Excerpted from "Your Best Life Now" with permission of Warner Faith.
Years ago, before transatlantic flight was common, a man wanted to travel to the United States from Europe. The man worked hard, saved every extra penny he could, and finally had just enough money to purchase a ticket aboard a cruise ship. The trip at that time required about two or three weeks to cross the ocean. He went out and bought a suitcase and filled it full of cheese and crackers. That's all he could afford.
Once on board, all the other passengers went to the large, ornate dining room to eat their gourmet meals. Meanwhile, the poor man would go over in the corner and eat his cheese and crackers. This went on day after day. He could smell the delicious food being served in the dining room. He heard the other passengers speak of it in glowing terms as they rubbed their bellies and complained about how full they were, and how they would have to go on a diet after this trip. The poor traveler wanted to join the other guests in the dining room, but he had no extra money. Sometimes he'd lie awake at night, dreaming of the sumptuous meals the other guests described.
Toward the end of the trip, another man came up to him and said, "Sir, I can't help but notice that you are always over there eating those cheese and crackers at mealtimes. Why don't you come into the banquet hall and eat with us?"
The traveler's face flushed with embarrassment. "Well, to tell you the truth, I had only enough money to buy the ticket. I don't have any extra money to purchase fancy meals."
The other passenger raised his eyebrows in surprise. He shook his head and said, "Sir, don't you realize the meals are included in the price of the ticket? Your meals have already been paid for!"
When I first heard that story, I couldn't help but think of how many people are similar to that naive traveler. They are missing out on God's best because they don't realize that the good things in life have already been paid for. They may be on their way to heaven, but they don't know what has been included in the price of their ticket.
Every moment that we go around with that 'weak worm of the dust' mentality, we're eating more cheese and crackers. Every time we shrink back and say, "Well, I can't do it; I don't have what it takes," we're eating more cheese and crackers. Every time we go around full of fear, worry, anxiety, or we are uptight about something, we're over there eating more cheese and crackers. Friend, I don't know about you, but I'm tired of those cheese and crackers! It's time to step up to God's dining table. God has prepared a fabulous banquet for you, complete with every good thing imaginable. And it has already been paid for. God has everything you need there-joy, forgiveness, restoration, peace, healing-
whatever you need, it's waiting for you at God's banquet table if you'll pull up your chair and take the place He has prepared for you.
You may have gone through some great disappointments in life or faced some serious setbacks. Welcome to the real world! But you must remember, you are a child of the Most High God. Just because something didn't work out your way or somebody disappointed you, that does not change who you are. If one dream dies, dream another dream. If you get knocked down, get back up and go again. When one door closes, God will always open up a bigger and better door. Hold your head high, and be on the lookout for the new thing that God wants to do in your life. But don't go off in the corner of life and start eating cheese and crackers.
You may have gotten off to a rough start in life. Perhaps you experienced horrible poverty, despair, abuse, or other negative things during your childhood. You may be tempted to let those negative experiences set the course for the rest of your life. But just because you started life that way doesn't mean you have to finish that way. You need to get a fresh vision of what God can do in your life and develop a prosperous mind-set.
My dad had to do something similar. Daddy grew up with a "poverty mentality." That's all he had ever known. When he first started pastoring, the church could pay him only $115 a week. Daddy and Mother could hardly survive on that little amount of money, especially once my siblings and I came along. The most dangerous aspect of their life, however, was that Daddy had come to expect poverty. For a number of years, he wasn't even able to accept a blessing when it came.
During a time of special services at the church, although our family barely had enough food to get along, my parents hosted the guest minister in their home that entire week. The following Sunday, a businessman in the church said, "Pastor, I know you cared for our guest speaker in your home all week. Things are tight, and I realize you can't afford those extra expenses. I want you to have this money to use personally, just to help you out." He handed my dad a check for a thousand dollars, tantamount to ten thousand dollars today!
Daddy was overwhelmed by the man's generosity, but he was so limited in his thinking at that time, he held that check by the edge of the corner, as though it might contaminate him if he clutched it any tighter, and he said, "Oh, no, brother, I could never receive this money. We must put it in the church offering."
Daddy later admitted that deep down inside, he really preferred to keep the money. He knew that he and Mother needed that money, but he had a false sense of humility. He couldn't receive the blessing. He thought he was doing God a favor by staying poor.
Daddy later said, "With every step I took as I walked to the front of the church to put that check in the offering, something inside was saying, Don't do it. Receive God's blessings. Receive God's goodness.'"
But he didn't listen. He reluctantly dropped the check into the offering. He later said, "When I did, I felt sick to my stomach."
God was trying to increase my dad. He was trying to prosper him, but because of Daddy's deeply imbedded poverty mentality, he couldn't receive it. What was Daddy doing? He was eating more cheese and crackers. God was trying to get him to step up to the banquet table, but because of Daddy's limited mindset, he couldn't see himself having an extra thousand dollars.
I'm so glad that Daddy later learned that as God's children, we are able to live an abundant life, that it is okay to prosper; that we should even expect to be blessed. Indeed, it is as important to learn how to receive a blessing as it is to be willing to give one.
Maybe you have come from a poor environment, or maybe you don't have a lot of material possessions right now. That's okay; God has good things ahead for you. But let me caution you; don't allow that poverty image to become ingrained inside you. Don't grow accustomed to living with less, doing less, and being less to the point that you eventually sit back and accept it. "We've always been poor. This is the way it's got to be."
No, start looking through eyes of faith, seeing yourself rising to new levels. See yourself prospering, and keep that image in your heart and mind. You may be living in poverty at the moment, but don't ever let poverty live in you.
The Bible says, "God takes pleasure in prospering his children." As His children prosper spiritually, physically, and materially, their increase brings God pleasure. Your lot in life is to continually increase. Your lot in life is to be an overcomer, to live prosperously in every area. Quit eating the cheese and crackers and step into the banquet hall.