Friday, April 18, 2014

the giving up life

So, about this Lent thing?

As I sit here on Good Friday it turns it out was harder than I thought. The life Christ asks me to live takes sacrifice. It’s the same thing he asks of each of his followers. And yet, so often we are only willing to sacrifice when it’s convenient for us. When there’s wiggle room in the checking account, then, I’ll tithe. When I get through this school year, then, I’ll serve. When I’m fully rested and living my life with clear margins, then I’ll give of myself. 

Unfortunately, as Christ followers we don’t have the luxury of those options. Jesus was very clear when he talked to his followers about this. He said when you give, when you fast, when you pray. (Matthew 6) It wasn’t an if, it was a when. He knew these were not optional exercises for those who follow him. They are the essential disciplines of a life hidden in Christ. 

As Lent began this year I pondered how God wanted me to observe it. I asked him to show me how I could mark this season. He didn’t give me an audible answer. Instead, he gave me a teenager. She showed up at the door on the night before Lent began, sundown to be precise. She brought her tears and her running shoes and a tender, fragile heart. 

As I opened the door, I allowed my heart to expand. And now this girl, she’s one of us. We call her an honorary Detweiler. Even though she’s returned home, she is forever a part of our tribe. 

Just so you know, this isn’t about what we did as a family during the Lent season as much as it’s about hearing the words of Jesus and acting them. He said whatever we do for others, we do for him. He said to care for each other, a concept that is echoed over and over again throughout Scripture. He asks us to lay down our lives, get humble, live for something greater. None of these are overly easily. 

Sometimes we don’t really know what we’re asking for when we ask God to pour us out. I’d like to think it’s about doing the work of God, at my convenience. But God’s directions for his followers don’t work that way. I’m asked to give, even when I don’t want to. I’m asked to share, even when it feels like there’s nothing there to offer. God asks this way because it is in those thin places that he comes in and opens up new ways of blessing us. In our lack he is able to meet our needs, and then often surpass them. But he asks us to open up first. 

Joyce Meyer said once that if you’re lacking in an area of your life, you must give that very thing away and God will come in to return what you’ve poured out. If I don’t have money, he asks me to give money away. If my time is stretched thin, I give away my time. No food in the pantry? Make a meal with what’s left, and then watch God go in and give back what you’ve offered up.

And what does this have to with Lent? It’s the giving of ourselves that makes a way for God to deposit into us. And it’s not giving the minimum. It’s giving it all away. It doesn’t make sense, but I dare you to try. God asks us to give and he tells us he will throw open the floodgates, and deluge us with blessings. (Malachi 3:10)

I didn’t feel like I had much to give when our newest family member came, but on the other side I see that I am overflowing. It wasn’t easy, not because of her but because of my own selfish nature. My longing for routine and my desire to keep the boat steady made it hard to have another person around. But Jesus allowed storms to rock boats, and then he always came and brought peace in the midst of it. He supplied the lack. He brought the overflow. He died so we can not only know and love him, he died and rose again so that my gratitude filled life will make an impact on those around me. That’s his kingdom in action.

It's an invitation he extends to each us this Easter holiday, and everyday. To partner with him in his greater work of using us.

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