June 24, 2014

Have You Received the Blessing?

Last Saturday, my husband told the kids to put on their shoes and then sit down on the couch. As our three stair-step boys already tan with summer ran to the shoe bucket, they belted out questions: "Why do we need our shoes, Dad?' "What are we doing, Dad?" "Are we going somewhere, Dad?" They hoped the frozen yogurt shop or, better yet, Toys R Us for an unexpected shopping spree.
Amid the shoe-tying and couch-squirming, he announced to them, "We're going to the school where our church meets and we're going to help with some projects. God loves us, and we want to serve other people so they'll know God loves them too." Visions of toys and fun foods stopped dancing in their heads, and they began a different line of questioning about what they'd be doing and why exactly. They seemed a little concerned about their lazy Saturday being interrupted by glorified yard work.

I piped in from the armrest where I'd been listening: "I can't wait to see if you receive the blessing!" They all three turned and stared and asked in unison, "What blessing?"

With excitement in my voice, I responded, "Jesus said it is better to give than to receive. When we give to others, we get something better than when someone does something for us. We receive the blessing of giving! I can't wait to see you get the blessing!"

And then I hustled them out the door. No blessing for me, just some quiet and quick work so I could meet a deadline.

They came home a few hours later literally bouncing off the walls. Although tired, sweaty, and sporting a few new bug bites, they each took turns excitedly telling me of the work they'd done and the snakes they had hoped to see but, unfortunately, had not. They told me about the people they'd worked with and the teachers they'd seen. Their joy could not be contained.

I said to them, "I can see that you've received the blessing! Doesn't it feel so good to give to others because of all God has done for us?" Before the moment ended and tired boys became grumpy boys, they said the words a mama delights to hear: "We received the blessing!"

Ironically, later that night, I got crabby. I had one of those Saturday nights where I just felt overwhelmed at the whole pastor's wife thing and the silly expectations that people sometimes have of me. It was one of those nights when you're plotting an exit strategy, even though you know you don't really want an exit strategy. I spouted off to my husband: "I just don't always want to have to think of other people," and right when I said I thought about what I'd told my kids that very morning. It's more blessed to give than to receive. I can't wait for you to receive the blessing! I'd celebrated with them at the joy they'd received by giving, and now I was pouting at having to give myself.

There are times in this life, Saturday being one of them, when I don't really believe what Jesus said is true. I think it would be so much better to receive what I want than to sacrificially give to others. I want the Toys R Us trip over the glorified yard work. But in reality I know how that goes. I know that when I'm looking to serve myself, I'm desperately unhappy. Been there, done that, don't want to keep playing that losing game. But when I seek to serve others out of the overflow of what I've received from Christ Himself? Uncontainable joy and profound peace. Every. Single. Time.

The truth is that I do get to receive. Everyday, I can receive from a God who delights in me, who wants to pour out in me everything I need for life and godliness. Having received to overflowing, I can give easily. It's a double blessing, actually. A blessing of receiving from the God of the Universe and a blessing to give to others.

Yep, I want me some of that. I receive that blessing!

Will you?