Bigger Barns (November 8, 2012)

…Opening To…

I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer… I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me… Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain. (Frank Herbert, Dune)

…Listening In…

Then he told them a parable: “A certain rich man’s land produced a bountiful crop. He said to himself, What will I do? I have no place to store my harvest! Then he thought, Here’s what I’ll do. I’ll tear down my barns and build bigger ones. That’s where I’ll store all my grain and goods.” (Luke 12:16-18; context)

…Filling Up…

Jesus assures his disciples that their fears are baseless because their accumulation of stuff will not help them enter the kingdom of God. This assurance runs counter to the fashionable reasoning of the day, which stated that the more stuff you owned, the more blessed you were. “God obviously favors that person,” ran this line of thinking. “Just look at all the stuff he has.” Not too much different from today, I’m sad to say.

But Jesus changed the rules. Remember the story that the verse above is quoted from? Jesus tells a parable about a rich fool. His land produces more than his barns could hold, so he decides to tear down those barns and build larger ones. The more stuff I have, the more secure and comfortable I will feel, he tells himself. Surely, this man would have been considered blessed in his society. But he dies the very night he planned to erect larger storehouses, and he surely couldn’t take his barn-loads of stuff with him. The rich man’s folly shows the misguided lengths to which people will go to ward off deprivation, the root cause of fear.

But Jesus shows his disciples another way to face their fear. Rather than accumulating stuff, give it away, he says. Face deprivation by depriving yourself of the things you think you can’t live without. And you’ll discover pretty quickly that you can, in fact, live without those things.

I’m sure that you’ve heard this interpretation before, perhaps so many times that you tune it out now. And if you’re like me, you really aren’t any closer to facing the root of fear than you were the last time you heard someone talk about this. I know for myself that I used to be able to fit all my possessions in a 1992 Mazda Protégé. When I moved to Massachusetts, I needed every square inch of a 14-foot U-Haul. With more stuff comes more fear of loss, more fear of that stuff not being enough. But fear is only one side of the story. We’ll finish the tale tomorrow.

…Praying For…

Dear God, you know that accumulating stuff is no way to get rid of fear. Help me to know this truth in my life and fill myself with more of your blessings instead. In Jesus Christ’s name I pray. Amen.

…Sending Out…

I leave this moment with you God, ready to face my fears with the knowledge that you are with me.

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