May 2, 2021

5th Sunday of Easter

“My grace is enough; it’s all you need.” ~ 2 Corinthians 12:9 (The Message)

What does enough feel like or look like? Do we ever feel like we just cannot do enough? Or do we ever go to bed at night and say, “Today was sufficient, full, and complete,” and we sleep deeply, full of contentment.

Do we feel like we cannot spend an ample amount of time with our children or our friends? Can we do enough to support our aging parents? Do we ever have enough money, enough time, or enough energy to get things done? Every time we cross something off our “to do list” we add two more things. Life becomes a desperate attempt to always catch-up.

Wayne Muller says, “No matter how strong our hearts, or how good or kind our intentions, each day the finish line seems farther away, the bar keeps rising, nothing is ever finished, nothing is ever good enough.” So, like the little red engine that said, “I think I can. I think I can,” we keep chugging up the mountain hoping to get over the top, but we never do. There is always another peak to climb.

How much is enough? How do we know when we have done enough work?

Our daughter, Andie, has been working for AmeriCorps the last two years. She is living below the poverty level, but she is doing fulfilling work supporting underserved kids in the Sacramento public school system. She hopes to work for a nonprofit next year such as Loaves and Fishes where they serve the homeless or the Lutheran Support Services which assists families in need.

One job is part-time (25 hours a week) but pays a decent hourly wage. Andie said, “I’ve done the math, and I think if I’m careful I could make it.” I responded, “No you can’t. Twenty-five hours a week is not enough work. You won’t make enough money to survive.”

“I’ve done the math, Dad. I’m making it on less money now.”

What is enough? How do we know if we have it? How do we know if we have done enough work for one day?

Muller presents several scenarios. Have we done enough when we collapse from complete exhaustion? Is it when we get so tired and irritable that we blow up at our spouse, kids, or loved ones? Is it when the clock strikes a particular hour? 5 P.M.? 6 P.M.? Is it when we finish replying to all the emails in our inbox?

How do we know when we have taken on too much? Is it when we get sick? When we start making too many mistakes? Do we worry or fear if we stop to rest someone might think we are lazy? Not carrying our weight or we might get left behind? Do we make a promise that we will stop and rest when our desk is clear, all our emails are answered, and no one needs our time? This never happens, so we just keep going.

Can we ever live a life of deep sufficiency, enough? Can we ever do enough, love enough, help enough, so we can just stop and say, “I’m good.”

“Many of us carry old familiar voices of judgement or dismissal, voices that remind us of our inadequacies, shortcomings, and failures.” Regardless of how much we do, how much we love, or how much compassion we show we always feel like we should have done more. We should have done better. “If we remain convinced that we are essentially defective or incomplete, we can never do enough,” says Muller. We will continue to claw and fight and try to save the world to prove our worthiness, but there is always more to do.

In 2 Corinthians 12:9, God says to Paul, “My grace is enough. It’s all you need.” Sufficiency is the moment when we have enough, and desperation is gone. We lie down in green pastures, the Spirit leads us beside still waters, and restores our souls (see Psalm 23:2-3).

When, if ever, do we have enough?

This past Friday, I visited an old friend who returned to Mancos to pass away in a familiar place with her loving daughter by her side. The three of us often have spirited, argumentative discussions about God, religion, and politics. We agree to disagree. We were having such a disagreement when Thelma (not her real name) became noticeably quiet and reflective.

“Would you preside at my memorial service?” Thelma asked me. “I’d love to,” I said. “It would be an honor. But, you know, that means I’ll get the final word.”

Thelma, I, and her daughter all laughed and laughed.

“Each breath we take is a gift… each moment of life is a grace,” author unknown. It is enough.

Blessings and peace,