My friend Pottsy has dessert after every meal, without fail. In his view, you didn’t actually eat unless you rounded off the meal with something sweet, creamy and sinful right there at the end. In our house, however, we don’t have dessert every night, or even all that often, so when we do, it’s a treat. There’s only one requirement to enjoying the occasional dessert, and that is, you have to at least make a good effort on your veggies. We don’t make our kids eat every last crumb on their plate. We don’t stir up guilt about kids in China or tell them stories about the Great Depression and the way things were back in our day. In fact, we don’t even make them eat. If they don’t want to eat, that’s their choice, but if they want to enjoy the dessert, then they have to at least make a dent on the veggies. It’s not that hard, and it pays off.
Anna loves dessert. She would climb the walls and eat snow tires if there were some ice cream on the other side, so she always destroys the veggies and always reaps the benefits. Norah is harder to pin down. Sometimes she eats, sometimes she doesn’t and she’s not too fussed about it either way. Jack is a whole different story. He loves the dessert, but hardly ever gets any. Rarely will he slam his food and get the good stuff. Mostly he just refuses to do the one little thing he’s being asked. He just can’t seem to connect the dots between a little broccoli here and a slab of chocolate over there.
I think most people approach their spiritual life like the dinner/dessert agreement in my house. They think, “Well, if I put in this much, I can expect God to give me this much back.” They build up scenarios in their minds about what they think God will give them or not give them if they do one thing or the other, and many times that invented profit and loss statement determines whether or not they decide to actually follow God on a given day. The problem of course, is that God doesn’t fit inside our carefully constructed mathematical parameters, and when we don’t get what we expected right away, we cut our losses and do our own thing.
See, I think God pretty much always gives us something different than we expect to get after building into a life with Him. Thing is, what He gives is not less. It’s more. It’s always way more. In the 25th chapter of the Old Testament book of Leviticus, God describes something He wanted His people to do called, Jubilee. The idea was to live and work and sell and trade for 49 years and then take the 50th year off. They were told to return all property back to its original owners, free all slaves, cancel all debts and simply stop farming all together. In fact, they were told to take every 7th year off from farming as well. Check this out: “You may ask, “What will we eat in the seventh year if we do not plant or harvest our crops?” I will send you such a blessing in the sixth year that the land will yield enough for three years. While you plant during the eight year, you will eat from the old crop and will continue to eat from it until the harvest of the ninth year comes in.”
Now, the bummer about this whole Jubilee thing is that there is no record of God’s people ever doing it. Not even once. They collectively decided to not do it. The crazy thing is that God said that if they would have done it, He would have miraculously multiplied their crops every seven years so that they would have miracle crops during the times He told them not to farm, but they never saw it, because they refused to believe and just do what He asked. If God’s people would have just believed Him, Jesus’ miracle of feeding the 5,000 may have looked like just another Jubilee… “Yeah, God always does that miracle food thing… I love when that happens.” What would God do if we just believed Him and followed Him? How would He blow the doors off our expectations?