As We Empty Ourselves for God, He Will Fill Us
I can finally relate to a "good guy" in the Bible.
(Don’t you find that we usually end up relating to the "bad guy" . . . the older brother in the story of the prodigal son, the younger brother in the prodigal son, the self-protecting priest in the story of the Good Samaritan, and the haughty Pharisees?)
It comes as a relief to finally see myself in a person that Jesus said was doing the right thing. Surprisingly, when I put myself in her shoes, I don't feel as awesome and righteous as I thought I might. In fact, there's a part of me that feels humbled and sad.
First, a short story . . .
Lately, I feel like I am giving 100 percent—leaving it all on the court—just to mother my five children. Yet I miss serving the Lord outside of our home. I think it's important to reach my arms out in kindness, for Christ's sake as well as for my children's sake. So I look for opportunities when I'm able.
An Opportunity to Serve
We recently had a chance to serve someone outside of our family.
Late one night, tragedy hit a dear friend of mine. I heard about it in the morning and packed the kiddos up as quickly as I could. We arrived at her apartment to sit with her. It was wonderful to be able to do that. The children were considerate and compassionate. My friend was the least-needy person on the face of the planet. I rubbed her back when she cried, we chatted, and we helped her run an errand. After noon, we headed home for the baby's naptime.
By the time we got in the door, our strength was sapped. We were practically gasping for air.
The kids fell apart instantly. Crying, fussing, fogginess . . . we all muddled around for lunch, ate, and crashed. My highly compassionate/emotionally tuned child was so drained, he took a very uncharacteristic nap. I couldn't get dinner on the table, and I didn't have any emotional availability for my husband when he came home from work.
To tell you the truth, we didn't really regain our footing for a couple of days. We gave everything we had. But it wasn't even that much.
When We Give So Little
I felt crushed before the Lord. "Why don't I have more strength? I want to serve You, but the simplest things wear me out! I wish I had more emotional rebound, more energy. I wish I could keep going after serving someone."
That's when I remembered the widow of Luke 21 or Mark 12. The one Jesus "looked up and saw" putting two small copper coins in the temple offering.
He said, "Truly, I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all of them. For they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on" (Luke 21:3–4).
She's the "good guy" to whom I can relate: the poor widow who gave all she had.
I look at her and say, "Yes, I feel like her. I know I'm not nearly as generous as she, but I feel like I'm offering as much as I can. And I feel like it's only two mites worth."
Can you relate to her, too? Are you giving everything you've got and wondering why it seems so little?
Lessons from the Widow
I want to share a few sweet things I've gleaned from looking at this short story in the context of Scripture as a whole:
1. She went home empty, too.
Just think, when that poor widow went home, she had no money left. She had to start over again, earning, saving, or begging. Though giving was a joy, she felt the loss.
When we give everything, we're going to feel like we have nothing left. It's like a law of nature, right? Though we may relish the joy of service, we're going to feel the emptiness, the lack, the exhaustion. And we will have to start over again, sleeping, eating, and praying.
2. Jesus looked up and saw her gift.
It is sufficient for our Savior, who loves us, to see us in those moments when we just want to love Him back and lavish other people with His love. What an undeserved wonder to catch His eye!
Though perhaps like me, the poor widow felt disappointed in the smallness of her gift. Maybe, like the apostle Paul, she too considered her greatest act of service "rubbish" compared with Christ’s righteousness given to us.
Until the other day, I never imagined that perhaps the poor widow was really thinking, Oh, if only I had more to give Him . . . Did she struggle, like me, to be grateful for those two mites?
3. Jesus gave her those two mites in the first place.
The poor widow knew that God Himself had pressed those two mites into her hand so she could have the pleasure of returning them to Him. Like my children who hold out their palms during the offering at church, waiting for me to put a quarter in their hand so they can immediately plunk it in the offering plate, may we hold out our hands to our heavenly Father and immediately give His blessings back to Him.
All of our blessings come from our God, and all things belong to Him.
4. Jesus will continue to take care of her.
Just moments before this scene takes place, Jesus criticizes the scribes who misused the widows, taking everything they had for selfish purposes. Of course, the scribes would not provide for widows in return.
But God is different. He loves and provides for widows. When this widow gives all of her money to the temple, she is demonstrating that her hope is in the Lord. He can take all of her money, for He will care for her. What trust!
She believed it wasn't the last time God would provide for her, so she could give generously.
Thankfully, our salvation is wrapped up in His generosity and never-ending supply of help. We give because He first gave to us. Believing in God's loving goodness opens our hands.
But keep this in mind: When we give all we've got, we will feel empty. The unchanging law of the kingdom of heaven is that God will fill us back up again.
What has God pressed into your hands today? Do you have something small you could give to the Lord? An extra hour or some resources to offer someone in need? A notecard to write an encouraging note to a sister? Or is today one of resting and waiting for Him to fill you up again?
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