I loved reading questionnaires in magazines to figure out my personality or decorating style. So much fun. Today's blog starts with a quiz to see if you have ever "fallen short"?
Have you ever finished last in a race or not even entered the race because you might not finish?
Have you ever been late to an event or a meeting?
Have you ever had to pay an overdue fine at the library?
Have you ever started baking something and realized you were missing an ingredient?
Have you ever been left out of of a celebration?
Have you ever failed to fulfill a goal?
Have you ever felt physically or mentally depleted?
Have you ever had insufficient funds to buy something you really wanted or needed?
Have you ever struggled to find the right words in a situation?
If you answered yes to any of these questions- you will be able to understand the meaning of the Greek word hysteréō meaning "I am lacking, fall short, suffer need" Properly, at "the end," i.e. coming behind (to "be posterior, late"); (figuratively) coming behind and therefore left out; left wanting (falling short). 5302 /hysteréō ("failing to fulfill a goal") means to be in lack and hence, unable to meet the need at hand because depleted ("all run out"). This state of lack (insufficiency, privation) naturally results when a person misses out on what is vital.
If we are honest with ourselves we all have places in our lives and times that we have been lacking. At one time or another, I could answer yes to everyone of these questions. Just last month I had to text my neighbor Wendy with a last minute request for some sugar because I had started to make a cheesecake and didn't even have a cup of sugar in the house! I had insufficient resources and was lacking. The writer Paul uses this word in Romans 3:23, "All indeed have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God." I think Paul knew a lot of good people who wouldn't identify with the concept of sin but were well aware of places they were lacking.
After thinking about this list of questions, I realized I spend a lot of time and energy avoiding situations where I might come up short. My cabinets are stocked with essentials so I don't run out, I keep a cushion in my bank account and even have an automatic notification set up if the balance falls below a certain point. I have never entered a marathon because I don't want to fail and I set goals I am 90% certain I can achieve. Though I try to avoid feeling like what I have is insufficient, it still creeps up on me. Hearing about a party I wasn't invited to, realizing I have to save a little longer for something I want, or finding out that I forgot something important leaves me feeling less than.
While I work hard to avoid being in situations where I won't have enough or be enough, I have friends who have actually embraced their constant need for more. They are on the treadmill of want. They focus on their lack, their insufficiency and missing out and it drives them to try harder. There is never enough _______ in their life. They seek more time, clothes, house, career, friends, achievements, cars, and money in a never ending cycle of insufficiency. Once they get the new item, it becomes obsolete. Once they finish a race, they are training for the next one. This need for more isn't determined by how much or how little you have. I even think this was a problem a rich young leader had who asked Jesus how to have eternal life. Jesus answered him with this advice, "You still lack one thing: Sell everything you own and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow Me.” Luke 18:22. Jesus identified though this man was materially rich, he was still in a state of lack. Driven by a need for more. Feeling inadequate in spite of affluence.
My friends tend to be people who make good choices, work hard and as a result are successful. They are doctors, engineers, executives, writers, teachers and good tennis players. They understand that what you do and the choices you make have good and bad consequences. Because they have made mostly good choices and have been successful, they don't connect with the Christian idea of being a sinner. They look around at people who call themselves Christians who have not been successful and have made lots of dumb choices, and think "I am not anything like them." Paul must have known people like my friends because right after he wrote that all have sinned, he added that all have fallen short of the glory of God. He wanted to make sure that even good people, who didn't connect with the idea of being a sinner, understood that they were lacking and had fallen short of the glory of God. We are created in the image of God to reflect His glory; our insufficiency is evidence of our need.
Next time you find yourself in a place of insufficiency, when you have fallen short and come face to face with your inadequacy, see it as a chance to assess your heart just like taking a personality test in a magazine.
Are you depending on your own resources and abilities rather than depending on the unlimited grace of God?
Are you always trying to protect yourself from inadequacy and lack rather than realizing we are created to reflect His glory not hoard it for ourselves?
Are you are on the treadmill of want always pushing harder and defining your life by what you don't have rather than using what you have to bless others?
Are you focused on fear of not enough you or fear of God?