Cross Rhythms website editor Heather Bellamy is a regular contributor for the local Sentinel newspaper's weekly faith column, Yours Faithfully. Each week a different leader from the local faith communities write the column. Check out what Heather has been saying to the fine people of North Staffordshire.
As I look back at 2008 and look forward into 2009, the key words for me are credit crunch. Having been a teenager the last time there was a sense of recession, my personal journey is very different now facing it as an adult and feeling the weight of responsibilities and consequences.
I don't know about you, but even Christmas was different this year. We decided as family not to exchange gifts, as it just felt like an obligation to fulfil, which would be foolish in such tight times. Somehow this was liberating and not depressing though. There was a great sense of freedom to not have to buy things we really couldn't afford. As my sister said 'what's important is that we're all together'.
All change can be scary, but through this shaking in our nation, I believe we can also find a place of being 'happy scared'. Although some pain is inevitable, the same feeling we get when we spring clean and everything feels fresh and full of space, we can feel when our lives are stripped back to what really matters.
I don't believe that life is found in the accumulation of 'things'. Even though material stuff does give fleeting pleasure, it quickly wears off and we find ourselves buying or wanting something more. When do we have enough?
Well I recently watched a short documentary on the internet about finance, which really helped my understanding. Have you ever asked the question, 'what is money'? What this timely documentary showed were statements from past bank managers and presidents alike challenging the financial system, revealing that there isn't actually enough money in the world to pay back all the debt, and showing how so much of our 'money' is nothing more than debt! Not a great system to build our lives on.
We are all feeling that sense of insecurity, not knowing how deep the recession will go or what company or institution is going to be rocked next. It is sad to see brands that we've grown up with disappearing but I believe it's important for us to enter the New Year with a sense of hope and not just foreboding. Not hope in failing systems being held up, or hope in finance, but hope on a surer foundation. Hope in a living God who never changes and is much bigger and stronger than everything else we've built our lives on; a God who wants to be our foundation in life.
As I've followed Jesus through difficulties, I've discovered real abundant life. I've met a God who isn't limited by physical circumstances; whether I have a wage or not He is my Provider and He's never let me down. Over the years, Jesus has never ceased to amaze me with His Fathering. While He has taught me things through lack, He has also given plenty to me at times too, far beyond what I could have hoped or imagined. Following Jesus isn't about prosperity or lack it's about relationship and building on the secure foundation of Him. Jesus is BIGGER than money!
I don't know whether you're a praying person or not, but as we enter this New Year, here is a simple prayer you might chose to pray, a prayer prayed by the great Biblical Psalmist David who knew great personal hardships, but also knew a faithful God: 'Hear my cry, O God; listen to my prayer. From the ends of the earth I call to you, I call as my heart grows faint; lead me to the rock that is higher than I.'The opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those held by Cross Rhythms. Any expressed views were accurate at the time of publishing but may or may not reflect the views of the individuals concerned at a later date.