Sometimes we glimpse God and his character in another person. It can come in a hug, a smile, someone dropping off freshly-picked strawberries or listening with open heart and good questions.
For me, last week, that glimpse came in a note from the fellow writer whose blog, along with mine, has been shortlisted in the Word Guild’s “Best Blog of the Year” category. I’m too shy to print here the kind words that she sent, so I’ll just say that though she could have seen me as competition, she chose instead to see me as a sister, serving our Lord together with the unique gifts and calling we’ve been giving. She could have resented me (especially once I confessed I’d only submitted my blog the day before the contest closed on the encouragement of another fellow writer). Instead, she chose to encourage and affirm, “It is an honour to be in this category with you.”
Is there an award for kindness and hospitality? Perhaps not in the Word Guild contest, but I’m certain it will be part of our Saviour’s “Well done” that we wait to hear someday. Sandee’s gracious words bring me back to the truth: God’s kingdom is not a competition. Fullness of life is not about performance or production or proving, but about the fruitfulness that flows from making our home in God’s love.
Abundance vs. Scarcity
At God’s lavish banquet, there’s more than enough to fill and delight us all. Even when, on the spur of the moment, Jesus hosts a simple supper of bread and fish, there’s plenty for us all to eat all we want with a dozen baskets of leftovers.
This extravagance isn’t that of a billionaire who hosts a banquet out of his excess, his gift barely touching his bank balance. This is the gift of a Father who, in love, gives all he has—his kingdom, his life—to his children. He brings us all the way in, not merely as subjects (though that would be grace enough!) but as co-heirs, ruling with Christ (Rom 8:17; Rev 2:26-27).
“The saints of the Most High will receive the kingdom and will possess it forever—yes, for ever and ever” (Daniel 7:18, c.f. v. 22, 27)
“He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?” (Rom 8:32)
God resolves to make us great. (And that, as you’ve heard me say before, is what Dr. J.I. Packer says is the best definition of love that he knows: “the resolve to make the loved party great.”)
As a friend said to me the other day, “The world says, ‘Your success is my failure.’ God says, ‘Your success is my success and my joy.’”
But how do I learn to live in the truth of abundance rather than scarcity? On the mornings when anxiety presses in, how do I shift my focus to God’s loving faithfulness and generosity? This is still (and perhaps always will be) a learning curve for me. The “how to” varies.
Sometimes it involves listening again to God’s words:
“Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom.” (Luke 12:32)
Often it means sitting still in God’s presence, receiving his gentle reassurance, “It’s okay, little one, I’ve got you.”
Or paying attention to what I see and hear and feel as I bike—the morning sun just touching the tops of the grasses, the wind on my face—and giving thanks for each one.
But these days, one simple step I’m taking is to start each day with Soulstream’s morning prayer:
I receive your love,
your presence and this day
as a gift from you.
I open my heart to you.
Please lead me deeper
into your transforming love
as we live these next hours together.
The simple reminder that this day, and God’s love and presence in it, is a gift, along with the choice to open and receive it, helps me straighten a little from my anxious, curled-in-on-myself posture of scarcity to look again at the face of Love, take the hand that He offers, and step into the good gift of this day with the even better gift of God’s loving self.