At Fred Meyer the other night, a woman came up to me as I was getting out of my car, asking for money for gas.
Do I think she really wanted it for gas? I don’t know. But that’s not really my job to determine, is it? We aren’t called to be suspicious and skeptical of people. Wise and discerning, yes, but she claimed to have a need, and I had no way of knowing for sure that her need wasn’t real.
Normally I don’t have any cash on me, so I apologize to people when they ask for money and I continue on with my day, just briefly mentioning them in prayer. But this night, I had money. I had a $10, a $5, and two $1’s.
And I gave her the $10.
I chose to give her the $10 and skip buying myself cold medicine- not because I’m a martyr, but because I saw her as Jesus’ child. I looked at her with compassion and some sadness and I thought, “You need Jesus.” And as that thought hit me, I knew what I needed to do. She needed Jesus, and I had the opportunity to be Jesus to her.
After I handed the money over, she practically ran away from me with barely a “thank you”. I felt pretty confident in that moment that she didn’t need gas. She acted like she was getting away with something, and she wanted to get as far from me as possible before I learned the truth and changed my mind.
And so I called after her, “God bless you!” Because I wanted her to know I gave to her not as me, but as Jesus’ hands and feet here on Earth. I gave to her from the love He has for her. It wasn’t about the $10.
And wouldn’t you know, she stopped mid-run. She couldn’t be slowed down to say “thank you” properly, but she stopped when I said that and she turned to look at me. She studied my face for a second. “God bless you, too,” she said.
I pray she didn’t use the money for drugs. I pray she used it for gas.
But either way, I pray she felt the love of Jesus that night. I pray He will take my $10 and use it for much more than I ever could’ve.
And I smile with the ease at which I handed that money over. And it’s not because I’m some saint, but because giving $10 to a stranger was the easiest thing God’s asked me to do in a long time.
There’s growth and blessing in sorrow and struggle.
Sometimes I feel like I have nothing, like it’s just me moving through this world, emptied out on the inside. I feel like I’m having to consciously remind my heart to beat, and not just beat, but beat for one thing alone- God.
And I believe He’ll bring me out of this valley.
But while I’m here, He is teaching me to breathe.
He is teaching me what truly gives life.
He is presenting me with situations I can’t control, and situations I can. And the funny thing is, I can’t control what comes into my life- all I can control is what I give out.
And as I mourn and grieve and tearfully choose surrender and acceptance over and over again all day long, He is reminding me that laying down my life feels like a death, yes, and it is, but it’s not the end.
Things are laid down, but not buried. Not beyond resurrection.
As I leave everything at the foot of the cross, He’ll sift through it. He’ll take each thing, one by one, and hold them. He’ll examine them for their life-giving (or life-stealing) qualities, He’ll search them for signs of heaven, and He’ll weigh whether or not they have the ability to support rather than detract from my higher calling as His beloved child. And some things He’ll toss out because He won’t give me anything less than the best. But some things He’ll bring new life to and hand back to me.
He’ll take my worldly wants and desires and sorrows and fears and trauma, and He’ll breathe holy breath and life and redemption and healing into them. And I’ll appreciate them differently when they come into my life as a gift, or healing, or freedom- all marked with His fingerprints.
And when I can’t see the gift without seeing His fingerprints, I won’t be tempted to worship the gift- I’ll worship the gift-giver.
I can trust Him with my heart. I can trust Him with my pain, my life, with the things I can’t control.
And so I’ll pursue Him. I will invest my energy in the things I can control instead of fighting against what I can’t.
He’s teaching me that when I sink below the surface of the water, like Peter, the only hand reaching out for me will be His. Because only He can walk on water. Everyone else? They’ll be in the boat. Not heartlessly, not without care or concern or love, but the most they can do is row over and toss me a buoy. They can’t walk on water.
He’s the Gift-Giver. The Healer. The Redeemer. The Savior. The true source of the life I so desperately long for.
He’s teaching me that.
And He’s teaching me the value of $10.
$10 isn’t going to keep me from drowning, but grasping tight to His hand will.
“Where You go, I’ll go
Where You stay, I’ll stay
When You move, I’ll move
I will follow You
Who You love, I’ll love
How You serve I’ll serve
If this life I lose, I will follow You.“