Are you, like many grandparents, caught in the middle? Being pulled in two directions? Even though we have learned to trust God’s provision, sometimes we still want more. More opportunities. More responsibilities. And, yes, more stuff. Other days, we want less. Fewer distractions. Fewer responsibilities. Less stuff to take care of and worry about.
Maybe we’re experiencing a personal tug of war because we’ve done so much, but still feel we have much to do.
We’re out of balance, either energized or exhausted. Confident or reluctant. Feeling nostalgic or envisioning the future. Spiritually in tune or entertaining doubts.
Allow me to introduce you to Agur.
It’s really okay if you’re not familiar with him. But he’s the guy inspired by God to unscramble this exact conundrum. As the author of Proverbs, chapter 30, Agur’s commonsensical approach to life and his strangely amusing chapter reveal how you already might be in the center of God’s will. That’s a wonderful place to be. Especially for grandparents who are often called to represent the past, but be cheerleaders for the future.
Allow me to spell out the challenge. Our goal is to balance the wisdom and experience gained over the years with the imagination and hope necessary to lead and encourage the next generation?
Agur prays a simple prayer—and the only prayer found in the Book of Proverbs. At its core this verse is about finding balance.
“Give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread.”
Proverbs 30:8 (NIV)
What? you say. Moderation? That’s not on anyone’s checklist, especially in the twenty-first century. When it comes to material possessions—and many other areas of life—we are living in an age of extremes.
For most people, bigger will always be better. More house. More car. More closet space. More shelves for more trophies. More activities. More responsibility so you can gain more of the above.
On the flip side is another extreme: a subculture of people—even entire communities—who are choosing to live as minimalists. Maybe you know people who are mildly obsessed with cutting up credit cards and clearing out clutter. It’s not unusual for seniors to eschew the latest gadgets, stick with simpler technology, and limit their wardrobe to fewer items. Their expressed goals include napping more and living 100 percent debt-free. They are conspicuously moving into micro apartments and tiny homes.
Some social scientists suggest that the practice of minimalism is a response to the unabashed consumerism that exploded after World War II. The men and women who grew up in the Great Depression and lived during World War II came to be known as the greatest generation. When they started their own families, these men and women were the first to buy televisions, second cars, and houses in the suburbs. Suddenly “faster” was ubiquitous, as evidenced by the introduction of interstate highways, commercial jet airlines, direct-dial telephones, and fast-food restaurants.
Don’t be mistaken: that generation—our own parents and grandparents—was not motivated by greed. For the most part, they were all about building a better life for their families. Quite nobly, they wanted their kids to have and achieve more than they did growing up. Unfortunately, they couldn’t anticipate the consequences of their ambitions.
Any student of recent history will tell you—two or three generations later—evidence reveals that bigger, faster, busier, and pricier might not be better. Without listing the multiple ways society is broken, suffice it to say it’s not uncommon for bigger, faster, busier, and pricier to lead to heartbreak and despair. When we consider the ramifications of overspending, overconsuming, and overindulging, there is ample justification for the minimalist mind-set.
Still, Agur is not endorsing minimalism. Nor is he suggesting that wealth and influence define success. He endorses neither fast nor slow, big nor small, fancy nor simple.
Our endearing friend Agur has identified a sweet spot: the perfect balance of getting what you need and needing what you get. He sums it up nicely: “my daily bread.”
Reading these words written in the days of Solomon, any of Agur’s peers who heard this prayer would instantly connect this request for “daily bread” to the daily manna God had provided to their ancestors as they wandered the desert for forty years as described in Exodus. Manna appeared once a day, provided by God in just the right amount at just the right time.
In the twenty-first-century, we recognize the phrase “give us this day our daily bread” from the Lord’s Prayer, delivered almost a thousand years later by Jesus in His Sermon on the Mount.
The words are comfortable, and we nod our heads. Yes, Lord, please meet our daily needs.
The thing is, that’s not what Agur prayed. He added the word only, introducing an entirely deeper level of trust in the One who provides. In the midst of the push and pull of your life, might you have the courage and fortitude to profess Agur’s prayer? “Give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread.”
That prayer for balance – harvesting only what we need – will serve us well as we demonstrate our trust in God to our children and grandchildren.
We trust in His unconditional love. We trust in His perfect provision. We trust that He will work out all things for our good. We trust there is a time for every season. We trust in His plan for our lives. The next generations need to see us living out that trust. Living in God’s sweet spot. A life of balance. Living in “… a spirit not of fear, but of power and love and self-control.” (2 Timothy 1:7 ESV)