The lady who authored the book was herself the mother of twins. JUST twins. She had Baby #1 and Baby #2 within minutes of each other, and that completed her family. These were her first children (not a lot of motherhood experience already under her belt), and her last. So maybe her perspective was a little different from mine.
I still remember three things she said were essential to surviving the arrival of twin babies:
1.) I must hire someone to help with household cleaning, errands, etc.
2.) I must locate a local grocer who took orders and made home deliveries.
3.) I must have a resource list of mail-order suppliers for things like clothing.
The author was emphatic about these three items- she assured me that I would NOT survive twin babydom if even one of these things were missing.
Great, I thought, I'm doomed. You see, I didn't have the money to pay a housekeeper. Or, even if I could have afforded it, a grocery store nearby that delivered. Our clothes came from thrift stores, and I was fairly confident they didn't have any kind of "mail order" department. If this lady didn't think she could survive twin babies, when all she had was two babies, how in the world am I going to survive having six babies when the twins arrive?! Her book was written to be helpful and encouraging. Instead, it triggered fear, despair, and an overwhelming sense of inadequacy.
Well, my babies did not postpone their arrival simply because I was unable to hire domestic help. And, yes, that first year would've been MUCH easier with the "essential" things the writer had listed. Steve and I often refer to that first year as The Dark Fog. Overworked. Sleep deprived. Barely scraping by. Life. Was. Crazy.
But you know what? We survived. And I learned a whole lot that year about trusting God for everything from diapers to a relatively functional degree of sanity. Well, maybe that last item came and went a little. Anyway, seems like the most difficult seasons are when we learn most certainly the sufficiency and mercy of God.
So, why am I writing today about my twin babies (now beautiful, delightful teenagers)? Because I think the modern church is often guilty of "encouraging" believers in the same way that mother-of-twins "encouraged" me many years ago. Here are a few examples I've encountered recently:
*A church-sponsored youth conference - excellent teaching, awesome music, exotic location, certain to be faith-strengthening - if your teen can swing the $400+ to attend.
*An excellent book, written by a Christian for married couples, containing the exhortation that you must seek professional counseling if you're dealing with a problem like _______.
*A women's fellowship, promoted as a "dress up" affair. (All women enjoy a reason to get dressed up, right?!)
These are three examples from my own experience; maybe you have others. The things listed aren't bad. But they contain the subtle, unintentional message that in order to experience many of the blessings of the Christian life, you are going to need some dinero. Muchos dinero, perhaps. And that can be so discouraging to a believer who lacks the resources to participate. Will I miss God's blessing by not traveling to Colorado with the other teens? Will my marriage be able to survive (never mind prosper) if we can't afford counseling? Will it make the other ladies uncomfortable if I wear my "good" jeans to the Tea?
Scripture promises believers that God will provide all our needs (Philippians 4:19). Maybe not all our wants - like a housekeeper, or diaper service, or a week-long Bible conference on the beach - but He will provide all our needs. As we address needs in the church, we must point each other first and faithfully to Christ and His sufficiency, being careful to avoid the appearance of attaching a price tag His work.
We know that God loves us. Christ intercedes for us. The Holy Spirit indwells us. The Word of God, which we hold in our own hands, is alive and relevant and powerful, able to make us competent and to equip us for every good work (1 Timothy 3:16). These rich truths apply to every believer, regardless of station in life.
Christ's church is comprised of such a variety of people - different races, cultures, income levels, personalities, histories. We are free to enjoy the wonderful blessings He gives each of us, but we must be careful not to make the spiritual blessings appear contingent upon the material. Christ embraced the poor, the sick, the weary, the sinful, the unattractive, the incompetent...embraced them, welcomed them, and made them His. His is NOT a middle class Gospel.
Come, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and he who has no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price. Isaiah 55:1