SEPTEMBER 25, 2003, a Thursday, was the day, even in the pain of a loss I could not yet contemplate, that God gave me a gift.
I was attending my eldest daughter’s school sports carnival. It was only three days after my first marriage had collapsed. I was in deep pain, yet I still had responsibilities to fulfil as a father.
But something else was also working within me that had been dormant for thirteen years; something that I had not experienced before. It was the power of the risen Christ in me. Suddenly, almost as if it were overnight, I began to live a reality that I hadn’t yet even conceived.
I recall feeling moved to return home briefly to pick up some items to give away. I was being moved by the Holy Spirit. In the act of giving these things away — and not looking one bit for approval or appreciation or thanks — I knew that I knew that I knew I was doing exactly what I was supposed to be doing.
Finally I was giving away what I could not keep in order to gain what I could never lose.
I had been Christian for all those thirteen years and had never even conceived that that was the true Christ-life. In no time at all, at the worst time in my life, I was given the precious gift I could not have otherwise received. I had to be plunged into the abyss without hope for rescue to ultimately understand the premise of the Christ-life. If that isn’t good news I don’t know what is.
That precious gift I refer to is the gift of understanding this: the more we give away with a heart that seeks nothing in return, the happier God gives us to be.
We can understand this in another way. Imagine materialism and spiritualism as opposites. The more life we give to one, the more death is in the other. The more we crave to retain the things of this world, the less content we’ll truly be. But the more we give away in this life, the more God gives us in this world of His to come. And that world truly enters our world through peace, hope and joy when we give our lives away for others.Two things that need to be necessarily stated are that the practice of giving my life away was sustained throughout that early season, but in truth, there have been aspects of my life since where I’ve found it hard and possibly impossible to give away. Thankfully God is gracious to remind us that it’s okay that we have not yet ascended to perfection — and that that standard is not required of us. But we’re still blessed to aspire to it.