Boletim dos Obreiros

The Rope and the Bottleneck

I once read a chronicle telling about the great prowess of a tightrope walker who crossed the Niagara falls on a rope, pushing a heavy barrow full of cement. It was undoubtedly a great feat, given the great distance from one extreme to the other, bearing in mind the natural difficulties as well as the great turbulence existing in the open gap of the huge waterfall. Great publicity was given by the press because of the notoriety of the prowess.

When he finished the crossing, and still hadn't quite recovered his breath after the conquest of what many thought was impossible, the tightrope walker was abruptly accosted by a reporter who immediately tried to interview him so as to obtain a first hand report and to extol the author of such an accomplishment. .

During the interview the tightrope walker tried to show the confidence he had in what he did, and to prove it he invited the reporter to return with him to the other side, only that now the interviewer would be the cargo in the barrow. The reporter, scared at that assumption, left and disappeared among the crowd.

As you can see, it is one thing to talk about something which can be done, and a very different thing to believe in the person who will do it. That reporter believed in the fact, but he didn't have full confidence on who made it happen.

In a way we can asserted that this also happens with regard to missionary work. Many are ready to speak, to write, but when the time comes to "run the risk" they end up showing extreme weakness because of absolute lack of confidence in Him who told us not be anxious about the things of this life because our Father knows all our needs and it is His pleasure to give us His kingdom (Luke 12:29-32).

I praise God for those who accept the challenge, which to many is a "tightrope", and trustingly cast themselves in the career which the Lord has proposed to them and, by faith, without giving attention to natural anxieties, make the crossing of their devoted ministry, simply by the fact that they have courage to live by faith, not placing their confidence upon men or on human institutions, but only on the Consumer and Author of our faith, the Lord Jesus.

On their part, those who are not called for this "crossing", must live in the same trust that all that they own comes from God, for nothing which we have belongs to us, but to Him who graciously bestows upon us all things, together with the Lord Jesus, having in mind that we are only stewards of that which the Lord has placed in our hands.

It is here that the "tightness" of the "rope" isn't trusted! By trusting in the uncertainties of the possession of financial resources, whether abundant or scarce, the great truth is that many anguish about the things of this life. Many think like this: "if I release my material resources now, what will happen when I am no longer able to accumulate?" This is foolishness, says the Lord Jesus "… whose will those things be which you have provided? So is he who lays up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God." (Luke 12:20-21).

Apart from the Lord there are no certainties or rewards! "Under the sun" the race is not always of the swift, nor battle of the strong, nor bread of the wise, nor riches of men of understanding, nor favour of men of skill, but time and chance happen to them all, for man also does not know his time, or the occasion when calamity falls suddenly upon him. (Ecclesiastes 9:11-13).

In Ecclesiastes, the "Preacher" tries to show the failure of attempts to give significance to human existence from the experience of materialism, revealing his own experiences that hard work also does not bring satisfaction. Even if he were to work his whole life and struggled to know and carry out many things he would leave everything he collected to someone who perhaps never worked in his life! Besides being foolishness it is unjust. What does man receive as an award for all his hardship in this world? Many pains and sorrows, nights ill slept and full of anxieties. What an illusion, what a useless life, all is vanity, it is to run after the wind, asserts the wise man.

When he describes the failure of the experience of fortune, he concludes that He who loves silver will not be satisfied with silver; nor he who loves abundance, with increase; this is also vanity (Ecclesiastes 5:10). Covetousness is in fact idolatry, and is as pernicious as fornication, uncleanness, passion, and evil desire (Colossians 3:5). In his summing up the "Preacher" concludes: "Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is man's all." (Ecclesiastes 12:13).

Truly we ought to live by faith and not on the "tightrope" of the ups and downs of financial resources. We should never think of placing our confidence on the instability of riches, but in God who provides everything for our satisfaction, so long as we do good and are rich in good works, generous in giving and ready to share (1Timothy 6:17-18).

