessings,
Amanda Stanley

PS- Amber, thank you so much for praying for and asking about my family :) They’re feeling much better now! God is good- Jehovah Rapha!

Amber S. said...

Amanda,

I just wanted to say that YOU are an amazing example to me, and I am so blessed by your encouragement, support, and reminders to trust in the Lord and pray to Him constantly. :)

I'm so thankful for your prayers and for your understanding as we go through some of the same struggles together. You are a fantastic friend!!!

So glad to hear your family is feeling better! Have a great weekend, and thank you once again for your inspiring comments!

~Amber