The Burden and Responsibility of Excess

heres-a-woman-biking-with-baskets-to-sell-in-a-market-in-myanmarWhen you reap the harvest in your field, and you forget a sheaf in the field, do not go back to get it. It is to be left for the foreigner, the fatherless, and the widow, so that the Lord your God may bless you in all the work of your hands. When you knock down the fruit from your olive tree, you must not go over the branches again. What remains will be for the foreigner, the fatherless, and the widow. When you gather the grapes of your vineyard, you must not glean what is left. What remains will be for the foreigner, the fatherless, and the widow. Remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt. Therefore I am commanding you to do this. (Deuteronomy 24:19-22)

Be less stingy. Be more generous.

What can you share today? Space in your home? Your car? Your wallet?

We live with excess, yet we constantly try to scoop it all up and carry the load in our pockets and aprons.

 

Treat Others Like You Want…

Luke6-31Treat others as you want to be treated. It’s as if we ask ourselves, “If I was in their situation, I would want…” but it is so much more.

First, what we want isn’t what someone else necessarily wants. We might prefer to be left alone in a situation when someone else craves interaction and company. We might want someone to teach us how to do something when someone else prefers to have someone else do it for them even if it costs them.

Second, doing for others as you’d want done for you isn’t just about putting yourself in someone else’s shoes; it’s giving needs away. It’s humbly setting ourselves aside. When we lessen ourselves, our needs become less, too. We don’t meet our own needs by filling the gaps we have but by filling someone else’s gaps. We set aside our trust in our own assessments of what everyone needs and our ability to meet those needs, and we simply and generously respond.

What do you need now?

Patience?

Mercy?

Forgiveness?

Compassion?

Assistance?

Understanding?

Company?

Give it away.

You’ll be amazed at how giving away what you most need will fill you, too.

When All You Have Is Enough

28983400348009a2312d7f61db01556eAll you have to give is more than enough…when your all is for God.

He makes up the difference when you offer what you have completely for Him. It becomes His to use in whatever way He knows is best. It might not end up perfect. In fact, it rarely will. But it will always be better than what we offer on our own, because God adds and multiplies, stretches and ripples. He weaves and purposes in ways we can rarely see or understand. If we only offer what we have when we understand, we do not trust God as fully as we can, as fully as He desires.

When we do, there is a peace in the uncertainty, comfort in the struggle, purpose in the fragments.

Take all that you have, put it in your hand, and hold it open, inviting God to take what He wants to use, give what He knows you need, and set aside what is only taking up space in your life.

Have you ever wanted to go to Israel?

What’s stopping you?

More important, why is it stopping you?

How is what you have “not enough”?

Are you certain it’s not enough?

Here’s what happened the last time I led a group to Israel…

We received a list of items need by Bridges for Peace, where we served in Israel.

  • New baby clothes
  • Children’s toys
  • Toothbrushes
  • Backpacks for kids for school
  • School kits (pencils, erasers, crayons, glue stick, scissors, pencil sharpener, etc.)

We gathered as much as we could pack, and we lugged around our extra suitcases for the first several days until we began serving. We combined our bags and packed them on the bus. We rolled them into the building where they would sort, store, and distribute the items, and we started unpacking.

11.4.14 Bridges for Peace (5)

 

Little by little, those working and serving at Bridges for Peace that day came to see what all the commotion was about. They found an explosion of suitcases as we filled bins.

And they had tears in their eyes.

We started with a list, but what we didn’t know was donations were down because of the change in airline baggage fees.

We didn’t know they had been out of baby clothes for three months.

We didn’t know the baby clothes we had brought were enough for six months.

We didn’t know they had been praying for provision and witnessed God’s answer.

They cried for joy, hugged and thanked us.

11.4.14 Bridges for Peace (23)

We cried, too…partly for joy, and partly because we wish we had known. We wish we had done more.

It was pretty easy to gather items, pack them, and roll them on and off our planes and buses. What we thought was “not much” was an abundance for those in need.

Yes, we could do more, but what we did was…something.

Look around. You are surrounded by needs in your home, church, community, and world. You can’t solve every problem or meet every need, but you can do something. Don’t let “not much” stop you. It might just be more than enough.

