Perhaps the best word to describe myself at this current stage in my life would be “depleted.” Simply put, I am in a constant state of feeling like I do not have enough nor am I enough for all the things that are required of me. Motherhood kicked my tail, twice over, and when I dove headfirst into starting a new church at the same time…well let’s just all give some praise hands that I didn’t end up on 24 hour lock down.
Life does this, though. Every time we take on a new challenge or we face something bigger than ourselves or are forced to grow, no matter what the area, there is a gap. There is who we used to be and who we are becoming, and in the middle we find ourselves in a process of figuring out who, what, when, where, why, and how? It is stretching, refining, hard, frustrating, sometimes rewarding(?), and necessary.
This has caused some spiritual tension in my life because God asks for every part of me. He wants me to hand over my life to him. He desires to use me. He has a purpose and a plan for me. So here I sit, feeling depleted, knowing that God has called me to mother, to pastor, to give every aspect of my life to him, and all I can think is that I have nothing to give.
“And all I can think is that I have nothing to give.”
I actually pictured this the other day. I sat in prayer with my hands open and I said “God, I have nothing for you.” The picture that came in my mind when I spoke those words was a piece of old hardened bread that was mostly crust and a couple of bananas that were so brown that they looked like they had been burned in a fire. That is literally what I felt like I had to offer God. Crusty bread and burned bananas. Who even wants that? That would be the worst. If somebody gave it to me I would throw it in the trash.
Immediately, however, I felt like God said, “Give me your crusty bread and burnt bananas. I want them.” And then suddenly my mind was flooded with stories of people who gave God insufficient and, in return, God gave abundance.
There was the time when a little boy gave five small loaves of bread and two small fish. Jesus took what was offered and multiplied it – it became enough for 5,000 men (plus women and children) and 12 basketfuls leftover. (John 6:1-14) Humanly speaking, the boy’s food was insufficient. According to God, it was more than enough.
There was the woman who gave two small copper coins as a gift to God. She was surrounded by people who were giving gobs of their money and, as Jesus watched, he praised the woman and told his disciples that her gift was more than any of the others. (Mark 12:41-44) Humanly speaking, the woman’s gift was insignificant. According to God, it was the greatest gift of all.
There is the story of the children who wanted to sit on Jesus’ lap. The disciples began rebuking the people bringing their children because Jesus was obviously much too important for them. Yet, Jesus chastised the disciples and told everybody that the kingdom of God belonged to the children. (Matthew 19:13-14) Humanly speaking, the children had nothing to offer. According to God, they are owners of everything he has to offer.
“Suddenly my mind was flooded with stories of people who gave God insufficient and, in return, God gave abundance.”
The good news of Jesus is that he doesn’t need perfection from us. He doesn’t need us to bring him a whole loaf of bread and fresh yellow bananas. He already has those things. He just desires that we offer him something. He desires we give him the broken, the insufficient, the depleted, the little and, in return, we are given new life, abundance, sufficiency…enough.
I leave you with this Bible passage today. It is one of my very favorites and is a reminder that, as we open our hands and give what we have to God, we will experience his abundance.
My response is to get down on my knees before the Father, this magnificent Father who parcels out all heaven and earth. I ask him to strengthen you by his Spirit—not a brute strength but a glorious inner strength—that Christ will live in you as you open the door and invite him in. And I ask him that with both feet planted firmly on love, you’ll be able to take in with all followers of Jesus the extravagant dimensions of Christ’s love. Reach out and experience the breadth! Test its length! Plumb the depths! Rise to the heights! Live full lives, full in the fullness of God.
God can do anything, you know—far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, his Spirit deeply and gently within us.
Glory to God in the church!
Glory to God in the Messiah, in Jesus!
Glory down all the generations!
Glory through all millennia! Oh, yes!