Right now we're doing some remodeling of our old house. And as I fill trash bags with all the stuff I didn't want to take with us when we moved, I see that old house as something like this:
But as I grumble and pack and strip wallpaper and scrub and carry boxes until my back screams at me, I can hear that whisper in the deep places of my heart. The one that says:
I gave you a roof over your head.
I gave you heat in the winter, even if you had to build it by hand in the stove.
I gave you air conditioning in the summer, even if you had to put it in your window.
So many of my children don't have that.
I gave you the means to buy all this stuff you now deem garbage.
I gave you enough, always enough.
More, I gave you plenty. I gave you bounty.
And I am shamed. And I have to pause and thank Him for providing. For always making sure what I have is sufficient. For the luxury I live in as an American. And I need to learn that what I make of those blessings is up to me. It's mine to say no when someone offers what I don't need, what will only clutter things up. It's mine to say thanks for what I have. It's mine to take care of it all and be a responsible steward.
I load all those boxes and bags into the back of our old clunker minivan that we bought for a song last year. And you know, sometimes I'm almost embarrassed to be seen in that thing. It's not sleek and stylish. It's not filled with cool features or storage compartments or the latest technology. It literally clunks every time we go around a turn. I often look at that old thing and see this:
Then I hear that voice again.
You prayed to somehow have a van but no extra debt.
I you a van with no debt.
I gave you wheels.
I gave you storage space.
I gave you extra seats for hauling around nieces or friends.
I gave you this to keep you from spending money that I knew you wouldn’t have.
I took care of you with this old machine.
And I remember how I knew, knew when the offer for the van came, that the Lord was preparing us for changes. I knew, when I saw Him taking burdens of debt from us, that it was because we’d have to be free of it—which meant financial change on the horizon. And I thank Him again for taking such tremendous care of us.
So I scrub that old carpet. My husband crawls under it or leans into the hood to fix what’s broken. My kids scrabble in with all the love for that old clunker that they would give a shiny new car.
In April when I was on my writing retreat with my best friend, we listened to a couple workshop MP3s from past conferences. The amazing Susan Miesner said something that I found both hilarious and true. That she doesn’t know why they call them “royalty reports.” Because when she opens them up, she never feels like a princess.
For most of us, that is so, so true. I look at where my books fall in the scale, and I realize I’m not at the top. I’m not a bestseller. I’m not an award winner. In this business, it’s so, so easy to get discouraged when we compare ourselves to others. But oh, how well I know the whisper on this topic!
Your words are reaching My children.
You’re telling the stories I plant in your mind.
Publishers invest in you.
Readers email you.
I gave you your dreams.
I am humbled, and so very grateful. I praise Him for this opportunity, and I put my nose to the grindstone and work as hard as I possibly can to be faithful to this blessing.
But then…then there are the times we all know so well. The times when we look in the mirror.
I’ve always been oddly confident in my appearance. I honestly don’t know why. I’m not a super model by any stretch, my body is far from perfect. I can no longer fit in those size 2 clothes I still had in the back of my closet. I’m not willing to spend hours each day exercising or give up the foods I most love. So yeah, my figure has changed over the years. It’s not exactly what I want it to be. I still have a bump on my nose, and my complexion hasn’t been clear since I was 10. But I’ve always thought it’s more about how I feel than anything. So I make sure I feel great in whatever clothes I buy. I’ll change my outfit five times even on days I’m not leaving the house, because I need to feel right in whatever I’m wearing on a given day. I like to think I carry myself with confidence that people notice more than my actual assets or flaws.
I don’t always like the reality that looks back at me in the mirror. I get self-conscience when I’m stuck wearing clothes that don’t make me feel like a million bucks. I hate it when makeup won’t cover the flaws. Or when an adorable outfit in the store doesn’t fit.
But I know that God doesn’t see that either. I know I’m His daughter, precious in His sight. And it’s that whisper that matters most. It’s what He sees there that is so very important.
I want Him to look at me and say:
You have a spirit that seeks me.
You answer when I call.
You love despite the risks.
You feed those who are hungry.
You clothe those who are naked.
You nurture even when you hurt.
You forgive when it’s tempting to cling to offense.
You sacrifice when I ask you to.
You teach your children, My children, to love Me.
You speak the words I ask you to speak.
You seek My reward above man’s.
You are My daughter—well done, faithful servant.
If that is my goal, if that is my achievement in life, then I’ve lived a life worthwhile. And then it doesn’t matter what I wear or what I drive or where I live. It doesn’t matter what I have or what I don’t. It doesn’t matter what others say, though I still pray they see Him in me.
What matters is that, in His eyes, I’m more than the sum of my parts. Because I have Him in me.
Masnion photo credit: Werner Kunz via photopin cc
Rusted car photo credit: GOC53 via photopin cc