by Ramesh Richard
The Fall of 2001 alerted us to the need for personal safety and the Fall of 2008 to the need for financial security. The Spring of 2020 combines both realities into the most basic need for survival itself. And yet these different and difficult kinds of times ripen our hearts to check about what is ultimately important to us.
“How is the global financial crisis affecting you?” I asked a wealthy friend during the 2008 catastrophic crunch. He responded, “I’m having to reassess everything about money, especially my heart.” Reassessment should be a continuous heart-exercise. Solomon recommends that we constantly check our hearts, because the strategies of life flow out of it (Prov. 4:23). The biblical “heart” stands not only for the emotion and the mind, but also for the will that controls life.
I wrote down seven questions of heart-reassessment which we can ask ourselves. My only recommendation during this “stay-at-home” exercise, whether over one week or seven weeks: be ruthlessly honest with yourself and invite the Spirit’s probing leadership. You’ll be surprised and comforted.
- Ideas: What are my ideas concerning the good life? Am I confusing quality and quantity in my understanding? How can I get away from a “numbers” view of life?
- Beliefs: How do I discern true beliefs from erroneous ones about God and safety? How do I prudently use God’s/my money? What do I believe is God’s role in providing for both the system and opportunity of staying safe and making money?
- Values: Which persons or possessions matter to me the most? Why? If a tornado was encroaching to snuff out our home (not an unlikely scenario, experienced nearby on October 20, 2019) what would I take with me? My kids used to think I’d run with my computer first to the closet! I have since changed that value.
- Sources: In whom or what do I trust? Where does my source of security, purpose, and joy lie? Do I consider health and money as merely a means to a peaceful life or the sources of existential peace? How can I be sure?
- Relationships: In my relationship to people and things, how am I faring with covenantal responsibilities (i.e., to spouse), and those to whom I am connected genetically (i.e., kids, parents, siblings, etc.) and spiritually (believers, close and far off)?
- Goals: Are health and money the goal of my life? An acquaintance wondered at 35, “If money was not an object, what would I set out to do?” At 70, he noted, “Money is not an object anymore, and I still don’t know what to do!” He died in his early 80’s as a casualty of the West Nile virus in 2006.
- Habits: Are my principles, priorities, and practices of safety and money usually integrated? How do I deal with my own irrational thinking, incorrect believing, and/or impulsive doing in connecting these habits are ultimately important to us?
After replying, that friend returned the 2008 question: “How are you affected by the global crisis?” I shared the impact on churches, organizations and institutions. I see this global season as a deep time of ministry opportunity.
- Opportunity to repent personally and church-wide for self-centeredness and self-sufficiency, both sorely being tested right now.
- Opportunity to capture this moment of increased personal awareness of spiritual deficit in the deepest, fastest, and widest possible ways for ministry. At the highest levels, some of our leaders are posturing while others are acknowledging the limitations of intellectual abilities and capabilities. Let’s point them all heavenwards.
- Opportunity to help those who are worse-off than us, “to do good to all people, especially to those in the household of faith” (Gal 6:10). I especially think of our Christian family everywhere, especially pastors under terrific economic pressure, serving their congregations. Let’s give, and even live for the very best of many anywhere…everywhere.
P.S. A banker friend told me, “since most people are worth 30% to 50% less than they were a few weeks ago and are reticent to give, simply say a kind word and be there for the leaders of non-profits.” I am making it my goal to do just that in my sphere of Christian leaders, just like my friends have always been there for me. Thank you in advance and in anticipation for the gift of your online (J) presence. Feel free to reach me at email@example.com.
A full-length (5000 word) article “Testing, Testing, Testing… Sound Faith in Natural Disaster” will arrive, the Lord willing, in your mail boxes next month. The Lord is teaching me much and I share such learnings with you there, but now short videos/thoughts are posted daily at Wisdom and Peace Contagion