Growing up, I was taught that resources are limited and to come by them is expensive. Paying for things was a necessary evil in life and expense should be avoided at every opportunity. I was taught that life was against me and provision was a struggle I was constantly going to toil for.
My mom was raised by responsible, frugal parents who knew the value of delayed gratification. My dad grew up without a dad and had to work really hard to provide for his sister and himself.
It's obvious how the idea that money is scarce came into my value system but my family didn't teach me this. My parents certainly are responsible for introducing me to the idea of lack but the real culprit who showed me all the ways scarcity was in charge wasn't a person, it was a spirit.
Poverty is a spirit. Poverty tells us that there isn't enough and if we're not careful, we will be without and then we will die. When you're young and impressionable, you don't know any better. It's difficult to recognize evil, even if you can feel it, and thus not know you have permission to resist it. Another challenging thing about evil is it appears helpful when we don't know the truth.
For me, poverty helped me secure resources and ensure that I wouldn't go without. I didn't go to college after high school because I didn't know who I was and spending the exorbitant amount of money on educating myself in a direction I wasn't convinced I even wanted was not worthy of my consideration. Do I regret not going to college right away? No. But a decision informed by lack is not one I'm proud of.
God took me on a radical journey that landed me in Redding, California. A strange place with an even stranger community of believers who were so different from what I knew. I put out applications and submitted my resume to 65 different jobs in Redding before I even moved there and didn't get ONE call back. I was shocked and nervous.
By the grace of God, I moved without having a secure job in place. I had $4,000 in the bank and after two weeks in Redding, I had a serious conversation with God. I was literally afraid that I wouldn't find a job, I would run out of my hard-earned money, become homeless in Redding and then die. This is obviously irrational but there's nothing rational about believing evil.
The spirit of poverty tells you that you have to sacrifice and go without in order to get what you want. A lot of “successful people” who rose out of poverty and fought their way to a higher level of consciousness boast in their struggle and sacrifice. They take pride in the little and big ways they went without in order to gain what they deemed successful. This is still operating under poverty's influence and even their success only points to the validity of their agreement with lack.
The thing that helped them rise out of difficult circumstances wasn't sacrifice, it was vision for something better; they believed their situation could change and hope got in their veins. It wasn't their pain or sacrifice that changed their circumstances, it was faith. The sacrifices along the way were the price they paid to maintain their agreement with hope.
As I write this, I'm on a plane in Heathrow about to fly back to San Francisco. I missed my previous flight to Oakland the day before and wouldn't be able to fly out until the next day. The old me, still submitted to poverty, would have just spent the night at the airport to save the money.
But I don't listen to poverty anymore. So I bought a deluxe package at a four-star hotel close to the airport which included a shuttle to and from the airport, dinner, a nice hotel suite, wifi, and breakfast in the morning. It cost £315, about $430.
Before I left the U.S. on this trip, I wanted a certain novel to read on my flight over. I owned the book but I was in San Francisco and the book was in my home in Redding. The old me would have just counted it as a missed opportunity and moved on. But I don't listen to poverty anymore. So I bought the same book I already owned at four times the price I paid for it originally. I read it on the flight over and don’t regret it one bit.
Am I suggesting that being careless with finances and obeying our impulses is the way to go? Of course not. I'm well acquainted with sacrifice and hard work.
What I'm suggesting is lack comes from evil and agreeing with the spirit of poverty will never allow you to be who you were created to. We cannot reason or strategize while poverty has a voice in our command center. We must wake up to the reality that the kingdom is abundant. We are worthy of love and it's poverty that convinces us our well-being is inferior to our resources.