While I've always loved the smell and shiny packaging of new dreams, they usually choke to death in the cellophane. Whenever I'd bring one home, I'd fantasize about the plots and special features. But then I'd never bother to open them up because—well, my DVD player didn't work.
The metal prongs on my cord were bent.
Dreaming was something my wife and I loved to do together. We had our hearts set on watching one particular movie for years. In it, the two lead characters move their family to Canada. They trust God has a purpose for them in a new land.
But that box sat on the shelf for years. Even if I could figure out a way to get the plug in the wall again, our circumstances didn't bode well for dreaming. For starters, we lived in a section of Northern Indiana which The New York Times had characterized as "the white-hot center of the economic meltdown." In the 15-month period leading up to and immediately following the 2008 presidential election, Barack Obama visited our imploding neighborhood of home foreclosures and high unemployment four times. In fact, after he won the election, his first official domestic trip as president brought him just a few miles from our home. We needed hope and longed for a new direction.
As the economy teetered on collapse, I created a golden calf and worshipped my steady job of thirteen years as a high school teacher and its promise of a retirement pension.
My wife thought we'd never enjoy our movie together.
Meanwhile, a friend kept insisting I read Stephen K. De Silva's "Money and the Prosperous Soul." Call me jaded, but I winced at another Christian book which proclaimed prosperity. Finally, she just handed me a copy.
As I read, I recognized deep soul wounds in myself which were distorting my identity and purpose, and I located lies which were robbing me of my dreams.
My soul was bent. A spirit of poverty had bent the prongs.
De Silva writes, "The basic message of Poverty is this: There is never enough. When people live long under the influence of this message, it takes on a personal tone: There is never enough for me, because I am not worth it."
This anti-Gospel message had done a number on my soul. It created anxiety and prompted me to expect trouble (always). I felt overlooked and ignored by everyone (including God). My ability to dream had been squelched (because, really, what's the use?).
To me, God's best for my life looked more like a pile of holy scraps. Like Jacob, I thought of myself as a "heel" or "hind part," trying to operate in a world of limited resources, regardless of the actual monetary or spiritual resources I had access to. This lie, which had grown more powerful in my life than God's promises, prevented me from taking even reasonable steps towards my dreams and enjoying life.
According to De Silva, the Gospel proclaims "there is always enough"—even for folks who feel like a heel. For someone like Jacob, it can take a miracle to believe that statement. And that's exactly why Jacob had to wrestle with God: "to displace the power of lack in his life."
Would I wrestle through it?
My family moved to Canada last summer. Every step of the way, we watch and marvel at howThere is always more than enough. And every time I repeat those words aloud, I step closer to the truth.