Let’s be honest… when we are suffering, it is far easier to take than to give isn’t it! Yet the example of Jesus’ life and His sacrificial death points us in another radical direction. Jesus’ followers are called to BE Givers, not takers in life. When considering these matters, we need to remember that there is a key difference between taking and receiving – for in the Kingdom of God we need to learn how to receive before we can BE Givers!
Where giving seems utterly impossible, Jesus comes to us by His Spirit and asks us to receive all He desires to give us so that we can give it away! Beth learned this secret well and even this week as I have struggled through various commitments that required me to give, I have had to stop frequently and remember that I first need to receive from Him in order to have anything good to give to others!
It is good to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, “It is better to give than to receive.” (Acts 20:35) More words of wisdom from the Saviour’s mouth give us even deeper understanding, “Freely you have received, now freely give.” (Matthew 10:8) It seems there should be an ‘ebb and flow’ to our giving friends, like ‘breathing in’ and ‘breathing out’. Hands and spirits that are wide open to receive are then able to generously give out in freedom. In contrast, hands and spirits that take and grasp tend to hoard and live in fearful places.
Our friend Dennis penned this poem about giving for Beth while she was with us. It is based on Beth’s vision that I mention in this week’s chapter in Heartbreakingly Beautiful. It is also titled; GIVEN NOT TAKEN. I am sure you will enjoy these excerpts from a treasured friend who encourages us all to BE Givers like Jesus…
Imagine a crowded fair ground where people from all over the globe are mingling in throngs.
There are all sorts of pursuits of happiness to engage this diverse world…
The whole world seems to have turned up for
THE CIRCUS OF LIFE
Right in the centre of the fair ground is a giant Ferris wheel,
Standing high and proud,
A central cross in its hub supporting the wheel;
On this cross is Jesus,
A sign is flashing,
“GIVEN NOT TAKEN”.
Ragged people are queuing up to take their turn on this amazing ride,
Strangely, it is free and this puzzles those who feel there must be a catch.
Immediately they enter the circle of faith
their rags and threads are transformed into beautiful attire of gleaming white,
They’ re lifted out of their troubled lives.
They mount up like eagles and soar to heights never before dreamed possible.
“This is my body given for you, not taken by my accusers.
This is my blood I gave freely for you, not robbed by betrayers.”
A teenage girl stumbles to join the queue,
She causes some consternation in the people already in the queue,
They seem uncomfortable with her presence.
She is broken and her entire left side appears to be dragging in the dirt.
She wears a purple woolen tea cozy down around her ears.
When she removes the hat, her hairless sight shocks people,
It is too much for some who recoil away,
But for others they are drawn to stand beside and give assistance.
Suddenly all the wild music of the fair grounds melts away to nothing,
Life appears to be completely different here under the Ferris wheel.
She opens her mouth:
“My life is GIVEN NOT TAKEN,
Jesus holds my life in His hands,
It is His to give or to take.
Blessed be His Name.”
Dennis Arkapaw, 2010.
A song to encourage you:
Dear Jess wrote this song for ‘her Bethy’ – a song that again reflects the whole message of GIVEN NOT TAKEN. Jess was Beth’s teacher and became a precious friend and mentor. She now carries on this role with Beth’s sister, Rachael. Jess has another claim to fame – she is the one who first shared the fistula need with Beth and fueled her passion to assist the broken women suffering from this awful condition. Enjoy listening to Heartbreakingly Beautiful this week on your CD and see if you can hear some of Beth’s heartbeat to receive from Jesus and to give in His name.