I’ve enjoyed being home so much that I really haven’t written. It has been—hmmm, let me find an array of adjectives to set my emotions on display: restful, pleasant, colorful, fun, tasty, serene, creative, prayerful, expectant, enjoyable, super-duper, yippie doodle dandy. OK, now I’m getting silly.
Sarah is singing a piece she’s working on for an audition, and the birds outside are whipping out some tunes of their own. With the open windows, Sarah and the tweeters are making a lovely duet. The dog sits to my right, the coffee to my left, the couch hugging my back, and I think I’m just spoiled rotten. I think back to my time in Mozambique—I do this daily—I honestly don’t think there’s a day that goes by when Africa doesn’t cross to ocean and invade my American mindset. I try to reconcile how I live and how billions of others live. It’s almost like these moments of joy are interrupted by the reality of the third world.
And it makes me more grateful. How can it be that I am this fortunate? To love and be loved. To be fed and able to feed. To have such freedom? All this in a time when the news keeps telling us about the housing market plummeting, ridiculous price of oil, and depressing stock market numbers. How does that affect me? How does that affect my brothers—my sisters—in other countries? I’m definitely waxing poetic and melancholy, but there is truth here and I’m determined to find it. What does it mean for Sarah and I?
One of our continual prayers is that we would be ever transformed into a more generous couple. I daresay that second to our prayer of “loving each other better today than we did yesterday,” the prayer of generosity is our most common petition. It’s quickly becoming one of my favorite words: generous. Generosity bleeds into every area of our lives. How we treat one another. How we tend to other’s needs. How we listen. How and why we acquire wealth. How we rehearse, work, and perform.
It’s times like these, when I feel and experience the intense generosity of Father God. And I’m grateful. But I don’t want to just feel His generosity, I wanna live with the same generosity.
Eugene Peterson wrote a paraphrase of the Bible called The Message and I love digging into it. In Matthew 5:16 of that paraphrase, it aptly states my heart:
OK—opening up to others. That’s nice. I can do that. I can open up. Sure, I can share my heart with friends. I can do that. Hmmm. But then, later in the same chapter in Matthew, Jesus takes this generosity idea a bit far—almost uncomfortably far.
That phrase causes me to stop each time I read it: ‘is that going to get us anywhere?’ It’s a question that begs to be answered. It a rhetorical question—of course that’s not going to get us anywhere. He continues on:
Do we really know what we’re getting into here. Yeah, we say we love Jesus and then He says something like this. If we say we love Him but don’t live the way He says is a generous way to live, do we really love Him?
Does living generously mean that we’ll be beat up, spit out, walked over. Human-doormat love?
I’m asking Him what it looks like—I’m asking Him that question daily and have been for about two years: “what does love look like?”
Looking at the ultimate example of love, the love of God, I see that He gave up all His rights to see a superior Kingdom come in power— but why? To become a religious superstar? Naw. To grow rich? Certainly not? Why did He do this? Because He loves us.
He gave up His life: ultimate generosity. There is no greater act of generous, unhindered love than to give up one’s life. Right now, in this moment, I feel Him answering some of my questions, and this is what He’s telling me:
This isn’t about letting people walk all over you. I didn’t make you to be a doormat. I made you to display my love, who I am, to others. There are times when you will feel walked on. There are times when you will experience incredible pain. I’m saying be generous always. You ALWAYS have something to give, even if you feel everything is being taken from you. Always give, and you will always receive enough to continue to give.
Give us courage. Courage to believe that what You say is true.
Courage to live generously.