In the words of the great philosopher Kris Kristofferson, “Freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose.” Well, nothing, that’s all the market left me.
It’s been a roller coaster ride over the last month, watching the daily stock market report. “We’re doomed!” No, it’s ok. “This is the end!” No, this is a great time to buy. You get the picture.
People (most often my wife) ask me, aren’t you worried? Well, the answer is, kind of. Oh, I’m not worried about my investments, or lack thereof. I’m not even that worried about the cost of living going up and my standard of living going down. Truth is there certainly is some room to wiggle. Not that we’re rich by any means. Well, maybe by the world’s standards, we really are.
My friend Al is currently in the Philippines. The people of the village he ministers to are rejoicing over the well they put in on his last visit. Prior to that, they only had running water for a few hours a day. “Fill them buckets up guys.”
The only water stored at my house is the algae green water in my pool. While I choose between chicken and pork, they choose between fish or fish. While I try to pair my pork with the right starch they try to decide how much rice they can spare for dinner. This, of course, is only one example. This scene is played out all over the world. To be sure, many in the world may be in envy of the riches of Al’s village.
So, back in the old US of A, what are we to make of all this? Well, I think for starters, we need to wake up, and realize that the wealth – or maybe, more rightly, the faux-wealth – we have enjoyed in this country hasn’t really brought us the satisfaction we (and our fathers) thought it would. Oh, of course it helps put us at ease when we can meet the basic necessities of life; food, water, sleep, and breathing. That’s the base level of human needs, as told by the famed psychologist Albert Maslow. Next comes physical security, employment, resources, morality, family, health and property. Can’t argue with that.
Next we seek friendship, family, and sexual intimacy. All good. Unfortunately, Maslow never realized that by overindulging in resources and property, we might actually prevent ourselves from successfully reaching the higher levels of the hierarchy of needs. An example of this is when a man chases the next promotion because it will mean even more resources and PROPERTY, while ignoring the needs of his wife and children. In this scenario, everyone gets more, but no one gets satisfied. Even though they think they should be, they find themselves with an empty feeling thinking, “Maybe if I get more…?” Like, a puffed rice cake, more never is enough. In the end everyone’s miserable and no one knows why. After all, we’re meeting our need, right? Love and belonging have given way to things.
So, all this got me thinking. If we can’t put our faith in things, what can we put our faith in? Well, it would be a cliché to say God. Of course, there’s a reason sayings become clichés. When I look back on the history of mankind, I realize it is our faith in God that has made the difference in our satisfaction. Starting with Abraham, it was faith in God that set him apart from all others. Not his goodness. Not his virtue. Not all of his things or successes. It was faith in God. Something bigger than he was. Something more significant than he was. Yes, he could have worked a little harder. Accumulated more property. Been a better person even. Wouldn’t have mattered. Wouldn’t have satisfied.
I just finished watching a couple of videos by Louie Giglio about our indescribable God. In the videos, Louie shows through cosmic examples, how enormous and powerful God is and, consequently, how insignificant and small we all are. The images of the universe truly are eye opening. Through it all, he makes a profound revelation that the universe screams out the presence and power of God. As I watched the images flash through, as Louie explained them, I couldn’t help but realize that the God, who created all of that, really is big enough to take care of me and all my needs. Oh, the world and all its financial crisis’ are still here. It’s just that, now, they don’t seem so very big at all. Maybe Kris was right after all. Freedom really does only come when you have nothing left to lose.
Michael Yoder is a married father of three children. He has been involved in local youth ministry for over twenty years and currently oversees the Youth Program at Bible Center Fellowship in Salem, OR. His current position as the Assistant Superintendent of Transitional Services at the Oregon State Penitentiary in Salem puts food on the table and a roof over his family’s head.