Here it is Monday again, and as I savor my second cup of Maxwell House, I realize I’ve enjoyed my new book by Rick Bragg a little too long and haven’t made my Monday post. This week I share my view from a friend’s mountaintop. This was written last year to express my joy for them, and now seems the right time, with it being Mother’s Day month, to share it.
YOU CAN’T GIVE WHAT YOU DON’T OWN
A Lesson From Someone Else’s Mountaintop
When people reach their mountaintops, they raise their arms, fist bump the sky and shout with incredible joy. Sometimes, their journey is a lesson they themselves may not realize they wrote. One such mountaintop lesson that spoke to me recently is the completion of a long awaited adoption process. Not of my own, but that of a friend.
My daughter’s best friend and her husband adopted a daughter from China. You can read of her family’s incredible journey in her blog, The Glass Slipper at crouchcrew.com. In her beautiful account of their experience as adoptive parents and siblings, she talks about the anguish she imagines the birth mother having as she must wonder about her baby girl’s destiny. Never having been in that situation myself, I too can only imagine the emotional war that must take place within a birth mother’s heart when she makes the selfless choice to give her child what she hopes is a better life. I would say that in our world today this is a decision that almost never is made by anyone other than that mother herself. It got me to thinking of giving and how you can’t give what you don’t have. It is her decision to give. To give a child another life; and to give another family the privilege of calling her baby theirs, is the ultimate gift. That is, other than the gift of God’s own son to us, to make a way for us to have eternal hope, eternal life, eternal joy. This is a gift we could never deserve, and has been given because it is His to give first of all, and secondly because He has that much love for us, His adopted children.
Accepting the wonderful gift that the Father God has given involves another matter of giving. We have to give; give up something first. If our hands are full of self, sin, sorrow…whatever we are holding, then they cannot open to take His gift. These things must first be given up, but what you don’t own, you can’t give. So, we must own our sins. We must own our sorrows and regrets. By pointing fingers of fault at others we are refusing to own, or accept responsibility for our wrongs. Excuses, reasons, or holding onto grudges and envying will not get rid of the wrongs. Until we own our sins, both committed by us and to us, we cannot give them away-
– away, at the foot of the cross;
– away, into the hands of God;
– away, in forgiveness for self and others.
We must stop making them the fault of anyone or anything else. Own them – and give them up. We’ve always heard ‘confession is good for the soul,’ and I think this is why. Though it’s HARD to do, it’s SO worth it. Putting it all down at Jesus’ feet, emptying ourselves of all that stands in our way of grasping His great gifts, is the giving that makes a new life possible. Peter put it this way, “humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.” (I Peter 5:6-7) Then we are able to give His unending love away over and over to others because it is the true gift that keeps on giving. The more you have, the more you can give.
Kim and Steven emptied something out of themselves to make room in their life for a little girl who was in need of a family. Not a small sacrifice. Nor was it for the mother who gave her baby to become the new joy of another family. Theirs is one example of this marvelous circle of giving that God started centuries ago. The more we give up (ultimately ourselves), the more room we have to accept and the more He gives. God doesn’t push Himself on anyone. He stands waiting, wanting us to share His love, to lead others to Him where He is with arms full to load us up with more love, grace, and mercy. To quote a beautiful spiritual hymn, “I am mine no more”. When we empty ourselves and put on Christ, we fill up with the Spirit, and then bless others by sharing what we now own – the love of God.
“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” John 13:34-35 (NKJV)
“Love one another, for love is of God; he who loves is born of God and knows God.” I John 4:7