Living in Squalor

Sally was almost penniless. Her husband Jeb had died years before and while the life insurance paid off the mortgage, she was not prepared. Her life, and the house itself, deteriorated around her as poverty and want became the definition of her daily life. The car was junked long ago as she couldn’t afford to keep it in running condition and had no means to replace it. She scraped by on a few dollars a week for groceries and when the electric bill was too high, she would live by the heat of a Coleman stove and light of a candle. Coffee was too expensive, movies were too expensive, her shoes were too worn and she was too embarrassed so she rarely left home and got by with what little she had. Day after day crept by and she thought, ‘Life was supposed to be better than this, wasn’t it? What happened?’ For years, Sally lived that way, barely getting by and venturing out less and less. One day out of the blue, an old friend from childhood, Miriam, called her on the phone to see how she was doing. Miriam was heart-broken after she listening to Sally’s story and decided to come spend some time with her on vacation. So Miriam flew to Sally’s home and spent a few days helping her sort through her house and clean things up that time and disrepair had deteriorated. In the process of straightening and cleaning out a roll-top desk, Miriam discovered a folder that had the words, ‘For Sally’, written on the front. Inside the folder was a savings book and in the book was an entry made 22 years earlier that showed a balance of $87,000…but that wasn’t all. The folder also contained a yellowed envelope, with a handwritten inscription in Jeb’s handwriting that said. ‘To Sally, with love forever.’ ‘Do you know what this is?’ Miriam asked Sally. Sally searched her memory and at first, couldn’t recall…then she realized, ‘Oh, Yeah…Jeb told me there was something important in his desk for me.’ 22 years after Jeb had lovingly placed the envelope and folder in his desk, Miriam and Sally open the envelope. Miriam watched as Sally opened the envelope and inside was a single folded page and a key. Unfolding the page, Sally read the letter aloud, ‘My dearest love. My time draws short with you, but I want you to know that I’ve provided everything you will need once I’m gone. Check the bank book in the file and take the key to the bank. In loving remembrance, please enjoy life to the full. With love forever…Jeb.’ Sally and Miriam discovered that the key went to a safe deposit box at the local bank. They went to the bank and pulled the box, opened it and inside found several bundles of cash totaling $32,000, a pile of stock certificates and three folders of rare coins. That afternoon, the stockbroker informed them the certificates were worth $550,000. The rare coin dealer appraised the coin folders at $47,000 and the bank calculated interest on the $87,000 of 22 years and brought it to $254,000. All told, Sally was worth $883,000…
For 22 years, Sally had been living in misery and squalor. Her loving husband had prepared for her an inheritance…a way to live her life to the full and not worry and he had provided her access to it.

Lately I have found myself in Sally’s shoes, living in squalor. Not in the monetary sense, but rather in spiritual squalor. I have gone to my spiritual ‘pantry’ and very much like Old Mother Hubbard…I have found that my cupboards are bare. Dangerously low on the things that feed my soul, I become morose, mopey and, well…generally not much fun. When I’m in that kind of funk, I don’t feel that I have the spiritual currency needed to restock those empty shelves & cupboards. Feelings that I don’t deserve happiness or things that are good and pleasing or doubts about my self worth, abound in my mind and steal the joy that I KNOW God intends for me. Some of us needlessly live our lives in spiritual squalor. We’ve willingly signed the adoption papers, accepted His gift of the sacrifice…and yet we sit on His inheritance. We turn our faces towards heaven and bemoan our fate, wondering just like Sally, ‘Life is supposed to be better than this, wasn’t it? What happened?’ Meanwhile, His promises lay unclaimed around us. We have been given the Word of God and the power of the Holy Spirit to help us and to encourage us. Both are inexhaustible resources of power and along with prayer, provide sustenance to our spiritual bodies. They are provided to us…all we have to do is pick them up and claim them.

Matthew 25:34 - "Then the King will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world.”

John 10:10 – “…I have come that they might have life, and have it to the full.”

A good place for me to start living the type of life that Jesus talked about in the above verse, was to sit myself down and actually meditate on all of the blessings God has so lovingly lavished upon me. There are just SO many things in life that I have taken for granted…became complacent about…my prayer is that God will allow me to see these things anew each and every day…

Psalm 103

Praise the LORD, O my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name.

Praise the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits-

who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases,

who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion,

who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle's.

The LORD works righteousness and justice for all the oppressed.

He made known his ways to Moses, his deeds to the people of Israel:

The LORD is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love.

He will not always accuse, nor will he harbor his anger forever;

he does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities.

For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him;

as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.

As a father has compassion on his children, so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him;

for he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust.

As for man, his days are like grass, he flourishes like a flower of the field;

the wind blows over it and it is gone, and its place remembers it no more.

But from everlasting to everlasting the LORD's love is with those who fear him, and his righteousness with their children's children-

with those who keep his covenant and remember to obey his precepts.

The LORD has established his throne in heaven, and his kingdom rules over all.

Praise the LORD, you his angels, you mighty ones who do his bidding, who obey his word.

Praise the LORD, all his heavenly hosts, you his servants who do his will.

Praise the LORD, all his works everywhere in his dominion. Praise the LORD, O my soul.

Have you forgotten all of His benefits?...When everyone else seems to have abandoned you...when everything material seems to have lost its luster...God will STILL be there. He always has been...always will be...

~ V


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