“Freely you have received, freely give…”  Matthew 10:8 

It seems like everywhere I turn lately, I am reminded of the truth that it is more blessed to give than to receive.   I am reminded of it when I hear stories of complete strangers donating to people’s adoption funds to help kids like Isaac and Naoimi come home.   I see it in the hopeful eyes of children waiting for sponsors to be able to begin school (many for the first time in their lives).  I see it in small ways like the cashier offering to pay the $0.63 difference when the lady in line ahead of me didn’t have quite enough cash to cover her purchase… and in big, life-changing ways like families moving overseas to spend the rest of their lives giving all they have to feed, clothe and minister to the poor, the hungry and the sick.  

God has been prompting me right and left the last few months to give more freely — of my possessions, time and money.  I have found such incredible blessing following through and giving up things I didn’t necessarily want to part with, and volunteering time I didn’t think I could squeeze in, and writing checks for more than I logically should have.   It is an amazing paradox that the more you give, the more you are freed of unnecessary burdens and the more you have to give!  Its like the oil jar that doesn’t run dry as long as we don’t worry about having enough for ourselves…

I think some of the most complicated problems we face individually and globally boil down to simple truths that are chronically ignored:  “Love your neighbor as yourself” … “It is more blessed to give than to receive”  …  “seek first the kingdom of heaven”…

I’ve been reading The Irresistible Revolution by Shane Claibourne.  It has been a life-changing book for me in subtle and not-so-subtle ways.  In fact, I forsee an entire post on it in the future, but for now, it will suffice to say that it has rocked my worldview (in a good way! in a “re-evaluating my core-beliefs and how I live my life out of them” way…).  Peter and I chose early in our marriage to live a fairly simple lifestyle and have worked to give as much as we can and not live extravagantly… but this book just shook me in my utter selfishness and gave me a good, hard look at the Jesus I haven’t known, but have always longed for in the deepest parts of my heart.  Its a radical book in alot of ways.  And I admire the author for his radicalness — it challenges me.  I’m still processing some of it… I’ll be chewing some things for a while, I imagine!  It did confirm some thoughts that have been heavy on my heart the last few months…

 There were so many times growing up that I would feel such a weight on my heart for the orphaned and oppressed and I would cry out in frustration because I felt so helpless and so removed from the reality I knew existed not all that far from my comfortable life.  It has always been one of my deepest desires to someday move to a developing country and just serve…  But I’ve been coming to the realization the past year and it was reinforced through Shane’s book, that it is our heart posture more than our geographical location that God uses.  I can serve faithfully and give freely just as much in this season of my life raising my kids and growing my family here, as in the future if and when that dream comes true.  Sometimes we wait for the “ideal” circumstances to live out the call… when in actuality we can live it out every day in ordinary situations by making extraordinary choices and by saying ‘yes’ even when its daunting.   I can be so open and sensitive that I’m willing to follow God to streets of Calcutta if thats where He leads me… or to the floor of my living room, playing with and teaching my children to be ordinary radicals and not settle for life in the status quo.

I’m sure there is alot more internal transformation in store for me as I keep ruminating on the layers of revelation, but for now, the truth that has my full attention and awareness is the ‘freely give’ one.  The ‘sell everything and follow Me’ one…  The Big One –since it smacks against some of the most deeply engrained paradigms and practices in our culture and economy…  And then going beyond freely giving from my “extra,” but learning to trust enough to freely give even from my apparent lack, because this is when God is really able to pour out of His abundance and He gets ALL the glory!

I so want to teach these truths to my children. I want to impart to them the incredible joy of living a simple life… and the blessings of giving. I want them to realize the freedom in being content with ‘enough’ and the deep fulfillment in seeking to serve more than seeking personal success.  How do you teach kids this? Its so completely opposite from the “I want” attitude that surrounds everything they are exposed to in our culture. To teach them to be satisfied with enough and to impart true gratitude and generosity is a gift beyond anything that I could give them and a legacy I so deeply want to leave behind. And yet… I look at my own life, and even in all my awareness, and ideals, and the honest desire to “sell it all to follow Him,” I find that I still get overly-worried about where the provision is going to come from and I still lack the deep faith to really let go of it all… and really offer anything He might ask me to give. Even though I so deeply want to come to that place of absolute trust and absolute surrender…

Its like being on a roller coaster ride… and I didn’t realize when I got on the ride, just how scary it was going to be (which was probably a good thing, because I likely would have chickened out) but I also didn’t realize just how exhilarating and completely freeing it would be either!  And I’ve been around some loops already and over a couple little drops, but now we’re climbing up, up, up… and I can just barely see over the top of the next drop ahead and know instinctively its a doozy!…  and I’m half-excited and half-scared to death because I have no idea what its really going to mean to let go and give it all up.  Where will He take me?

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