I was absentmindedly singing along to the radio on the way home from work, trying not to give way to the panic attack toying with my throat. It was an awful day. Seems the honeymoon period is over at school and my student is having a hard time actually adjusting to this routine all over again. Her behavior has made this abundantly clear. The song pulled me out of my dysfunction into the reality of what I really needed: “God, give me strength to give something for nothing.” I exhaled a silent “amen” and acknowledged, “this is exactly where I am, Lord.”
It’s so hard, isn’t it? To give to others without receiving. To pour into people and relationships and then sit with empty hands. I know that this is the example of Heaven. It’s exactly what Jesus did for us. Gave all He had knowing that we have nothing to offer Him in return. But it requires so much of a person. It requires a selflessness that I don’t have on my own. I have spent much time this week simply praying for peace and patience for the next moment. And moment by moment, I’ve made it through my days. But how slowly the days go when you are painfully aware of the moments. When there’s no joy in them, you’re just doing your duty to the Lord. Halting at every other step just to regain your balance, you walk unsteadily through your day.
I think of Luke 6:38, which says, “Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” The hardest part to accept, I think, is that this scripture says nothing of timing, nothing of the source, and requires you to simply look to the Lord and say, “It’s all in your hands.”
Of course, this is very difficult if receiving is your ultimate purpose in all that you do. The Lord seems to take Him time about such things, doesn’t He? And niggling in the back of my mind is the fact that there were many men in the Bible who, according to Hebrews 11:13, did not receive what was promised but only saw them from afar. These men are of much greater strength than I. I look to scriptures such as 2 Chronicles 15:7, “… But as for you, be firm and let not your hands be weak; for there is a reward for your deeds. …” and reward tends to become my focus. But what if God is asking me to be selfless and obedient simply because He desires me to act in accordance with His will and His spirit, and not for what I hope to receive as a reward? How can I say to Him, “God give me strength to give something for nothing. I want to be a glimpse of the Kingdom that’s coming soon.” To be a glimpse of His kingdom. That’s a selfless goal. An admirable one. A goal that requires you to die to all your fleshly desires and expectations of others. A goal worth striving for.
Father, this is my prayer for the upcoming year: Help me to give something, in fact, all that you have put inside of me, without demanding to receive anything in return. All that I am and all that I do, I want to place in Your hands. Use me. Help me to be selfless, for the sake of your kingdom.
*The lyrics mentioned are from Francesca Battistelli’s “Motion of Mercy”