Adam Hamilton: Pumpkins and Jack-o-lanterns

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In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven. Matthew 5:16

“One day in a chapel service, some members of my church staff offered a wonderful and compelling illustration of how God works within us. They noted that in some ways human beings are like a pumpkin that is to become a jack-o-lantern. If you’ve ever picked pumpkins from the field, you know that no pumpkin is perfect. The task is to incorporate your pumpkin’s imperfections into the design you carve into it. You look at the pumpkin and begin to imagine what it can be. Next you draw on it a face of some sort. Then you come to the first step of actual transformation of the pumpkin, which is also the messiest. You open it up, and you begin to scoop out all the nasty, slimy, smelly stuff inside. Then you carve the face or design, which is no doubt a bit painful for the pumpkin. And, ultimately, you replace all of the muck with a light that shines from within.

This is a picture of what God intends: that greed and envy and materialism have been replaced, and that God’s light shines within us in a way that gives light to others. As we allow Christ to work in us, seeking first His kingdom and striving to do His will, we begin to sense a higher calling — a calling to simplicity and faithfulness and generosity. We begin to look at ways we can make a difference with our time and talents and resources. By pursuing good financial practices, we free ourselves from debt so that we are able to be in mission to the world. If God calls us to go or to do or to give, we can because we are free.

A key part of experiencing financial and spiritual freedom is found in simplicity and in exercising restraint. I am not suggesting we should never buy anything for ourselves. I am not suggesting we should not buy a new car or go on a vacation to buy new clothes or something else we might want. I am suggesting that, with the help of God, we aim to simplify our lives and silence the voices constantly telling us we need more; that we live counter-culturally by actually living below, not above, our means; that we build into our budgets the money to buy with cash instead of credit; and that we build in what we need to be able to live generously and faithfully.”

Adam Hamilton in Enough: Discovering Joy through Simplicity and Generosity (Nashville: Abingdon, 2009) 24-25.

It has been 12 amazing days of fruitful ministry and priceless fellowship in Manila with Anjji and Lynda Gabriel. My visit culminated with a trip to CCT Tagaytay Retreat and Training Center where the flowers were absolutely stunning (pictured above).

Shortly, I head back to Seoul for 4 more days to lead a church retreat for New Harvest Ministry before heading home. Thanks for your prayers as God graciously continues to sustain me and watch over my family back in America.

Back home it’s the time of year when people set out pumpkins to celebrate the fall harvest season. What a beautiful picture Hamilton and members of his staff paint for us in connecting the transformation of the pumpkin into a jack-o-lantern with what God does with our greed and envy and materialism.

What’s in your pumpkin?

If we liken our lives to a pumpkin filled with yucky patterns of overspending, self-indulgence, and foolishly storing up treasures on earth rather than in heaven, we cannot shine until we allow God to remove all that. Think of it this way: Generosity is not us doing things for Him; it’s allowing Him to do His best work, to shine through us.

God’s design and desire is to make us beacons of light that no longer exhibit slavery to money and all its stinky sins. Instead, when we make money our slave by avoiding debt, living simply, and giving generously, it positions our proverbial pumpkins to shine like jack-o-lanterns in a dark world.

Whenever you see a pumpkin this season, take a moment to ask God if there is anything needs to come out of your life so that, like jack-o-lantern, you shine brightly for Jesus.