Yesterday we examined the importance of having a "storehouse" - the ability to "save up" for the days of leanness. God's storehouse has some always available resources for us: Good advice; Strength; Success; Direction; and Insight. We can access his storehouse at any time - making the necessary withdrawals. Yet, there is an importance of laying up for times of leanness in our own lives - things like Trust, Patience, Endurance, and even Faith. The blessings God distributes to his children are also things we need to "tuck away" in our storehouses: Unending Riches such as wealth, honor, justice, and emotional wholeness. Sometimes we only think of wealth in the sense of what we have in our bank accounts and investments - God thinks of wealth as what we possess in the way of relationships! Gaining the right perspective on what he prepares for us as "items" which "fill our storehouses" will help us to embrace them as they are provided.
So, my dear friends, listen carefully; those who embrace these my ways are most blessed. Mark a life of discipline and live wisely; don’t squander your precious life. Blessed the man, blessed the woman, who listens to me, awake and ready for me each morning, alert and responsive as I start my day’s work. When you find me, you find life, real life, to say nothing of God’s good pleasure. But if you wrong me, you damage your very soul; when you reject me, you’re flirting with death. (Proverbs 8:32-36 MSG)
One of the fundamental concepts about those who have full storehouses is their ability to remain watchful. They are constantly on the lookout for what is the best to "fill" the storehouse. Following Christ involves watchfulness - it is easy to miss the one who you don't watch for or after. It is easy to miss something which can "fill" you like nothing else ever will - just because your are neither watching "for" nor "after" what you have been given. One is expectation - the other is nurturing. We expect, so we watch "for". We want to preserve and have at the ready, so we watch "after" what we have been entrusted until it is nurtured into something of full value in our lives.
The concept of "watching after" what we are given in life is foreign to many. We live in a world of disposable everything - even relationships. The first relationship to watch over is the one we have with our Creator and Lord, Jesus Christ. If there is insufficient attention paid toward maintaining this one, all the others we work on maintaining will pale in comparison. The thing which keeps relationships strong is the willingness to nurture them. Nurturing requires some investment on the part of the individual within the relationship. Nurturing involves feeding - we have to "feed" any relationship. When we don't "feed" our bodies, what happens? We run down, don't think very clearly, and soon we begin to burn muscle / fat - reserves we have stored up against a "future day". The same is true in relationship - when we don't regularly "feed" it, we burn through the "reserves" we have built up within it!
Nurturing also carries the idea of protecting. We protect what we value, don't we? I have insurance on my car, not so much because it is the law, but because it gets me too and from everywhere I need to be. To be without it for any length of time, or to lose it completely, would place me in a position of having to walk long distances - something not very appealing to me! I "insure" my vehicle because I value the convenience of having this transportation. The insurance is a means of protecting this huge investment. The same is true in relationship - we invest in, watch over, and insure the existence of it because we value it. It has a "declared worth" in our hearts and minds.
Nurturing also speaks to the support and encouragement which is so desperately needed in times of growth and development. Relationships require support and encouragement as they move or transition from one level to the next. Nothing is easy as it applies to moving into a deeper and more meaningful relationship with God or another individual. Both require much support - both flourish when they are encouraged. We sometimes experience relationship "burnout" because we don't feel the support of another, nor do we sense there is any encouragement from the other to keep pursuing any depth within the relationship. At this point, what we do in our relationships with each other determines whether they will "last" or "split apart". Sometimes the difference is made is the tiniest bit of encouragement - even a glimmer of light is better than nothing at all.
What we have been speaking about today is something we might call development. We cannot be in relationship with anyone if there is arrested development - if development stops, there is a lack of continued growth. Where there is a lack of growth, there will be insufficient "supply" in our storehouses. To ensure "full" storehouses, we must focus on the development and growth of that which results in their "filling". Anything short of watching "for" and "after" those things which really provide for the ultimate "filling" of our storehouses is to neglect some of the greatest opportunities we are afforded. Just sayin!