I have a friend who takes everything she can from me. Hand-me-down bikes and clothes, unabashed requests to grab her kids from daycare, eagerly accepted snacks and sometimes dinner on the porch once she sees that we’re home after another long day, endless chatter about the goings-on in her life, constant invitations to the zoo, parade, pool, park.
At first, I was rather perplexed by this. Honestly, I was quite put out. That she would so impose herself seemed a gross violation, an overstepping of the bounds we subtly place between streets as neighbors. Much like a person who spills over his undersized airline seat, we don’t want to encroach on our neighbor’s territory. Our pride refuses the shame of apologizing for our mess. Yet, this sweetly persistent, spunky woman intruded over and over again.
I am not proud of this now. When I placed a more overt “boundary” by being ever busy (read: unavailable), a sad distance grew. When I heard of the recent passing of parents for both her and her husband, I could see more plainly their need for community and resource.
I realized that she was much more sincere than I ever have been, ready to receive, hungry to fellowship in the spaces of grief and hope and growing kids and the determination to put one foot in front of the other.
I began to wonder where she was and what her kids were up to. I peeked out from the front room windows, waved wildly every time she drove by. Soon, I was longing for the return of greater fellowship to my grass. I realized her need wasn’t an interruption. It was a God-send.
The joy of being loved is the greatest salve in all the world. Sadly, pride is often the practice of politely refusing what is so plainly offered, and many Christians, myself included, are really good at it. Rather, we must hunger – and not just hunger but eat til we burst.
Take God as yours. Imagine this love rising from the barest spaces of your heart to the darkest reaches of your mind, joining the Spirit of life that groans as you pray and counsels as you sleep. Place it before you in the pink glow of each sunrise and the blinding light of every noon and the gathering shadows of looming night. Allow it to flood the drought that comes so frequently in this relentless sin-soaked world. Relish it as expressed to you by those around you – for what else is Christ’s body?! Hold your imperfections loosely, take fresh hold of daily mercy and delight in his commands that call you to safety.
Just this morning, discouraged by the tedium of ceaseless work, I asked my God, “Do I do anything that pleases you?” His answer? “Rise, and be well-loved.” God hasn’t asked us to save the world or judge it; he has asked us together to hunger and eat.
“He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna, which neither you nor your ancestors had known, to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord.” (Deut 8:3)
“Jesus answered, ‘Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.’ The woman said to him, ‘Sir, give me this water so that I won’t get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water.’
[Again] he said to them, ‘I have food to eat that you know nothing about.’ Then his disciples said to each other, ‘Could someone have brought him food?’ ‘My food,’ said Jesus, ‘is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work.’ ” (John 4:13-15, 33-34)