Thursday 30 April 2020

It's enough

What’s enough for you?

Even when we might be tempted to say “times are good,” I’m not sure that one can generalize like that. There’s always people who find themselves struggling to have enough money, food, resources, health or happiness. Even trying to determine what might be basic needs or “essential” is tricky, at best.

And here we are. Times are most certainly not good and, particularly because we’re isolating, making sure that we have enough of anything is a top priority. There may be things that are obviously essential, but there’s still debate about many others. What’s “enough?”

Reminds me of a song.

Last fall, Bashaw Community Theatre presented a very successful run of ‘Matilda’ with additional show in Camrose in January. Amazing performances, so shout out to the cast of children and adults of all ages, crew and their awesome director. ‘Matilda,’ by Roald Dahl, is the story of a unique and specially gifted little girl and it includes one of my favourite songs, written by Tim Minchin.

In the show, Miss Honey, a kind and gentle teacher who helps Matilda, sings a song about her home, a rundown garden shed where she is forced to live by her aunt, the evil Miss Trunchbull.  It might not look like much, she sings, but it is enough for her.

She sings about the ordinary structure and meagre furnishings that simply meet her every need. It protects her, provides a place for work and rest and allows her to “stand on her own two feet,” to dream and imagine and be free and not be afraid. “There is nowhere I would rather be,” she sings, “it isn’t much but it is enough for me.” It’s not rationalizing what little she has, it’s knowing what really matters and that it’s enough.

“It isn’t much, but it is enough for me.”  I think Miss Honey, with all her hardship and struggle, has found "abundance” in her life.

That might not be how we, as a society, see it. I think we tend to see abundance as meeting our desires, not our needs, as having enough to have excess, rather than just the right amount.

But I think Jesus meant what Miss Honey knows when he said “I came that all may have life, and have it abundantly” (John 10:10). 

In John 10, Jesus talks about being the good shepherd who cares for the sheep. He provides for them, feeds them and protects them. He’s also the gate through which they pass from pasture to fold, the way home. The sheep respond to his voice because he know them and they know his voice. All simple, perfectly ordinary images to his first century listeners. Not so common to us, maybe, and our understanding of sheep-like behaviour can take on a negative connotation today, but I think we get the picture: it is all the life that is needed. They lack nothing.

Just like in the classic Psalm 23, “the Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want for anything.” It’s a song of green pastures, gentle streams, the comfort of a shepherd's care and protection, food and drink, goodness and mercy.  Simple, perfectly ordinary images.  They are not grand or elaborate or even generous and yet, “my cup overflows.”  They're not big or fancy or even nice, but it is enough that "I shall dwell in the house of the Lord my whole life long" (Ps. 23:6).

Abundance isn't excess or extravagance or even plenty, it is simply enough. That's all. Enough for us to stand on our own two feet, on a floor or in a green pasture. Enough to keep us warm and safe, from rain or cold or on the right path. Enough that we might not fear, in winter storms or in the shadow of the valley of death. Enough that we would dream and be free. That is the life Jesus offers abundantly, and it is enough for me.