This week is my birthday. I remember thinking that the best way to approach life was to figure out the rules and follow them. I tried that for a long, long time.
Ironically, I always wanted to be loved for who I was, unconditionally, but I approached God as though this life were some sort of legalistic negotiation. Somehow I figured if I lived reasonably well (exceptionally well if you gauged it by some people) life would not be allowed to throw me any curveballs I couldn’t handle.
I even approached my relationships this way.
I would meticulously meet every standard that anyone would expect.
When the other party would become exasperated with me, I could point at my spotless record and become indignant. Hadn’t I done what was asked? Hadn’t I done what was expected? Required? I didn’t deserve to be treated this way!
Have you seen the flaw in the little girl’s reasoning?
It’s taken me a lifetime to see it. When I finally figured it out, that little purse and matching socks & gloves were long gone.
God didn’t just want my compliance. He wanted me to yield to Him with a full heart. He didn’t want me to constantly be flinching as I served Him fearfully. God, and anyone else who is loved, wants to know that His lover delights in the loving – not that she is running down a checklist of requirements.
Of course, knowing this didn’t make everything automatically right. I did what I had always done and looked within myself to try and generate the right attitude. If He said, “Fear not,” then surely I’m capable of not being afraid. Right?
He was asking me to give Him something I didn’t have. I didn’t possess the fearless abandon He demanded. I didn’t know how to run after Him. He went places I didn’t know how to follow. Then, He wasn’t pleased when I faltered in my uncertainty. I tried. I pasted on a smile and worked SO HARD to be what He wanted. He knew my heart and was patient, but I could tell I was overlooking something . . . . something that was basic. I just couldn’t figure it out.
Then, it occurred to me. Every time God asks us to give/do something, He seems to make it so big that we can’t find the resources within ourselves. He gives us things to do that are larger than ourselves so that we learn to look to Him for the need. It is in Him that we find the supply we need to do the thing that pleases Him most. Who else could teach us about how to love freely and with abandon than the One who set the world in motion and then went about the business of reconciling us back to Himself?
The little girl in the photo has something that would remind her later of this lesson. You see, every Sunday they would pass the collection plate around the little Bible class. Her daddy wanted her to learn about giving, but she didn’t have any money of her own.
Do you think that toddler became frustrated and fretful over how she could accomplish the task of giving when she had nothing to give? No. Not one single moment did she concern herself with such a thing!
She just reached into her little purse each Sunday and gave the dime her daddy had put there. She knew he would. He always did. He supplied what she needed to give what he required.
That’s my greatest birthday gift.
At every cliff-hanging moment in my life when I KNEW it was too much, too big, more than I could ever . . .
If I remembered,
I knew I could stop and look to my Father.
He always placed within my hand and my heart the things I needed to be able to offer what was required. All it took was the time to trust that He is all He said He would be . . . and more.
It’s been a breathtaking journey. He has been more patient with me than I have been with myself. He has endured much for my sake. There are not words to express what I feel, but He sees my heart now. He knows He is my delight; He is my supply.
that he understandeth and knoweth me,
that I am the LORD
which exercise lovingkindness, judgment,
and righteousness, in the earth:
for in these things I delight, saith the LORD.
according to his riches
by Christ Jesus.