Friday, February 20, 2015

The Mystery of the Giver

The Lord gives, and the Lord takes away.
Praise the name of Yahweh. Job 1:21 (HCSB)

I put the book down halfway through to wipe tears that fall onto my daughter, asleep in my lap.  Have you ever inhaled the words of another and wondered how they could echo your own? I’m lost in Sara Hagerty’s story, graciously spilled out onto crisp pages. Every Bitter Thing is Sweet. The parallels in our stories convince me she is a close friend, but what really links our hearts is a common discovery of the God who gives. 

It’s there on page 134 and again two pages over:

“I assumed, again, that growth would come through disappointment, not fulfillment. It had always been safer to expect that God allows suffering in the interest of refinement. While I still believe this is a significant aspect of His nature, Uganda had given me the chance to discover new frontiers of His generosity. For He also allows joy.”

Through the recent birth of my daughter, I’ve glimpsed this God who gives.  The same cup I held out in pain, wondering if He withheld blessing, now overflows. My heart is shifting to make room for the Giver. I’m reaching out to receive joy. I’m terrified to hold joy fully, though, because what if it’s not mine to keep?

The God who takes away lovingly stripped all that once stood between my heart and His. Loss has shaped my faith. Everything I thought would satisfy only led me empty-handed to the feet of Jesus.  I found my fill in Him instead. I know the God who heals me, the One who is sovereign and in control of my mess. I know God, my Rescuer; His power has broken my chains and led me in the way of freedom.

But I'm just now discovering my Father, the God who gives.

Embedded deep within me is this idea that to receive, I must earn.  To be blessed, I must do. Jealous of the grace given so freely to the prodigal, I try to work for what I already have in abundance. And I’m just as lost as the one who ran away. I’ve run away from the Father, too, only in a different direction.

 As they were eating, Jesus took bread, blessed and broke it, gave it to the disciples, and said, “Take and eat it; this is My body.” Then He took a cup, and after giving thanks, He gave it to them and said, “Drink from it, all of you. For this is My blood that establishes the covenant; it is shed for many for the forgiveness of sins. Matthew 26:26-28 (HCSB)

Take and eat is the invitation on the table. The words are recognizable, yet I don’t have a clue what they mean, not really. I am Eve’s daughter, deceived. Doubting the goodness of the Giver, I attempt to guard my own heart. When Eve took the fruit and ate it, the death sentence followed.

The Father knew there was only one way to bring His children back into communion with Him: a gift in return for the offense.

But not just any gift. This gift came at a great expense. It cost God dearly.  Infinitely.

Take and eat, Jesus says to the same ones who stole and ate, inheriting death.  Take and eat is the invitation to the gift of life, an eternal inheritance. Take and eat proclaims that truth conquers the lie as He prepares the table for me in the presence of my enemies.

And He took bread, gave thanks, broke it, gave it to them, and said, “This is My body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of Me.” Luke 22:19 (HCSB)

Jesus’ blood bought my forgiveness; His body provided life.  Accepting that I’m forgiven is not my issue. I know the way to the Father. But receiving this abundant life is my daily struggle. My heart exchanges truth for lie when I hone in on what I must do without regard for the gift.

In recognizing the Gift, I become more acquainted with the Giver.

So I’m making space to commune with the One who placed the full life within my grasp. To commune is to “talk together with profound intimacy” my dictionary declares. Communion is so much more than conversation; communion with the Giver is a lifestyle.

Jesus is my link to the Giver because Jesus is the gift.  He is my joy.  He is the peace that holds me in the midst of uncertainty.  Jesus is strength in my weakness. He is wisdom when life makes no sense; He is comfort for my heartbreak and hope for the days ahead. Jesus is God’s love all wrapped up and given… for me to give away.

The enemy is determined to keep all this hidden from my heart, because knowing this silences the lie whispered down through generations.

Communing with the Giver is more than asking Him to give; it's saying yes, I receive You. Every day. On the desperate days and the together days. In seasons of much and seasons of little, and every space in between.

The longing pleas of my past left me reaching out to receive more of Him. So it is with blessing.  The arms-out-accepting also leads to receiving Him. No matter how my now looks, God does not change. He is creatively searching for new ways to give Himself to me more and more each day, because He will always be the Giver.

You make known to me the path of life;
     in your presence there is fullness of joy; 
     at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.  Psalm 16:11 (ESV)

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