We scraped the old jam jar into the new one, tipped the last remaining drops of shampoo into the nearly-finished bottle of conditioner. We rolled the toothpaste tubes so tightly they punctured at the seams and we superglued the broken china. Nothing went to waste. I grew with the motto etched deep into my spirit, Waste not, want not.
So if my husband's role in ensuring we would not live a life of want was to work a sixty-hour week and bring in the most hefty income possible, it seemed my part was simple, old-fashioned better home management. I should shop carefully, spend wisely, and above all, ensure nothing was frittered away. After all, our lack of want depended on our lack of waste.
I must say, I never did all that well at it. I always seemed to forget something on my shopping list, and end up driving back to the store again. I would buy a dress for the girls, only to realise that it wasn't such a bargain after all if they had no shoes to go with it. I'd still end up with shriveled veges in the fridge at the end of the week, and still find us leaving lights on in the middle of the day. I felt guilty about the waste, and I believed our future ease depended on my present diligence.
But I had accepted a lie. It's a lie because it only relates to the physical world.
And though it often holds true here on earth, at least to a point, I'm not made to live within the limitations of this world. The really true thing is: There's another, more real, world, and it's spiritual. It's where I belong. It's my Home Country, and now that my citizenship is not of this earth, but is there, I live by the laws of that place. In the heavenlies, the principle relating to lack and want is this:
So we had just sold everything - the leather couches and the bunk beds and the kitchenware, and even the clothes. None of it had retained much value after all. And then we landed in Turkey. We needed to start again, and we had to settle quickly. Our family of six don't thrive in limbo. Within a week, we needed whitegoods, linens, light-fittings, curtains, rugs, beds . . . the list was overwhelming.
I didn't know which shops had well-priced goods, and whether local products were of better quality than imports. I didn't realise that there were markets only a few blocks away that sold fresher produce at half the price. I didn't even know that buying a bus card turned out to be more economical than paying cash. I didn't have ten words of Turkish to try to bargain with. I got exchange rates horribly confused. And I was too tired to do better. If only I'd known that His provision was not dependent on my good management.
And then, in the midst of it all, the Lord, keeper of the resources of heaven and earth and all the swirling universes, whispered the truth into my heart. The Lord is my Shepherd. I shall not want.
And streams of grace flowed, and the whole thing was turned upside down and bathed in lavish kindness, because He - the one I loved and longed for - was telling me that I would never be in want simply because He was my Shepherd. Not because I did such a good job of household management. Not because I got every decision right when everything - language, culture, exhaustion, just being female in a suddenly male-heavy world - conspired to help me get it wrong.
The burden fell away. My spirit, tight from years of measuring and portioning and calculating and controlling, was freed. I didn't want to live anymore according to the stifling, guilt-inducing presumptions of this world. I want to be a woman who feels the freedom of His world. My Father's world! The world where supply is endless, given lavishly from a heart of unbridled love, and where I receive with simple joy and honest gratitude.
And in this world, the spiritual world, the reality is that there is a table lavishly spread and a cup that overflows. He wants me to see there is always plenty in His home, and that I don't need to stretch it or keep it for another day, for he will be my Shepherd tomorrow too.
'Lord, I come to You for a renewed mind. I reject the words that belong only to this earth -'Waste not, want not' - for my life and the life of my children. They only bring pride for all our thrift, or guilt for not doing a better job of it all. At the end of the day, it's only more effort, more of me . . .
You call me to live according to the pattern of another world - the world I was created for - a world where works count for nothing, and faith for everything. A world where striving ceases. In Your presence I now take hold of the freedom and blessing You desire. I take words that acknowledge Your bountiful heart and Your endless care. Teach me to live free, because You, Lord, are my Shepherd, and for that reason alone, I shall not want.'