And don’t let your “not enough” stop you from exploring the possibilities of journeying and serving in Israel. Space is limited, so we can get to know each other well and serve and travel well. Click here for more information.

When Serving Hurts and Humbles

I was a small part of serving hundreds of families thousands of pounds of food so they would have the opportunity to struggle a little less through the holidays. Many came together to organize and serve, and I loved the face-to-face moments with people who were so appreciative. They came through with a variety of needs, some I could identify and others I couldn’t. But what I saw wasn’t a group of needy people; I saw individuals who had their own stories and lives. I tried to meet their eyes with encouragement and affirmation. So many wanted to pour their gratitude into me. I had many sweet interactions.

What surprised me was that I didn’t know but a handful of people who came through the line. It really bothered me. I wondered what I was doing wrong that I wasn’t coming in everyday contact with more people in need. How could I alter my routines to see more needs? It’s not that I never find people in need. It’s not that I don’t pause long enough to help people in a variety of ways. I’m not complacent, but I suddenly felt as if my routines were insufficient to see the needs that surrounded me. As I finished up the day, I sat in my car humbled and saddened, yet so full of joy for the opportunities and interactions of the day.

On the way home, my husband called to let me know our electricity was out. I had done the grocery shopping the day before, so I had a full refrigerator. Although my first thought was how important it would be to try to save the food, I quickly checked my attitude and priorities. So many people don’t have a warm home or a running refrigerator. Many people who had received food didn’t know how to prepare it. I began to think about whether or not they had spoons to stir or knifes to cut meat. I wondered if they had flashlights to see in their dark houses as the sun set or a warm blanket when the heat wouldn’t turn on.

I’ve helped some through the years. I’d like to say I’ve helped a lot, but since that day, what I’ve done seems to pale in comparison to what is possible. I don’t know what it was about that day, but it heightened my sensitivity. It humbled me to help even more, which I’ve done in the past several weeks.

But there is so much more to be done.

Give. Serve. Sacrifice.

Whatever You Have, It’s More Than Someone Else Has

It’s the time to be merry, yet many struggle with pain, depression, anxiety, and family conflict this time of the year.

It’s time for worship, yet we let worship of the wrong things crowd out the right ones.

It’s time to give, yet in the rush to give, we don’t always give in the best ways.

Look around. There is someone in need around you. It might be a need for material things, someone who can’t give gifts to their children and maybe doesn’t even have contact with their family. It might be a need for other essentials, a space heater, warm blanket, or weatherization tools to keep the cold out of their house. Perhaps it’s a need for a house, or at least, a place to stay. Warm socks, gloves, help with medication, shoes, car repairs, and the list goes one.

Or perhaps the need is emotional. You can’t fix a situation, but you can listen. You can walk through this season with someone. You can share a smile and cheer an overwhelmed parent or a frustrated customer service worker.

Giving isn’t something we do just to check a box on our list of things that are right to do this time of the year. It’s not a part of our Christmas list. It’s really not about this time of the year anyway. It’s about generosity and justice. It’s about keeping our hearts and eyes open to needs.

Set aside your plans for the next few days and replace them with a willingness to see and help someone else. Make it a chronic commitment.

Steep, Don’t Dip

One of the things I appreciated most when recently speaking north of Toronto was the excellent tea. In most places I travel (and live), when I ask for a cup of hot tea, I get a cup of hot water with a tea bag. I don’t get tea; I get potential tea.

Tea needs to steep. That’s how the flavor floods the water so it is bold and consistent. Dipping a tea bag in water that cools with every passing second doesn’t have the same effect. Steeping requires heat and time.

There is a lot in our lives that needs to be steeped with heat and time, yet we prefer to dip. We cautiously, repeatedly dip and are satisfied with the results because we see some change. We don’t worry about the potential, better results we could get with a different process, because we rationalize contentment with our smaller efforts. We don’t want to endure the heat, and we certainly don’t want to wait across much time.

The topic of the weekend at the conference was joy, and we talked about how we can’t expect to truly experience the fullness of the joy God intends by just dipping into it every now and then. We need to steep in it, so that its flavor truly permeates us.

Isn’t that the case with so much of what God provides and wants for us?

What would happen if we steeped in His love, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control? His mercy, grace, forgiveness, generosity, wisdom, power, justice, and compassion?

Steep or dip? It’s your choice.