Sunday, November 7, 2010
Cold weather is finally creeping into Texas. The grass was wet with a light frost Saturday morning, and my breath froze in a delicate fog. The fire crackled comfortingly in the fireplace for the first time this weekend. As the cold weather hits, I am reminded to be grateful for God's provision for my family. Tonight as I snuggle under my well worn comforter, in my toasty warm house, I am well aware that I am privileged to enjoy such luxuries.
This morning the chilly air sent me searching for a coat to wear to church. I reached into my closet and pulled out a dark red wool coat. This coat has hung in my closet for the last 18 years. 18 years ago, it was a beauty. I bought it at Dillards, and wore it with pride for many years. Today it is down to a single button, the lining is tattered, and the pockets torn. Though no longer very fashionable, it works great at blocking a cold wind.
This summer I heard of a family who lost everything in a fire. As I collected clothes from my closet to share with the family, I reached for the red coat. I knew that it wasn't anything special, but it would work if you didn't have anything better. I took the coat from the hanger, only to hear the Holy Spirit speak to my heart, "When are you going to stop giving me your second best?" I was not excited about this particular urging. Giving away things one no longer wants is painless. But the Bible teaches that God receives sacrificial worship. I placed the red wool coat back into my closet and pulled out my nice, black, favorite leather coat and added it to the pile.
I do not tell this story to receive glory for myself. I tell the story to illustrate that God wants our very best. In my case, he wanted me to be willing to "get by" with the red coat and give away my favorite coat to someone with great need who would probably have been thankful to just "get by". For me, this was a mile marker event in my Christian faith. I have since begun to realize that my idea of sacrifice for Christ is embarrassingly tiny compared to the type of giving spirit demonstrated in scripture.
This winter every time I wear my old red coat, I want God to remind me about how he sent his very best for me.... Jesus. I want to remember that God is never selfish, and definitely never gives me anything that is second rate. I want to learn what it really means to live as a child of God. What does it really look like to live as though everything I own is simply on loan from God? What does it look like to simply be the steward, not the owner, of all that I have?
I have so far to go in this area of giving God my best. I tend to give God my left overs. He gets whatever time is left over at the end of my day, whatever energy I have left, whatever ministry I can squeeze in around my own personal schedule. I say this not with guilt, but with excitement. I am excited about how God is going to work in my life in this area. I am excited to see how God might use me for the kingdom if I become a little less selfish and a little less attached to my stuff and a little more free about giving to others.
I am silly, giddily excited that I kept the red coat for myself. In hindsight, it seems that giving away my best gave me the best blessing. So this winter as I wear my ancient red coat, I am looking forward to seeing how God is going to change my heart!