The Handy Dandy Fair-o-Meter comes standard on every human being. If you don't believe me, you just haven't been hanging out with kids enough. Poll your local daycare workers, and I think they will confirm that they hear the words "that's not fair" so often that, some days, they're afraid their ears will start bleeding. The Fair-o-Meter helps kids measure the tangible issues of their lives. Who got the biggest half of the sandwich. Who gets to sit by the window. Who goes first on the swing. Who leads the line to lunch.
I think the Fair-o-Meter is part of God's grand design of the human being. It makes us crazy as parents sometimes, but something important is happening when we pay attention and do our best to actually be fair to our children. We are teaching them that everybody matters. We're teaching them that THEY matter. That there is justice in the world. And when justice goes astray, they can speak up and make change.
God says this: "You are precious to me. You are honored, and I love you." (Isaiah 43:4b, New Living Translation)
In other words: we matter. We are people of value and incredible worth. And the handy dandy Fair-o-Meter lets us know when we've ended up in a place that says otherwise.
The Fair-o-Meter is part of the adult hardware, too. We might not say "it's not fair" out loud quite as much.
But we get irritated with other people who aren't doing their part, or who aren't appreciating us enough, or who cut us off in traffic. Or, on the opposite end of the spectrum, we fold into sadness and incapacity, like the little kid at the back of the line who's learned her voice won't be heard over all the yelling.
Either way, the Fair-o-Meter is trying to tell us something. The balance is off. And it's important for us to know when things aren't fair. God has more than enough for everybody--we know that is true. If we're feeling like there's not enough for us, something's wrong.
A while back I wrote about destructive entitlement, and "I deserve," and how ugly that kind of demanding behavior can be. But the answer to that is not "I don't deserve." We are precious, and honored, and God loves us. Clearly, we matter.
So what do we do with the Fair-o-Meter? When we're over our limits and past our boundaries and worn out and burned out and sad and exhausted? If "I deserve" is yucky, and "I don't deserve" dishonors God's love for me? Where do I go from here?
May we all stumble into the green grass of "I receive." The Shepherd of our souls has prepared a place of abundance for us that has nothing to do with "I deserve." It has only to do with his goodness and mercy.
I don't know about you, but my terrible tendency, for years and years, was to keep saying that I was fine, that I could keep going, and to push the provision away. In retrospect, it's completely crazy that I didn't want to receive, but there you go. The Scripture says, "He MAKES me to lie down in green pastures" (Psalm 23:2). Yup, that's me.
I want to march along in a straight line, thank you very much. I have an agenda! But God has a green pasture for me to wander around in. Still waters to lie beside. The table is always prepared, and an overflowing cup is always ready. Goodness and mercy are right here, every day of my life.
God help me to receive.