on sucky reasons to give – story

Posted: February 1, 2013 in Uncategorized

Last week in church, we sang one of my favorite songs, about what we would give to God.  The chorus goes like,

Had I riches
I would bring them
Had I kingdoms
I would lose them
Had I the world
Too small a gift would it be
(My love) for You

It always runs through my head as we sing this song:  really, what could I bring to Him?

It’s easy to go right directly to money, and there is certainy a biblical precedent for addressing that – scripture tells us that where our treasure is, that’s where our heart is.  We absolutely SHOULD address the “money” part of riches, when pondering what to give to God.

But I have riches far, far beyond whatever money is in my purse or in my checkbook.  WAY beyond my inventory of assets.

I have time.  I am given 24 hours in a day to spend.  It is a wealth of time.  How am I spending it?

I have talents – gifts – abilities.  Some natural, some spiritually imparted, some practiced, some as automatic to me as breathing.  Where am I using them?  Where am I focusing them?  How often am I letting them rust, mold, rot, fade way from lack of being put to use?

I have a whole gigantic thought life.  There are worlds inside of worlds, inside my head.  Memories.  Understanding.  Insight.  Intuition.  A riot of words and music and images, all smashing around in there all the time.    What portion of that is already dedicated to Him? How much of it is held conveniently away from His touch?  After all…He’s a gentleman.  If I decide not to let Him in…He’ll generally respect that.

I have a massive collection of relationships, past, present, and future.  Friendships.  Family ties.  Romance.  Familiar passing acquaintances.  Friends of friends, out there on the periphery of my circle, but still touching my life.  How many of those have I extended to Him with an open palm, offering to do anything at all that He asks of me, concerning them?  How different might some of those relationships look, if I uncurled my clenched grip from around them and just yielded them up to Him?

One of my favorite things that I try to pray daily goes something like this:  Lord, give me eyes to see what You are doing.  Give me ears to hear what You are saying.  Open my understanding.  Help me not to miss a single opportunity to tell the story of who You are to me, and who I am in You.  I am offering Him my story.

Here’s the thing:  when I look at my money, my time, my talents, my thought life, my relationships…when I ask my self how much of them I have given to Him, it’s easy to get all guilty and ashamed.  Easy to be motivated by that guilt, by the pressure of I should and maybe even by the pressure of imagined consequences I might suffer if I don’t (after all, most of us suffer to at least some degree with the delusion that He is Big Mean God, waiting to pick on us when we don’t get it right.)   Easy to hold a harbored resentment as we give it to Him, imagining how much better it would be to keep it for ourselves, if only Big Mean God weren’t leaning on us.

Guilt.  Shame.  Obligation.  Fear.  <–These are sucky reasons to give to God.  How much do YOU like getting something from someone you love, when those are the reasons behind it?  SUCKY.  No, I won’t change it to a more civilized or grown-up sounding word.  SUCKY REASONS.  I can’t for a moment imagine God beaming for joy that we give from those motivations.  I just picture Him feeling sad for us, that we are so totally blinded to our story.  To who He is to us.  To who we are in Him.   And our harbored resentments as we give?  Yeah.  Those too:  SUCKY.

In the beginning of the sixth chapter of Isaiah, we see the picture of a man stepping into a heavenly vision:  “I saw the Lord.”  He sees heavenly beings.  He is filled with wonder, fear, self-loathing at his  own dirty mouth.  Then he hears God asking, “whom shall I send?”  I love this part!  I picture Isaiah in a school desk.  His hand is raised so high it pulls his shoulder up and up…stretches his back…jerks his butt right up off the seat.  He is leaning as far forward as the desk will permit.  He’s making little ooh! ooh!  ooh! noises.   Finally, he bursts out:  “PICK ME! PICK ME!”

THAT’S how I want to give to God.  Not grudging obedience, not the sigh of obligation, not the twisted smirk of shame, not passive-aggressive fear.  I want to be the obnoxious hand-raiser, the eager beaver.  I want to RUN to give to Him.  I want to make Him chuckle and – hey – maybe even roll His eyes indulgently, like we sometimes do at overexcited little children.  I want to make His heart glad.  

That’s where story comes in for me.  As I offer Him my story, it opens up that gladness.  Let me see what You’re doing.  Let me hear what You’re saying.  Let me tell anyone, everyone who will listen, and even those who didn’t mean to be listening.  If I can stay inside that framework, it’s much easier to stay away from guilt and shame and obligation and fear and resentment.  Much easier to laugh and dance at the joyful parts, and to yield to the mystery in the parts that are dark and seemingly unknowable to me.  Easier to keep my hands off the controls, and let Him drive.  It helps me not to yell so much at Him when nothing makes sense, when things don’t seem to be going my way, when answers seem impossible.

This is why I write grats every day.  It’s why I mostly only know how to study by “life application” mode.  Why I write the way I do on this blog and over at the naked one as well.  Story.  Mine belongs to Him.  I want to say what I hear Him saying.  I want to tell what I see Him doing.  I want to celebrate the many ways that He is good.  Story.

Had I riches…oh yeah…I think I’ve proven that.

Had I kingdoms…did you dig that stuff about all the people in my life?

Had I the world…worlds upon worlds, thoughts upon thoughts, words upon words.

Too small a gft it is indeed.  But it’s everything I’ve got.

And it makes Him glad.

  1. Sherri says:

    Well said – very well said indeed!!! Thanks for sharing!

  2. glorious!! love the imagery!!

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