from death to life

When I became pregnant with Mercy, it was as if everywhere I looked there were nothing but other pregnant women. It’s the same with cars, right? As soon as you buy a Subaru, that’s all you ever see on the road!

A few weeks ago, I posted about my newly acquired poverty-induced stinginess. Since writing those words, I think every day has offered me some opportunity, some invitation to live generously toward others. Every day has given me desperately needed chances to learn to die.

There was the phone call from a neighbor who was literally down to one slice of meatloaf left in her refrigerator to feed her family of four and who would not receive her paycheck for two more days. Of course I did not hesitate to send Doug to Ralph’s to purchase a grocery gift card for her family out of our church’s benevolence fund. But he would not be home with that until after the dinner hour, so I quickly packed up the last meal’s worth of groceries we had in our cupboard, the food I intended to prepare for our family, and brought them over to her home. Now we did not go hungry that night. But it was a chance for my heart to move toward the other and away from my own self in a very small way. It was a chance for me to live as a slave to love and not to fear. It was a chance to hold loosely and not to cling, to release and not to hoard.

Last Thursday Doug and I were guest lecturers at Fuller Seminary for a course on evangelism. We basically offered our church as a case study for some of the different ways that evangelism can look in different contexts. At the end we had time for a couple of questions, and the last question we were asked was about our kids and how we felt about raising them in this environment. Doug spoke for us both when he answered that they are the first thing to cause us to want to leave. But they are also the thing that makes us stay. In Doug’s words, “I want my kids to grow up not thinking twice about giving away a car.”

C.S. Lewis writes this:

“The Christian way is different: harder, and easier. Christ says, ‘Give me All. I don’t want so much of your time and so much of your money and so much of your work: I want You. I have not come to torment your natural self, but to kill it. No half-measures are any good. I don’t want to cut off a branch here and a branch there, I want to have the whole tree down…Hand over the whole natural self, all the desires which you think innocent as well as the ones you think wicked–the whole outfit. I will give you a new self instead. In fact, I will give you myself: my own will shall become yours.'”

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