Wednesday, December 23, 2009

The Father's full giving has only begun...

There's an old hymn that says, "When we've reached the end of our hoarded resources, our Father's full giving has only begun." It is December 23, two days before Christmas, and I have officially reached the end of my hoarded, and might I add meager to start off with, resources. A lost CD containing photos for a particular gift, several gifts still to be bought or made, much-needed finances lost somewhere between a company's computer system and our bank account, 4 loads of laundry waiting to be folded on my bed, and a body that seems determined to make every movement achingly painful, and I'm done. Empty. Curled up on the couch, hugging a blankie, weeping and mumbling something about hybernating and rum and the Christmas Stollen with extra icing sugar, empty.

There is something about unrelenting physical pain that can be destructive to our spirits. Most people have experienced this. We all get fatigued at some point, and when we do, one of the results is that our bodies start to hurt, and every movement becomes a chore. We just want to lie down, to rest. Our bodies are quite skilled at loudly announcing what our minds often refuse to acknowledge - that we need to stop and rest. If we ignore these signals, the distress becomes emotional, and even spiritual. Over the past several months I have been experiencing increasingly unrelenting all-over muscle pain. Some of the pain that I have has been around for longer, even up to two years. For an already chronically ill person, I am woefully negligent when it comes to doctor visits. I have been writing my pain off as morning stiffness, a normal part of aging (I know, I am only 43, but denial is a powerful force), just something that if left alone, would go away. It hasn't gone away. So I have begrudgingly made an appointment to see the doctor in January and am now trying to deal with the pain until my doctor places a miracle cure into my hand and all is well. One can hope, right?

I feel like I have a combination of flu-like body aches, a serious gym workout burn, and restless leg syndrome, all at once. Moving hurts, and I can't stop moving because being still hurts, too. Bottom line, I have reached the end. No more resources. I am tired and emotionally fragile because every step hurts. Just looking for the wayward CD of photos left me in tears on the couch.

At the place where the obstacles outweigh the possibilities, things tend to get rough. Hoarded resources. The good news for us, and the joyful message of Christmas, is that when we reach the end our ourselves, our resources, our abilities, strengths, possibilities, goodness, God has only just begun the giving. In fact, it is difficult if not impossible for God to pour his gifts into our lives when we are still huddled protectively over our own resources.

The interesting thing is that God seems to have different priorities than we do, which can lead to a mistaken over-looking of God's giving. Frankly, God is not concerned with our stellar reputations in the annual Christmas church potluck competition. Impressing our relatives with expensive gifts is not a huge priority for Him. His full giving may not be in the "finding the latest cool toy to be oohed and ahhed over for 5 seconds before being thrown on the pile in the corner" department. In fact, God's full giving may include teaching a child to serve others, including mom, by helping to prep the house and wrap presents (Thanks, Gracie!!). It may include a gift of grace for a present not yet prepared in time for the big day (maybe spring clean-up will unearth the CD?). It may mean a family that spends more time visiting with each other over a simple meal rather than swapping recipes and praise for extravagant dishes and expensive treats. The immutable truth is that God's gifts are His choice for us, and are always of the highest quality, always in keeping with His holy nature, and always rooted in His love for us.

Last night I had a dream about a classmate from high school who is now a fellow Christian. I think I am going to send him a quick message to let him know that I am glad to be his sister in Christ. I also just got a call from my husband to let me know that the long-lost finances have appeared, and that I should rest until he comes home. I am going to have a bath and start folding laundry and have a nap and trust that whatever God has for me is infinitely better than anything I could have provided for myself. As it has always been, so it shall continue to be.

After all, isn't that what Christmas is all about?

Merry Christmas to all my dear friends and family. When it comes to God's gifts, you guys are on the top of the list!
My Zimbio