Friday, November 8, 2013

What, if anything, in this life is Free?

In today's political debates there is much discussion about goods and services that are provided for free to those in need. It is often pointed out that nothing in life is free. This is correct. Those goods and services are often bought or created by the sweat of someone else's brow. Naturally, the debate continues that such Robin Hood style governments are corrupt. It is neither Just nor Merciful to unwilling take from the worker and give to the slothful.

One such discussion I recently had was riddled with other complexities. One being that my husband and I will be of no use to the Lord during the Millenium because our chosen trades are run by the government. Surely, without this Robin Hood style corruption we would be paupers, begging for every morsel.

This accusation naturally led me to ponder on the beauty of our summer vegetable garden. I may have also been led to ponder our garden because after such accusation was made the kids and I went and raked pounds of fallen leaves into our garden for composte. Either way, I've pondered our garden a great deal these last 24 hours.

Gardens are a beautiful thing. They give so much for so little effort. Sure the soil used to plant our garden is not free. We are slowly buying it from the bank that holds the title on our home. The seeds were bought from a local hardware store. The fence, needed to keep the rabbits away, was painstakingly built with love by my husband and father-in-law. The garden did not come to us for free. But planting a simple seed and watching it bloom into life giving nutrients is one of the world's greatest reminders that God is the one who gives us all we have.

God, in His infinite love, has created this Earth, with all its bounty, for His children. God, in an out pouring of mercy, has given us His Son. The sacrifices He and His Son have made allow each of us to return to God in glory if we so choose.

A few weeks ago in one of the Sunday youth classes I was teaching a quite observer in the back asked to pipe in. This humble leader of our local congregation pointed out that often Mormons call one of God's greatest gifts "free agency." This man, who I admire, taught us that our agency isn't given to us freely from God. Our agency was bought and paid through the suffering of Christ. He explained that a better term would be "moral agency."

Nothing in this life is free.

It all comes from God, the Creator. Much of it was bought or created by the sweat, even the blood dripping sweat, of Christ. Even as Ben and I earn our living from the sweat of our brow, the money we earn is not ours. And despite popular belief, it is not the tax payer's money either. It is God's. All things are God's. The garden materials we bought from the bank and the store, even the labor we performed with our own bodies, these things are not ours. They are God's.

So yes, anytime anyone receives any good or service for "free" there is Someone, Somewhere, who is paying the price for that good or service.

Several weekends ago my children and I had the pleasure of going to a neighbor's orchard, planted right in her own backyard, and picking apples from a few of her many gorgeous apple trees. I used these apples to make many pints of apple sauce for my children. I personally do not like apple sauce, but my children love it and therefore making it in large batches for family food storage is a joy to me.

I am so thankful to this neighbor, who provided her goods and services for free, to me. But what I'm most grateful for is the loving smile with which she provided them. When we arrived at her house she was busy making apple pie fillings, but she quickly put her work on hold and showed me to the apple picking ladder. She then helped Reid pick a few of his own apples, and even cut some slices up for Nell. When we filled our bucket she insisted we take more. All with a warm smile on her face. As we prepared to leave she took time out of her day to show Reid some hidden treasures in her yard. Her kindness was beyond measure, and I certainly haven't done enough to thank her.

Who am I to feel that all the plants that bloom in my garden are mine? That all the apples that grow on my young trees are mine? Who am I to think that every dollar I earn in labor is mine, to be kept for me? I pray that as my own orchard grows and as our family garden replenishes each year I can be like my neighbor, and I can give the fruits of my labor freely and happily to those who are willing to come.

I do not have the answers to solve such complexities of Robin Hood style governments. I only have answers for myself. In the future when those debates turn to discussions about how nothing in life is free, I plan to always remember Who it is that truly gives us everything. I hope I can always give, by force or by choice, with the same love my neighbor rendered to me, the same love the Savior renders to us all.


Anonymous said...

This is wonderful Liz. I also don't think it's fair to equate being poor to being slothful. I've known a lot of "poor" people who are incredibly hard working.

Scott and Claudia said...

Love this scripture which reminds me of your post! "and also, ye yourselves will succor those that stand in need of your succor; ye will administer of your substance unto him that standeth in need; and ye will not suffer that the beggar putteth up his petition to you in vain, and turn him out to perish.

17 Perhaps thou shalt say: The man has brought upon himself his misery; therefore I will stay my hand, and will not give unto him of my food, nor impart unto him of my substance that he may not suffer, for his punishments are just—

18 But I say unto you, O man, whosoever doeth this the same hath great cause to repent; and except he repenteth of that which he hath done he perisheth forever, and hath no interest in the kingdom of God.

19 For behold, are we not all beggars? Do we not all depend upon the same Being, even God, for all the substance which we have, for both food and raiment, and for gold, and for silver, and for all the riches which we have of every kind?" Mosiah 4: 16-19 May we all remember in the end whom we are all totally dependent on. May we also remember we will be judge only by our works and our works alone.
Great post sis!!! Well said and a great way to vent your frustrations. And when we go to hell for being democrats at least we will be together!

Scott and Claudia said...

There are those of us who are poor of wealth and those of us who are poor of spirit. You my dear may be poor of wealth, but you are ever so rich of spirit.

Remember to rise above those around you who seek to weaken that rich spirit you are blessed with. My wise father often said, "It is not good to debate religion or politics. The outcome is seldom positive."

Love, Pa

P.S. Now I'm off to read what the bruhaha is all about!

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