Tuesday, February 15, 2011

One Week Left To Live

This just might be one of those vulnerable posts...
I hesitate to share for a number of reasons, but the one reason that I want to share is this...
I'm thinking, I'm not the only one.


There are plenty of things as I journey towards my Savior that don't seem so daunting to me... It's not all that hard for me to make it to church each week, to make cookies for a neighbor, to read the Word to my kids each day. But lately I have been asking Him to show me what area in my life I can release more fully to Him? What things Lord could draw me in even closer to you, Lord.

And truth be told I kinda knew what He might bring to mind. Because the thing that I have struggled with for years is... giving... yes, giving.
It sounds simple, and maybe silly... but for me it's this intense inner struggle that's at the forefront of my mind every time I go to the store, every time I pick up another shirt that I know I don't need but somehow desperately feel that I must have, every time the pastor stands at the front of the church and gently reminds, "the baskets are there, right next to the communion cross, if you'd like to worship through giving."

And as I stand there in front of my chair in the back row of the chapel, I have this conversation with the Lord nearly every week... "But Lord, how can I give when I feel like I don't have enough? How can I give when I'm wondering how we're gonna pay this bill or that bill? How can I give when work is scarce and there are four little mouths to feed morning, noon and night?

For the past few months I've been thinking about the woman who gave a penny. The woman who gave all she had.
I've been thinking about the rich man who wouldn't sell his possesions to follow Christ.
I've been thinking about Zacheas, and how when Christ went to his house, he not only paid back what he had stolen, he paid back four times as much.
I've been thinking about why it's so hard for me to give? What am I holding onto? Or maybe, what am I afraid of losing?

Joey and I have prayed through these things together over the past months and years.
We're great at giving our time, opening up our home, giving out of our abundance.
But giving sacrificially?
What is it that makes it so difficult for us to give when we know it will cost us something? If I'm honest with myself, is it that I don't believe that God alone is enough? I am a master at giving God what's left over after I have hoarded everything that I think I thought I "needed," but giving to Him my first fruits? How do I do that?

Is it wrong to buy myself something, here and there? I know the answer is no. But I have been deeply convicted for months, for years now, that I've been asking the wrong question. The better question for me is ,

"Why am I holding on so tightly to fear, when the God who owns the universe is my Papa?
Why am I afraid to sacrifice for the one who gave me His everything?"

He's the God who did not withhold His own son, simply so that He could be in a relationship with me... How then will He not also, give me everything I need for this life, and then some? And here I am, afraid to let go of the green and white paper that buys me countless things that will perish. I know somewhere in my heart that this world is fleeting. Nothing physical with last through eternity.

And yet somehow I still find myself buying into the materialism, the constant race for more, the lie that I'm poor and I don't have enough.

What it boils down to is this...
I'm dying to give.
And in the same breath, I'm afraid... afraid that I won't have enough.

In this heart of mine... I'm deeply convicted that I need to shake this... but I feel frozen... How Lord am I to move forward? You Lord, have whispered to this heart that the time has come to stop pondering and simply obey. Obedience, in and of itself is success.. is it not?

Then... in church this past Sunday, the guy at the front stands their bare and convicted in his own heart and he says,
"I just keep thinking, what if I had only one week left to live? How then would I love? How then would I serve?"

And then the conviction came again. And I knew I had to figure out how to give. I knew I wanted to share all that was going on in my head with my Joey. I often struggle with my words, struggle to get across all the thoughts racing through my head.

When Joey walked through the front door, he could see it all over my face...
"Are you okay, babe?"
"Ya, Do you have a minute?"
"Of Course... You alright?"
"Ya, Im gonna try to get this all out the best I can..."
I tried my best to get it all out... All the while in hope that he'll be on the same page... I'm in hope that he'll want to move forward in the practice of giving with me. He listened, offering that wild grace that he often offers.

We recently got our tax return. We both have our list of wants... things for our house, hobbies, travel plans, the like... nothing we need, only wants.

As I share with him, I tell him how I want to give out of sacrifice, I want to involve our kids in the giving.. teach them with our life not just our words... I don't just want to write a check... I wanna be involved with people, with their lives, with their hearts... I want to live the giving.
I tell him how I prayed the the whole car ride home from church, all afternoon while the kids were napping and I don't yet have any specifics but I know we need to start somewhere, and we need to start today...

He sits up in his chair and looks deep into me, tears streaming down my face because for me the conviction is deep... and he answers me in all sincerity ...

"Here's what we're gonna do...
Our personal lists, we put away for now.
We take that money, and we give.
I know the perfect family to bless...
We meet their need, no matter what it may be.
And with our kids... well...
We buy with the kids, we deliver with the kids, we chat with the kids, we pray with the kids. We teach the kids with our lives and not just our words.
God is faithful, he reminds me, and together we'll learn to give."

He holds out his arms and I sink into his chest... He understands, He's willing to come along side and help me to obey in the area that I'm most afraid. He reassures me of God's faithfulness... There's nothing to be afraid of... Perfect love cast out all fear...

On a Tuesday we're sitting around a plastic picnic table in Costco eating pizza with our treasures and we're all chatting about the giving. We're all laughing happy over the things that we get to put in the cart for someone other than ourselves.
So many times it's been us that has received. We know so well the joy of receiving.
And today, we're in the very very beginning of the learning in the giving.
And oddly, or maybe not even oddly at all...
AS a family, we find this unspeakable joy in what was supposed to be a sacrifice...
But really there was nothing sacrificial about it at all..
Instead we were the ones who received the gift.

The delivery... A family of six ringing the door bell... the door opens and all six voices shout at the top of their lungs, "JESUS LOVES YOU!"
And that's really the thing... It's all because of Him that anyone really gives up anything... He's the one who set the best example with His life.

Their Mama and this Mama wrap arms around each other. Two Mama's standing on the porch, tears running down both our cheeks. Two Mamas who have walked the same road of trusting deep in HIS provision, HIS timing, HIS love.
She whispers a tender thanks, and I assure her that all of it is just God's wildest grace raining down on the both of us... and we smile into one another because we both know it to be true.

We get in the car to make the trek back to the farm, the window is down, and my sweet Halee proclaims at the top of her lungs as we pull out of their driveway,
"It's YOU we wanted to give to! Do you know that Jesus loves you!"
She gets it.

When we pull in through our farm gates and see our little white farm house up on the hill, I can't help but think about this one life that I've been given.
What if this was my one week left to live?
How then would I love?
How then would I serve?