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Words of Abundance

Your Host, Randy Petrick
  • Writer's pictureRandy Petrick

HOW I DISCOVERED I WAS A FOOL

Updated: Apr 6


Dark brown goat all tangled up in the rope which had been used to tie him to a post.

I used to feel pretty successful. I felt God had given me a sound mind, energy, and the opportunities and resources to live a good life. I had been a serious student and teacher of wealth accumulation for over 40 years.


Much of my life has been devoted to studying financial topics, obtaining my Series 6 license, becoming a Chartered Financial Consultant, and even a Retirement Income Certified Planner. I loved teaching financial classes (and still do!) and have built a reasonable abundance of possessions.


That seems like life right on track, right? Well, I thought so too until the day I ran across The Parable of the Rich Fool (Luke 12:13-21 NIV):

The Parable of the Rich Fool

13Someone in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.”


14Jesus replied, “Man, who appointed me a judge or an arbiter between you?”


15Then he said to them, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.”


16And he told them this parable: “The ground of a certain rich man yielded an abundant harvest.


17He thought to himself, ‘What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.’


18 “Then he said, ‘This is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones and store my surplus grain there.


19And I’ll say to myself, “You have plenty of grain laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.”’


20 “But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’


21 “This is how it will be with whoever stores up things for themselves but is not rich toward God.”

Rich Toward God

Rich toward God. I needed to think about that phrase. Had I been rich toward God? Was I now? I wasn’t even sure exactly what that meant! I knew I had always tried to be generous to others who crossed my path over the years, but had I been rich toward God? I wasn’t sure.


From the parable, it seemed that being rich toward God was the opposite of storing things up for oneself, the opposite of greed. Jesus, it seemed to me, was commending a life lived from a paradigm much different than the worldly one focused on having an abundance of possessions stored away for an easy life of “eat, drink, and be merry.”


The day the phrase “rich toward God” entered my mind, I realized I was a fool, too. Like the “fool” in the parable, I had lived a life primarily devoted to accumulation and felt pretty good about that. But now? My paradigm took a hard U-turn. God began leading me toward a much different life.


Suddenly, I knew the life I thought I wanted and the life I had been actively living wasn’t fulfilling at all. Through the parable, I realized God was encouraging me to live a life fully surrendered to Him, to serve Christ as Lord, to steward His property actively, and to practice generosity beyond the norm. I realized I wanted to live a life of surrender and stewardship, but it wasn’t what I had been practicing.

Two crossed arms with fingers extended as if to push something away.

Moreover, I also began feeling that God wanted me to start writing about my journey. Really? Now, that was terrifying! The thought of such an endeavor filled me with fear, self-doubt, and trepidation. How could I honestly and genuinely write about a life I hadn’t been fully living? “Trust Me,” was God’s answer. “I will continue moving you into that life as you go.”


“Continue?”

It took a while, but suddenly, that sneaky little word “continue” finally crept into my consciousness. And, of course, God was right! Fifty-six years had passed since I became a Christian, but only then did I finally realize that becoming a Christian is just the first step of an ongoing journey. For some of us, taking the next step is the journey of a lifetime. Chuck Bentley, in The Root of Riches, talks about “the next step” this way:

To be a Christian means believing in, trusting, and accepting Christ as Savior. Every Christian does this. It’s the next step, however, where so many of us falter: serving Christ as ‘Lord.’

Servanthood (surrender) and generosity were the areas where I needed to grow. How could it have taken me fifty-six years to finally realize that surrender is the main event when serving Christ as Lord? I had no idea. But my belated realization caused me to change direction and take some ginger steps on a new path.


I’m continuing to learn and grow, and as I’ve been growing in my ability to surrender, I’ve discovered something exciting: Increasing levels of generosity seem to be a natural byproduct of a surrendered life and just naturally come when we move into our intended roles as stewards.


Surrendering and stewarding. Neither promise to be easy journeys, but at least I’m on the path.


Tall pine trees paralleling a dirt road which fades into the distance in the hazy filtering sunlight of late afternoon.

PLEASE GRANT ME GRACE IF I WOBBLE

I’m learning to let go of what I used to consider “mine” and consider everything “God’s.” And I’m trying to obey Him when He prompts me how to manage and (especially) disburse His assets. So, I pray you will grant me grace if I wobble: My path is a road still under construction. I can’t always see clearly what’s ahead, but I can see the sun shining in the distance. In the meantime, I am eternally grateful to serve a patient and forgiving Lord.


PS: If you are further along the path than I am, leave some big, bright markers along the trail, will you? I’ll accept them with gratitude.



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