Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Generosity: receive and reflect

I love to listen to her song, especially in church.  She was once so sick I thought she would be silenced forever, but now, she stands beside me healthy, for no reason except the undeserved mercy of God. And she sings. She receives what He gives with delight and innocence, and she replies with song, even when she doesn't quite understand the words.

One day we sang "God moves in mysterious ways."  She sang those words, then she whispered to me, "You mean like this?" and she shook her hips and waggled her arms right there in the pew.  I got the giggles for the rest of the service. 

Last sunday in church we read about Elijah and the widow 1 Kings 17:7-16

As I listened to the widow's story, I kept thinking with amazement how she must have emptied her stores, every single day, and found them refreshed again the next day, every time.  What was that like?

I imagine the first time she made the cakes, she probably ate with mixed feelings.  Faith moved her to mix the dough, and to share, but faith does not extinguish all wrestlings, all human feelings and worries.  She may have yet wondered if this was really her last meal.  She may have second-guessed herself, wondering if she should have said no, should have held something back.  She may have wondered if God would really keep death away. Would He really fill the jars again? Would He really provide as He promised?

On the second day, I imagine she made the cakes with more confidence, with less fear, and a not little bit of joy.  It is amazing, when God provides. It is a joy to be His child, to be given something unexpected, free, and exactly what is needed in the moment.

Did she come to expect it? Did it get easier to trust God as He proved His faithfulness to her, time and time again?  Did she open her hand gladly, knowing that whatever she shared with one hand would soon enough be given back in the other?

Her story reminded me of Grace upon Grace, when Dr. Kleinig implores us to live lives that "receive God's goodness and reflect His generosity."

Receive His goodness,
reflect His generosity.

How's that for a mission statement for the Christian life?

What does this look like, exactly?  When I read those worse, I think of my most unusual child: the extremely generous one.  This child loves a bag of Skittles, but more than that, she loves giving Skittles away. She loves making money, and she spends it all quickly, but on the most undeserving of her siblings, and rarely on herself.  A bag of Hershey Kisses makes her happy if she eats them, but not near as happy as she feels when she leaves kisses on our pillows in secret.

Her smile comes to mind, every time I think of "cheerful giving."
You know what else?  She is also amazing at the art of "cheerful receiving."

When God gives a spring day for bouncing on the trampoline, she bounces, and sings, too, and notices the flowers and the blue sky and the birds, and she thanks Him for it.  When God gives her chocolate milk, she drinks it down to the last drop.  In church, she sings hymns with loud voice and full heart.  

Fill up, give thanks, pour out, give thanks, repeat. 

This is the example of the widow, and my daughter, and so many others who live generously.

This is the life of faith, the freedom we have as children living under an open heaven, we who are loved by a generous God.  He did not spare His Own Son; surely He will provide for all of our needs. There is no need to hold back in fear. 

Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ 
or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 
For the Gentiles seek after all these things, 
and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all.
Matthew 6:31-32 

And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 4:19 

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