November 5, 2013

When You Need to Receive

They have all come today: questions, requests, needs, tasks demanding attention. The emails pile up unread, the kids need three different things in their backpacks for school tomorrow, and I have to make dinner but forgot, as per usual, one key ingredient on my weekly trip to the store. I scribble another note on the to-do list before my mind darts off onto another thing, before I forget the ingredient that I forgot the first time.

Some of the needs and concerns of friends sit heavy on my heart and mind. They are squeezing out any mental space that goes toward remembering without a to-do list. The needs are of the kind that a meal or a note won't solve, the kind that are met only through prayer and fasting. And, of course, lots and lots of time and lots and lots of wading through doubt and fear and hurt to get to Truth.
The thing is, I want to give. I want to pour myself out for the Lord and for others. I want to love people and have those conversations that need to be had and be with others in the messiness of life. But sometimes I get so heart weary that I'm bone weary too. Unloading the dishwasher feels like climbing Mt. Everest, and I can't for the life of me find the energy to change out of my pajamas. Is it really better, Lord, to give rather than to receive? My flesh cries out to just get what's mine and plug my ears to everything else, to take generously and give stingily.

This is where I really struggle in ministry, and it makes me wonder if I really know how to love and serve like Jesus at all. He served without any expectation of return. I think about myself way too much, and I want people to serve me, and I sometimes want to plug my ears and close my eyes to all of the needs.

This morning, with my Bible cracked, all I could think to pray was, "Lord, I'm desperately weary." It wasn't a request, just a statement, but He answered me through His Word as if I had asked something more--"Lord, I have such need. Who will serve me?" I have been reading through the Psalms, which, or course, are so rich with God's character. And today He drew my eye to one specific characteristic. He said, "I am a Giver." Not just a Giver, but He a rich Giver toward those who love Him.

Is there any need I have that He won't give toward?

Weariness? Come to me all you who are weary, and I will give you rest...

Heart desires? Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart...

Physical needs? I have been young, and now am old; yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his descendants begging bread. He is ever merciful, and lends; and His descendants are blessed.

Lacking strength to face what is? He gives strength in the time of trouble and the Lord shall help them and deliver them...

Of course, we could go on. He gives us a Helper in the Holy Spirit. He gives us all things we need for life and godliness. He takes our concerns and gives us a peace that passes all understanding in return. He gives us the very life we live, both physical and spiritual.

He is a Giver, a good Giver. I never need to ask, "Who will serve me?" And because I can go to Him to receive everything I need, I can take what I receive and then go and give, pouring out my life just as Christ poured out His life for me. He serves me (what a thought!) and I serve Him in response by serving others with the very love He's given me.

And perhaps I can even find the strength to unload the dishwasher.