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More Reflections on The Island Trip

Two phrases stuck me as I interacted with the students I taught and moved in and out of the city where we stayed.

The first was "the wealth of poverty." Simplicity simplifies life, and there is a place for fewer things when it comes to our relationship with each other and God. If you don't have a cell phone, car, internet access, and don't own a car or your home, you have a bit more time to spend with family and friends.

If you find yourself with little and you have no status, resource or recourse, or wealth, it may be easier to worship the God who has provided what you have and who has given any hope you may have. The wealth of poverty is that things of this earth free you to worship the things of God.

The second phrase applies to my culture of origins, and that is the "poverty of wealth." By all world standards we are among the wealthiest people on the planet. Transport your land, house, and stuff in it (including the garage and attic), and you will be among the top percent of most people groups. With that wealth comes distractions of the care and feeding of all the stuff along with acquiring more of it.

Wealth makes me feel independent of others and challenges my need for God in any form. Wealth makes me compare myself to you and compete with you for more things, which means status in our culture.

Would I trade my "wealth" for their "poverty?" In a word, no. But, I must realize that my potential for poverty of soul is as great here with all my stuff as it is there. Should I simplify my life so I can know more of the wealth of friendship, family, and church? You bet! Should I steward my wealth to serve the needs of those with less? Absolutely! Must I always caution others about how stuff distract them from the most important things in life? Yes!

I will cherish what I learned about the "wealth of poverty" from those who had less than me in some ways and much more than me in other ways.