As some of you may know, I recently celebrated my birthday as I turned the ripe old age of fifty-five. Now, I know that this may not seem old to some of you that have reached greater milestones in your life, but for some reason this birthday above all the others has caused me to do a great deal of reflection.
I guess you can say that it all began following a sermon I shared a few weeks ago, after which one of our members suggested that I read a book titled Scarcity. Now, allow me to pause for a moment to say that one of the best things about serving at Sligo is that someone is always telling me about some interesting book that they are reading or have recently read. And because our congregation is diverse in so many ways, you can imagine that this would be reflected in what is being read as well.
The book Scarcity, as its subtitle suggests, examines the condition of Why Having Too Little Means So Much. The authors Sendhil Mullainathan and Eldar Sharif have written this book based on their cutting edge research from behavior science and economics, and they reveal that “scarcity”, having less than you feel you need, can have a tremendous impact on one’s behavior, sometimes for the better and other times not.
One of the basic premises of the book is that whenever we experience “scarcity” in a particular area in our lives, it then becomes hard for us to focus on anything else. For instance, if you have an impending deadline that is about to run out to accomplish an important task, it then becomes difficult for you to spend your time thinking about anything else. Or if you are experiencing extreme hunger and have no viable options of getting food anytime soon, then it becomes extremely difficult for you to focus on anything other than what you lack, which may cause you to miss out on other important things at the time, such as “hearing the gospel.”
This brings me back to my recently turning fifty-five. Because I have conceivably already lived more years on this earth than I have left, the scarcity of what remains has caused me to rethink the rest of my life, however long or short that might be. Because when you think about it, as we say so often in the church, these are my “last days.” And since I have fewer days remaining, shouldn’t I be more determined in my heart to live them not pining for more, but instead being content to living them with less: that is, less of me and more of Christ. And when you look at it that way, it’s no longer living a life of scarcity but it’s living life with true abundance (John 15:5).