“The gospel alone liberates you to live a life of scandalous generosity, unrestrained sacrifice, uncommon valor, and unbounded courage.”– Tullian Tchividjian –
She poured it out.
With her hands perhaps shaking, she formed a small cake and baked it, because she believed.
She believed that, in pouring out, she would be filled.
Lately, I’ve been feeling stretched thin. Divvied up between people and activities and responsibilities, I’ve felt the pull of every desire in my heart. Recently, these desires pull me tight as a drum in a hundred directions.
I’ve felt a bit like a caretaker of rationed bread, handing out a sliver of time or energy or joy to those in line, as they file past me. I keep looking over my shoulder at the store of bread, dwindling. I fear it will run out soon.
This is how I have felt with my relationships, with my efforts. I’m loving everything I’m doing, yet often feel surprisingly drained. In my journey to welcome, I have invited so many new faces into my innermost heart. Gladly, I welcome them. Each one is a gift, not a burden. In fact, I wouldn’t change anything.
Imagine if someone handed you a chest of gold. You might feel blessed beyond imagining. And you might also stagger under the weight of the gift.
What I’m discovering is that my greatest calling is something I am not capable of on my own. I am not enough for these things. My oil is running dry. My barrel is down to the last traces of flour dust.
The widow was at this very point when a hungry prophet walked into her city. She probably had a lot of good excuses not to give: I’ve already given what I could to all the other widows on the street. A homeless boy took the last of the dried fruit last week. I’ve got a son to think about, not just myself. I’ve given and given, and I just can’t give any more. This is a famine! We can’t give it all away.
But the prophet asked for her very last reserve of energy, her last vestige of control, her final claim to independence. He asked for all of her (1 Kings 17:7-16.)
She said, “This is all I have left.”
In reply, he said. “Don’t be afraid.”
How can a cup keep pouring out water forever? It can…if someone else is pouring water in at the same time.
In this season, I am learning to say “No” to many nonessentials. I am learning to prioritize. I am balancing friendships and events and possibilities with the very real challenges of a new season. This may be a time for different things, and for giving of myself in undiscovered ways. So in embracing being “poured out,” I am not saying yes to every request or denying myself the things I need to stay healthy.
I am only recognizing the the abundant life begins with being filled, but it doesn’t end there. After Jesus fills my heart with His love, I am not designed to hold it in. Abundant means overflowing, and one cannot really overflow alone. The overflow has to go somewhere, has to touch someone. So Jesus has placed circumstances and people and new struggles and fresh joys in my path…and I am not up to the task.
But, when I am stretched thin and fear that I will not be enough, I forget that I belong to an infinite God who cannot be stretched thin. In myself, I am not able. In Him, I can do everything He asks of me today. I do not even have to be enough for tomorrow. I can just depend on Him to make me enough for this day, pray for Him to be enough in me. “This job has been given to me to do, ” Elisabeth Elliot said, “Therefore, it is a gift. Therefore, it is a privilege. Therefore, it is an offering I may make to God. Therefore, it is to be done gladly, if it is done for Him. Here, not somewhere else, I may learn God’s way. In this job, not in some other, God looks for faithfulness.”
My Jesus emptied His vastness of wealth into me. I can give, then, when I feel there is nothing left. I can scour the storeroom and hand out that last scrap of bread. I can scrape out the last drop of oil and tip the last pinch of flour onto the counter.
“I can empty because counting His graces has awakened me to how He cherishes me, holds me, passionately values me. I can empty because I am full of His love. I can trust.”
– Ann Voskamp, One Thousand Gifts –
“He did not even spare His own Son but offered Him up for us all; how will He not also with Him grant us everything?”– Romans 8:32, HCSB –