Scarcity Mentality vs. Abundance

Janet Grant

Blogger: Janet Kobobel Grant

Your work and mine centers on the written word, right? And we suffer from no lack of words. But we do seem surrounded by the discouraging reality that much is scare in our world:

  • Time to write
  • Available publishing slots
  • Creativity
  • Unique ideas
  • Marketing dollars

On this Labor Day weekend, I’ve been thinking about the scarcity mentality and how it binds us up from reveling in our work. As we tick off what’s lacking, I believe we should counterbalance those points with where abundance lies. That would be with God.

Nature: A Riot of Richness

Several decades ago, I sat in a publishing committee meeting awaiting my turn to present projects. But first Julie Link, a fellow editor at Zondervan, was summarizing a manuscript she hoped would receive thumbs up all around the table.

The book’s concept was that nature trumpets, over and over again, about how God doesn’t have a scarcity mentality. He’s all about abundance.

The author pointed to the ridiculously high seed count most plants produce. Sure, a certain failure rate is bound to occur, but do dandelions really need the dizzying array of pinwheel seeds that just one each flower produces? And what of a single pomegranate, that vast globe of seeds?

If we think of the riot of colors in nature, we have to wonder if God might have gotten a bit carried away. Wouldn’t the basic tones, without all the variations, be stunning enough?

And what of the amount of fruit from a single tree? Anyone who has fruit trees realizes just how many “seeds” hang on a single branch, let alone the entire tree.

We haven’t touched on how many insects God decided the world needed. Really, God?

By the time Julie finished with her presentation, I was fairly breathless with enthusiasm for the book because the writing was as exquisite as the magnificence of the thoughts.

Sad to say, the decision-makers didn’t agree with Julie (and me) that the book held important reminders of the lens through which we as believers should view life. We have no need to be fearful hoarders, but as children of an extravagant God, we have in abundance all that we need.

The Message of Abundance Reverberates

While the committee said no, note that I’m recounting the book’s contents decades later. I never forgot about that book.

Oh, wait, that’s not true. Actually, I forget about that book and its message all the time. I regularly fret over the inadequate supply of all that I need or want.

God caught me up short a few weeks ago, reminding me of the scarcity mentality vs. abundance. I was reading Psalm 78 when I came to this question: “Can God set a table in the wilderness?”

To put the question in context, the verses before portray the Israelites during their journey to the promised land. The psalmist says of them, “They tested God in their hearts, demanding food for their craving. They railed against God and said, ‘Can God set a table in the wilderness?'”

I picture them sneering as they pose the question. It’s a challenge to God, not a paean to his provision.

The next verse makes me smile, as the Israelites concede, “True, he struck the rock, the waters gushed out, and the gullies overflowed.” They already had seen that God’s provision was more than they could consume.

Despite this “minor” concession, the Israelites continued with their challenge to God in the next part of the verse: “But is he able to give bread or to provide meat for his people?” The tribe seems eager to point out God’s deficiency, as if that were something to relish.

In response, God sent manna to them, which is described in this way in the psalm: “He…gave them grain from heaven. So mortals ate the bread of angels…”

He also “rained down flesh upon them like dust, and winged birds like the sand of the sea.” Abundance beyond imagining!

The Surprise in the Story

But here’s the kicker: If you’re picturing a long-suffering God providing for his people, you have it all wrong. For Psalm 78 specifies that their churning need for MORE and MORE and MORE unaccompanied by faith filled God with wrath. The psalm describes them as having “no faith in his wonderful works.”

Their challenging, dare-you question, Can God set a table in the wilderness, caused him to burst forth with manna, meat, and birds. A feast fell from heaven. It was so much more than they could have imagined. They might have hoped for  a bit of bread for each person to gnaw on to take away the hunger. A scarcity mentality causes you to think small, you know.

Turning the Question on Itself

As I read this Scripture passage, I decided to intentionally stop small thinking but to challenge myself to believe big. So I’ve posed that core question to our Father, “Can God set a table in the wilderness?” But my tone isn’t derisive, it’s full to overflowing with hopefulness and praise. If he responded to the Israelites, who endlessly challenged him, with such abundance, what might he bestow on someone who envisions a festive table so laden with provision that the boards bend? Now there’s a question to ask!

What other thoughts about publishing and writing reflect a scarcity mentality? What questions would a writer who believed big ask?

Author, Check Your Online Presence

Mary Keeley

Blogger: Mary Keeley

When your book proposal interests agents and editors, the first thing they’ll do is investigate your website, blog, and social media activity. That’s why it’s so important that each area of your online presence compliments the others …

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