Dispatches

Walk Far Part 4: Far Away Home

"If you want to walk fast, walk alone.
   If you want to walk far, 
walk with others."
- African Proverb

The first time I left the United States for overseas service, I overpacked. I wanted all the comforts of home. I was afraid of the unknown, afraid to be without. 

When I returned to the United States after almost 30 years overseas, I came home with four suitcases. I learned important lessons along the way about posessions and what really fulfills us.

Early in my journey, I read a thought-provoking paper written by Commissioner Phil Needham entitled “Theology of Enough.” In this paper, Needham points out that most of us have more possessions than we need or could possibly use in a lifetime. We consume far more than our fair share. Despite our generosity, a vast majority of our brothers and sisters around the world can justifiably say to us, “Enough is enough.”

“the more you have the more occupied you are, the less you have the more free you are.”
Mother Teresa

So how do we train ourselves to be content with less while also becoming more generous? Much of the world perceives U.S. citizens as wealthy, but we often don’t even realize how much we have. It can be hard to make decisions about with whom to share our gifts and how to share when there are so many pressing needs. One thing I have learned is that sharing is not only about what you have, it’s about who you are and how you offer yourself to the world.

Without a relationship, sharing is charity. And there is a place for charity, but is that all we are called to do? By forming relationships first, sharing becomes more like hospitality—an opening of ourselves to others, to giving and receiving. 

Scripture challenges us to consider what “enough” really means. Extravagance in the spiritual sense is not about physical possessions, but about how we extend the gifts of mercy, kindness and forgiveness to others. So let’s not be afraid to open ourselves up to generosity. 

 How wonderful it would be if the world became so full of hospitality, love and forgiveness that people everywhere would say, “Enough is enough!”

APRIL FOSTER is director of Others – Trade for Hope www.tradeforhope.com. In this series she shares lessons learned from her 29 years in overseas ministry.

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