While chatting in a friend’s backyard, I noticed a large number of flower pots. Some of the pots had full blooms — evidence of the care they received and their potential. Other pots were flowerless. They either contained dry soil or were empty.
The flowering containers were eye-catching. However, the other pots lacked appeal, or so it seemed. “The Have and Have Nots” is not just the name of a television show. In the case of the flower pots, it could be a name for this garden. But an evaluation of our lives goes far beyond what appears eye-catching or empty.
How would you describe yourself? Are you a have or have-not? I encourage you to continue reading before you respond. I explored this topic this past weekend while conducting a workshop at a prayer conference.
When our lives are full of what feels significant, contentment can surface. But if we’re waiting for a response to a need or the fulfillment of a longing, the “have-not” syndrome can sink in.
At the workshop I asked participants to check-off two lists – a list of what they “have” and a list of what they “have-not.” The same items appeared on both list (family, friends, health, career etc.). But each list also had a few blank lines. This allowed participants to include whatever was unique to their lives.
We then turned our attention to the “have-not” list, considering THE WHY, THE WARFARE and THE WIN of our unfulfilled desires. Here are some of the highlights from the workshop:
Pay attention to your tension. A friend shared this principle with me several years ago. Using stress as a signal, it flags me to consider “why” the tension is building over an unmet desire. Is it a need or a want? Is it because someone else has it? Is it for the glory of God or is it something that just seems good to me? The tension allows me to check my motives but it also allows me to check if I’m trusting God with the outcome. (See James 4:1-6)
Pay attention to your conversations. We examined Eve’s talk with the serpent in the Garden of Eden (See Genesis 3:1-13). This conversation is Spiritual Warfare 101. While many observations can be made on this passage, we discussed Eve’s failure to hear the “hiss” behind the serpent’s hello. Talks that tempt us away from what God says are talks that need termination, not consideration.
Pay attention to your expectations. Expectations are like tires. When they take us toward our desires we come along for the ride. When expectations deflate, we come to a halt. Eventually, we have to come to terms with the fact that everything and everyone is fallible — except God. Unmet expectations of ourselves or others registers as failure, but when our faith is in God alone we win.
Many factors can influence our perspective of being a have or have-not. If you are still uncertain of your status, here’s some good news: For the Christ follower, we can claim both. We “have” forgiveness of sin and eternal life in Christ, but we “have not” seen the fullness of His plan for our lives. It is the beauty of being the planting of the Lord and it brings an unending hope for the heart and joy to the soul.
“They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor.” – Isaiah 61:3b NIV
1 Corinthians 2:9