Monday, March 31, 2008

The Decadence of Unemployment

As I write to you from Dogtooth--my favorite coffee shop in the Springs--I can't escape the feeling of decadence that consumes one when sitting at a coffee shop on a Monday morning while the rest of the American population commutes to earn the all important dollar. It is the decadence of the unemployed. Other indulging patrons, I notice, are mostly in their late 50s to early 60s (retirees). Maybe one or two full-time moms stopping in after dropping the kids at school. But I am by far the youngest patron, and I hazard a guess the only one in the unemployed ranks who probably shouldn't be in those ranks.

In my arrogance, I often think of the unemployed statistic as the homeless guy who hangs out all day on the bench at Pikes Peak and Tejon. Or the factory-worker who was laid-off because his job was exported overseas. Or the gal who couldn't quite keep up with the technology revolution. But today I make-up a portion of that statistic. I am one of the 7.4 million people in this country listed as unemployed.

Does this frighten me? Yes and no. There is always the terror that I won't find another job or that it will take a significant amount of time for me to find another job. Finances, for better or for worse, contribute to majority of the stress in our lives. I can understand why financial strains are one of the major reasons for divorce in this country. And while I know that I can be a squatter on my parent's couch if absolutely necessary, I've entered that period of life where I would really like to be able to stand on my own two feet--wobbly as they might be.

So then it comes back to how much do I really trust God. The B&N gig was a position that pretty much fell into my lap--a happy coincidence that I fully believe was entirely orchestrated by God. And in the last few months, especially the last month, I am confident that the Lord guided me to the culmination of my B&N employment. So if God gave me the job and God took me out of it, then logical deduction says that God will provide the what that comes next. Of course that's assuming that God is logical--He is, but is not bound by human logic. That also assumes a certain amount of faith on my part.

There are some points about God and life with God to which faith comes naturally for me. For instance, I easily believe in God being divine creator who is still actively involved in creation. The evidence is all around me, and I do not have a scientific brain that feels the need to dissect all of life to either prove or disprove the theory of creation. Not to mention that once you listen to grass farmer Joel Salatin talk about the inner and outer workings of his farm, doubt in a Creator God seems fully implausible. But when Jesus says, "Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? . . . But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well" (TNIV, Matthew 6:25,33)--that stretches my faith a little farther than it naturally wants to go.

I think that in quitting my job I was seeking first His Kingdom and His righteousness. But I'm not so sure that sitting in today's decadence that I am fully believing in the second part of Jesus' statement: and all these things will be given to you as well. I call it decadence because it feels in complete contradiction to what society would label as wisdom. And trusting God to provide as He provides for the birds of the air and the lilies of the field requires something of me that is higher than what is required of the birds and the lilies. In God's intelligent design of us, He gave you and me a higher consciousness than the rest of His creation. This produces a conundrum of faith. What is required of the birds to believe in God's provision is much less than what is required of us.

But I guess this is what faith is: "being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see" (TNIV, Hebrews 11:1). I know what I hope for, and it is much more than just a new job. I hope for and believe in God's deliverance of our world from the social injustices that plague it. I believe in the new earth that God has promised. I hope for a world fully reconciled to Him. These are things that cause me to come to God with faith and hope. I seek for surety in His promises. And if I sit in my decadence today, I trust that tomorrow I will sit within the well-spring of His provision. And perhaps today I also cry out with the boy's father in Mark 9, "Lord, I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!"


sarah said...

Oh goodness girl, good reading for me tonight. I am in the same thought process. Faith and obedience have been what i am wrestling with. In the end i think it comes down to trust. Do I truly trust God with my life, ALL of it. I am finding that faith and trust go hand in hand.

Amanda Peterson said...

I totally agree with you Sarah. Trust, faith, then some more trust, and some more faith. "All my life" is a lot of trust, and I can't even imagine being in your position and having a husband and four kids to trust Him with, as well. I'm struggling just trusting for myself!