Looking forward to the glorious celebration of our King, rising from the grave!!!
Her face peered through the metal gate into our house, her dirty face weary from a long day of trudging. When she smiled, I saw her missing teeth and infected gums. Her tummy was round and looked every bit the 9 months pregnant that she was. Her mismatched, thin clothes and old, shabby sweater didn’t keep the chilly wind from making her clutch her arms together. “Please, do you have any baby clothes you can give me?” This was not the first nor second time nor even the tenth time that someone had been to our door asking for clothes or food, and we had always tried to give them something; but this time it was different for me. “Cuando va a dar a luz al bebe?” I asked her. “El 26 de April”, she responded. I told her to wait for a few minutes and went inside to see what I could gather. (On a side note, I always have liked that in Spanish “give birth” actually is “give the light”)
I searched through the abundance of baby clothes I had stored and started pulling out the old, stained, and my not my favorite outfits to give her but in a minute, I started to ponder what I was actually doing: “Am I really giving her what is good? Am I taking from the blessing that I have been given and blessing someone else richly with it? Am I being a true ambassador of Christ?” I knew that I wasn’t. I was being stingy, keeping what was best for myself and giving what I wouldn’t have cared to keep anyway. Giving away the scraps and keeping the true meal for me.
So thus began my transformation. Special outfits made it into that bag yesterday. Some precious little dresses and pajamas that would make the eyes of her little princess look so bright and sweet all wrapped in beautiful fabric. One of my favorite soft pink blankets for her to wrap her darling baby in, like I had done with Jane and Margaret.
There was one more thing I wanted to get for her, but I couldn’t find it in any bins. I searched and finally gave up, deciding that it wasn’t that important. I gave her the bags of clothes and she thanked me profusely. Her 4 year old son with the snotty nose, filthy clothes, and flip-flops quickly found a few stuffed animals in the bags and hugged them to himself, smiling grandly. As she turned to walk away, I felt that it wasn’t finished. “Just wait one more minute. I have to find this.”
I headed back inside, searching my memory as to where I had placed that item. I pulled out a bag underneath our bed and was rewarded with the sight of it. Taking it outside, I told Susana “This is for you.” She smiled warmly and pulled off her shabby sweater. As I helped her put on the long, warm maternity cardigan and saw how nicely it looked on her, I almost hesitated. That split-second, sinful thought of “It would be nice to have that for the next pregnancy…” flashed up, But no. It was MUCH better given to someone that could enjoy its warmth much more than I will ever need it. Ever.
As she awkwardly bent over and gathered her belongings and started waddling off down the street with her little boy still clutching the stuffed animals to himself, I do admit I felt some pain. And at the same time I knew it was exactly how I should feel. I would actually remember her now, and think of her wrapping her baby up. I would actually remember to pray for her because she was wearing part of me.
And it helped me to be reminded of what God did for us. If I am “sacrificing” of myself and it is easy, it is not true sacrifice. God gave us His most beloved Son. We are called to show that same love to the world, to demonstrate in whatever way we can just how much Christ loves us.
It was an embarrassingly tiny thing that showed my great, big sin nature yesterday. The fact of how something as simple as fabric can make my heart wander into a “mine”-field of idols. It made me think of the other areas in my life where I have been giving grudgingly, where I have been trying hard to give from the outskirts and not from the heart. I need so much refinement by Christ, so much mercy from Him as He attempts to take my willful, hard heart and change it into a soft, beautiful mirror for him. But I rest assured that He will change me. He will be faithful to His child.
6 But this I say, He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully.7 Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver. 2 Corithians 9:6-7
Money bestowed in charity, may to the carnal mind seem thrown away, but when given from proper principles, it is seed sown, from which a valuable increase may be expected. It should be given carefully. Works of charity, like other good works, should be done with thought and design. Due thought, as to our circumstances, and those we are about to relieve, will direct our gifts for charitable uses. Help should be given freely, be it more or less; not grudgingly, but cheerfully. While some scatter, and yet increase; others withhold more than is meet, and it tends to poverty. If we had more faith and love, we should waste less on ourselves, and sow more in hope of a plentiful increase. Can a man lose by doing that with which God is pleased? He is able to make all grace abound towards us, and to abound in us; to give a large increase of spiritual and of temporal good things. He can make us to have enough in all things; and to be content with what we have. God gives not only enough for ourselves, but that also wherewith we may supply the wants of others, and this should be as seed to be sown. We must show the reality of our subjection to the gospel, by works of charity. This will be for the credit of our profession, and to the praise and glory of God. Let us endeavour to copy the example of Christ, being unwearied in doing good, and deeming it more blessed to give than to receive. Blessed be God for the unspeakable gift of his grace, whereby he enables and inclines some of his people to bestow upon others, and others to be grateful for it; and blessed be his glorious name to all eternity, for Jesus Christ, that inestimable gift of his love, through whom this and every other good thing, pertaining to life and godliness, are freely given unto us, beyond all expression, measure, or bounds.” ~ Matthew Henry Commentary on 2 Corithians 9:6-7
I am quite sorry for the span of time which you have been left to wonder what is happening around here. We made a trip to the States to see Caleb’s dad recently. He is nearing the end of this long, arduous race, and we wanted a chance to spend some more precious time with both him and Caleb’s family, as each person undergoes this difficult time in life.
Recently, Caleb and I have listened to some poignant sermons regarding joy and trials, refinement of silver, and similar themes on how to respond when our Sovereign Lord brings these shadowy times into our life. We have been convicted and encouraged through the words that were spoken, reminding us to not have hardened hearts to reject the shaping and molding which the Lord is lovingly giving us, and remembering that the Lord IS with us even closer than ever as we climb these rocky mountains and He will give us the strength to carry on and through. We are His workmanship.
We pray and beseech the Father to be ever-present with Caleb’s dad, grieving through his suffering and pain, his sleepless nights and uncomfortable days. Please continue to lift us up as I learn how to comfort my husband , how to best manage our lives, and how to continually abide in Christ through these times.