A remarkable example of this provision is found in Chapter 17 of 1 Kings, when Elijah appeared to Ahab, king of Israel at that time, and foretold before him that there would be a great drought and no rain nor even dew would fall during those years of his reign.

Of course, drought does not distinguish between people, it affects believers and unbelievers. It was more than evident that Elijah would also be hit by the shortage which was coming. However, he trusted absolutely on Him whom he served. The word of the Lord came to him telling him to go away from there to the brook of Kerith Ravine, where he would drink from the brook and be fed by the ravens.

So he did that and the ravens served his meals of bread and meat in the morning and in the evening, and he drank from the brook. While affliction was a cruel reality around him, there he was in the enjoyment of God's provisions. But if he were to trust only on the reality of what he saw before him, it could have been a great deception because, as the days went by, that brook dried up because there had been no rain in the land. And as it happens in our days with many people, who become exceedingly worried about the possibility of "drought in their monetary brook", Elijah could have despaired at that moment and lamented for not having made provision for what he needed when that occurred. This, however, would not happen to him because he was disposed towards hearing and trusting on the Lord who, in turn, wishes his servants to live exclusively and voluntarily in His dependence.

The Word of the Lord came without delay to Elijah, directing him to go to Zarephath, where a widow would supply him with food. I keep imagining what could have gone through our minds at that moment? What conditions were there for a poor widow to sustain someone for, certainly, she had no conditions to sustain herself more so because the extreme poverty installed in that region due to the long period of draught.

When trusting in the Lord, one doesn't argue, but obey! God carried out a great miracle there, of double portion, for not only did it sustain Elijah but also saved that poor widow and her son who certainly would be crying out to Him for help at that moment of great difficulty.

A life of faith leans exclusively upon the pledge and fellowship which are had with God. When Jesus and Peter had to pay tribute and had no money, He arranged the necessary provision through a fish; when a widow was close to selling her own children as slaves, God multiplied her oil for the rest of her life through Elisha; when the poor widow placed two small coins in the temple offering, all she had, she certainly did it because she believed in Who had the power to open the windows of heaven and pore blessings without measure; when at the beginning of the primitive church material needs exacerbated, servants like Barnabas appeared who disposed themselves to contribute liberally, generously and voluntarily so that there would not be a scarcity of resources for that Work to develop and come throughout the ages to us and we might come to know and receive Jesus as our only, true and sufficient Saviour.

You have surely heard or read about the two bottles with different bottlenecks, which are used to illustrate the manner in which God rewards those who are generous towards His glorious Work, but we can repeat it here. Imagine two bottles full of sand, one with a wide bottleneck and the other with a narrow bottleneck. When they are turned upside down, the one with the wide bottleneck will obviously be emptied faster, whereas the other will be emptied "economically". Some people say that the majority of believers are like the one with the narrow-neck, that they do indeed contribute, but not in the abundance that the Lord desires. .

Now imagine the reverse! Just think of yourself pouring the sand back into the bottles. The one with the wide bottleneck will fill quickly, whereas the one with the narrow bottleneck will take far too long and there will be a great waste, for a good part of the sand will fall outside the bottle and the operation will have to be repeated many times until the bottle is completely full. So are the blessings of the Lord, he who gives liberally, abundantly, will have more added to him, for the generous soul will prosper, whereas he who holds back or is slow in giving, will suffer loss as he will be prevented from experiencing in his life what the Lord has prepared for him still at the present age (Proverbs 11:24-25).

Beloved brother, our life ceases to be a "tightrope" at the measure in which we trust exclusively in our wonderful God, who with Christ gives us graciously all things we need (Romans 8:32).

Let us therefore be like the bottle with a wide bottleneck so that the reciprocity from God may be abundant in our lives, don't only think of the "outgoing" of the bottleneck, but trust upon the "incoming" which becomes abundantly suitable in the measure in which our bottleneck becomes wider. Be, therefore, generous in your gifts to the glorious Work of our Lord, for this is pleasurable to God. May God allow this to be so!.