I drive my boys nuts telling them stories they’ve heard and heard – and I thought, well, I want to tell this story again. My new daughter-in-law says it’s a family trait, one she’s getting used to. I can’t wait until one day, she becomes a storyteller, too. Today, I want somebody to hear this story again – because it meant so much to me to live it. That’s what friends do! Right? Listen to the same story over and over because they know their friend needed to tell it, needed to be reminded. Wrapping you in a big, heart-felt thank you for listening (reading) it again – if you’ve heard (read) it before.
“Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done”
Jesus let go . . . to do His Father’s work
He let go so that the Father, whose arms were open wide, could wrap them around more of His children.
Jesus opened his arms wide on the cross, to suffer a mother’s terrifying, heart-wrenching nightmare, so a world of me’s could find their way into the wide open embrace of His father.
Jesus let go . . . for me. . .for you. . . and for a world of people who don’t understand, don’t know, don’t believe. . .
“Love your neighbor as I have loved you,” (John 13:34)
Loving our neighbors somehow seems a little distant. Maybe because neighbors today do not know your mama, your granddaddy, your great-aunt Ruby. There’s no history, no connection . . . no real-time cause to create a love effect.
. . . but it’s a choice – this loving. Chose to live it this way; Love people like you love your children: fiercely, uncompromisingly, self-sacrificingly.
I hold my children, encircled in the love of my heart, wrapping that love around them like hugging arms. Yeah, sometimes that love might feel like a vice-grip to them. Maybe I’ll learn to love more gently, but I need to love them the best I can – and in the loving of them, I need to stretch this heart, to let others inside, wrapping that love around them like God does, like Jesus did, arms wide open, ready, waiting.
Letting go means loving more, like being broken in Him makes us whole.
Are you ready, willing to give that father love or mother love, or even daughter/son love to those outside your home, both those easy and uneasy to love?
Eleven years ago when I wrote this post I had the following: 5 sons. 1 daughter-in-law. 1 husband. 1 scardy cat. That makes 8 different ways for me to communicate. 8 different schedules. 8 different moods. 8 different needs. 8 different responses. There are 5 love languages that need mastering and 7 Spiritual Gifts to interpret.
Today, I have the following: (Today: 5 sons, 3 daughter-in-laws, 5 grandchildren, 1 husband, still 1 scardy cat, 1 golden retriever hospitality queen).
Back then, it was prayer for 8. Dinner for 6. Clean socks for 5. Today, it’s prayer for 16. Dinner and socks for two.
I can get absorbed in my family. In my reactions to my family. Into the mysteries of my family. My. My. My. My.
“If anyone would come after me,
they must deny himself
and take up his cross daily and follow me.
Whoever tries to save his life will lose it,
but whoever will lose his life for me will save it.”
Yes, sometimes, I need to let go of my to embrace His . . .His children, His love, His spirit, His word, His Fatherness, His schedule.
Letting Go of my to be His laborer.
In March, 2011, I had a grocery store experience that shook up my heart. In the grocery store with my cart filled with Mama Rosa’s cheese pizzas for my littlest guy, I hummed, focused on feeding the my’s in my life. Shrieking noises wafted over the aisles. My cart and I continued on. High-pitched squeals moved closer, not happy squeals – out-of-control squeals. Chicken to make soup for my biggest teen. Futile mother shouts encroached. Salsa for my Joyful one, mechanical pencils for my fire-and-power son. Running feet closed in, noise moving passionately invading my reverie. Pelegrino for my thirst.
As I was just reaching for enchilada sauce, a little boy appeared with the shrieking voice. You know the kind of sound – the sound a little 4 year old makes when he thinks he is playing a game of tag and keeps slipping from your touch, evading. At least, I think he was 4.
Racing down the aisle, weaving between customers, he stopped in front of my cart. Grabbing hold, he stepped to stand on the end, just like my boys did when they were little, wanting to ride. . . but he was not my boy.
I could just see the headlines, “Boy flips cart, critically injured.” Or maybe, “Woman accused of imminent child-theft” all because he was suddenly wanting to ride my cart.
Treading carefully – because he wasn’t mine to scold, I told him he needed to step off the cart. He did. I kept looking for his mother, expecting her to call him. Nothing. In a quandary, I calmly pushed the cart forward. He decided to go with me like he was my boy.
“You need to go back to your mom. You shouldn’t be here with me,” I suggested.
“Do you think I’m going to hell?” he asked, making eye contact, stopped still in front of me.
My world stopped. Letting Go of my concerns, I looked at him squarely in the eye. Wanting to say so much, wanting to say it so right, but only having grocery-store aisle time. I finally said, looking back at him straight in the eye, “You can go to heaven if you want to.”
“Can I go home with you?” he asked. If my spirit had arms, which in this case, I think it did, well those spirit arms pulled him into my heart, into the circle of my family. Prayer for 9 now. Still 5 pairs of socks for matching, but prayer for 9.
That little boy, standing in front of my cart, in sudden stillness, revealed his brokenness, revealed a cry to be made whole – at little years old.
“Then little children were brought to Him that He might put His hands on them and pray, but the disciples rebuked them. But Jesus said, “Let the little children come to Me,
and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of heaven.” (Matt. 19: 13-14)
His mother and grandmother came around the corner then. He took off, lots of noise, lots of energy followed by lots of parental hollering.
“Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit” (John 12:24)
Letting go of my thoughts, my reverie, my concerns, my challenges. I prayed. That God would send laborers across this little boy’s path. That his eyes would be opened to the truth – that he is a child of God. That heaven is his for the asking. That angels would encamp about him and protect him. That healthy boundaries would be set for him. No matter how much little boys balk at having healthy boundaries set, they cry out for someone to love them enough to set them.
Letting go of my
To wrap God’s love around His
All because Jesus let go first for me.
I’ve often thought of that little boy – and prayed that a seed was planted, that it took root deeply, that God’s laborers watered it with a Holys Spirit Miracle Grow water. The lost lambs, the lost boys. . . and girls. God worked on my heart during that season. Like a clock maker works on the insides of a clock, He worked on the insides of my heart – so that it would grow and grow to love more than “my” own, but to love those that cross my path, whether they be grocery aisle paths, sports side-line paths, community paths, all the paths I walk.
God calls us to love all those He gives us in the daily. . . and loving entails praying for. Who are you praying for. . . it’s not enough to only pray for those whose socks you match or have matched. . . ?