“All we have is…”

I was in the Rocky Mountain National Park Visitor Center looking for the 100th anniversary poster that my wife had seen at a friend’s house. Not seeing it, I asked the check-out clerk, and she responded, “All we have is that picture there,” pointing to a large framed 100th anniversary picture. “Ours are smaller, and they are right on that shelf.” Of course, it was exactly what I was looking for.

I’m just trying to figure out why she said, “All we have is that picture there,” instead of saying, “Yes! We have exactly what you want! It’s a reproduction of that picture there. Isn’t it fabulous?” I experienced the same type of response visiting a church one Sunday. It was a downtown church which shared a two-level parking garage with another organization. When I pulled in, the parking usher said, “All we have is parking on the second level.” Not, “Good morning! Welcome to our church! There’s plenty of parking up on the second level!”

Is it that some folks just have a negative mindset? Or a “nothing is ever enough” mindset? Or, and maybe this is it, a habit of focusing on what we don’t have rather than on what we do have? “Yes, we have the kind of poster you want, but it’s only one style and comes in only one size.” “Yes, we have parking on the second level, but, if you’re like me, you’d rather park on the ground level, and we don’t have any spaces there.”

Or maybe I’m the problem. I have a negative mindset, a “nothing is ever enough” mindset, and the habit of focusing on what we don’t have rather than on what we do have. The Visitor Center had the poster I wanted. Why am I critiquing the verbiage of the person who showed me where it was? The church had parking and a person to direct me to it. What’s the issue?

The disciples were a bit negative in the feeding of the 5,000. “All we have are five loaves of bread and two fish,” they said. (Matthew 14:17, MSG) But Jesus ignored their commentary, “What are they for so many?” (John 6.9, ESV) He didn’t stop to critique the disciples. He just put them to work as ushers (“have them sit down in groups”), food servers, and bus boys (“clean up the fragments”).

Maybe I should focus more on doing what I’m supposed to do and less on critiquing. Or, to put it another way, especially since I’m on sabbatical right now, maybe instead of always “weighing in” on issues, real or perceived, I should practice “weighing out.”

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