Time to Feast!

It’s almost here!
Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday – well, top two for sure.
I love the food, the family… and the football.
A couple years ago, my family decided they needed to eat healthier. We basically showed up for the meal they had prepared, so we could hardly weigh in and suggest they not make any changes. But suffice to say, we were not as excited about a ‘healthy’ holiday.
Imagine our surprise when dish after dish was rich, savory, and exploding with seasonal flavor. By the time it was over I could hardly believe how delicious it had all been. In fact, I begged them to remember exactly what they had done so it could be replicated the next year!
God’s heart for us is much the same. His commandments seem like they will curtail our lifestyles. Obedience sounds like it will be hard and taxing. His ways don’t sound like our ways because they aren’t… they are so much richer, so much deeper, so much more satisfying than our habits. But it takes a leap, or a surrender, to let go of the weaker option we know, and sit at the feast of goodness God is preparing for our lives.
As C.S. Lewis wrote :
“It would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.”

What a Gift!

What an amazing gift this last week is been. When the weather touches the 70s in early November, you have to be grateful. When we look back at how much snow we had already gotten it this point last year and then compare that to walking outside in shorts, it is truly a gift!
But sometimes it’s hard to be grateful even with something as fickle as weather. Gratitude is not natural to entitled-inconvenience-driven suburbanites like ourselves. Yes that means you. Yes that means me. When we have the anticipation so much in life will break our way, we miss the good and gracious gifts that God gives – like the leaves in our front yard that brush against our legs in a November day in shorts. Even with goodness all around, gratitude can go forgotten.
There is a phrase that I keep repeating to myself when bitterness rises up: “You can thank your way out of any problem.”
Chances are this week you will have someone or something or some circumstance that disappoints you. And the pain it causes will leach in. Each and everyone of us will be given the choice to sulk or to find a way to be grateful in all circumstances. Which one of those do you think God has asked of you as a follower of Jesus?
Make a choice to be grateful. Change your mind and heart and spirit. If you change yourself, everything around you will start to change.

The Widow’s Portion

A year and a half ago our lives radically changed. We had waited 7 long years to have a baby, and his arrival meant the end of a season of adult life and the start of something totally new. The thing is, I was never a person who sought this particular role of caregiver voluntarily. I did not babysit as a teenager. Truthfully, it has always come difficult to me. So being a parent to a new person, a very NEEDY new person has been hard for my very selfish brain.
There are lots of seasons in our lives that lead us to focus on our deficits. Maybe the commute to your current job is taxing your time and emotional health. Maybe your relationship status makes you long for something different, more peaceful, more rich. Maybe your finances leave you feeling you are falling behind the 8 ball week after week with only uncertainty facing your future.
In the Gospels, Jesus is sitting with his disciples watching people give their offerings. In that world, it was a public event, on the way into the temple… imagine us parading our checks before we sat down in church. Jesus is irritated with the display until he sees a widow give a couple of small coins – so small it was a truly inconsequential amount. However, Jesus points her generosity out to his disciples, and the ages, explaining that “…Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything—all she had to live on.” (From Mark 12:43&44)
This story is a great illustration of our love and advocacy for tithing. Throughout the scriptures, God invites us to give – not based on a certain sum or dollar amount – AND never to be impressive. Instead, God lovingly invites us to acknowledge all that He has given – our portion – and to offer from that honestly. God serves us each a dollop of resources- just like around the table at a meal.
What is your portion? What has God given you? Are you devoted to building God’s kingdom from your portion?
Jesus lifted up the Widow – not JUST because she gave so generously of her portion. The widow was living the faith that seeks and finds our generous God. In one of his most important teachings, Jesus states that “whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much…” It may sound overly simplistic, but if God is who He says He is, then God met the widow with provision – and God will meet us the same. That full portion widow invested was a statement of outrageous and powerful faith! And her action undoubtably led to God’s outpouring of care and faithfulness.
Simply put, we all want more. However, God CAN NOT increase our portion – any portion – that is not investing in the Kingdom of God with faith and love. How could God?
So if you feel like you have a widow’s portion right now, it’s okay to acknowledge that honestly. Give faithfully and generously with it and watch and see. God will meet you wherever you are. And if you are faithful with what the portion you have right now, small as it may seem, you will experience God’s care and increase and provision. I believe that with all my heart, mind, and spirit.
In Christ!