On The Offering

There was once a woman, marginalised and unnoticed, poor and silent.

She sat on the sidelines and watched as the rich, recognised, important walked into church and dropped their offerings into the bucket. Each making an impressive sound as it landed, a ripple through the room as the the righteous admired…

how successful he is

what a contribution he makes to the kingdom

how God must approve of him, look at his wealth

oh such generous benefactors

unspoken, echoing loudly in the minds of the watchers.

On the edge, this woman fingers the inside of the second hand pocket on her well-mended garment. She knows so well what is in her pocket. Of such little value and all she has of any value.

She hovers on the edge of decision – logic it seems would say keep it for yourself it won’t make a difference here – and faith sings its contending song when you are loved with endless love how can you hold back, trust the one who makes wonderful things from the dust of the earth

and the watching eyes feel like one more mark against a long checklist that confirm her non-status

She straightens, slips to the edges and casts in the smallest of coins – two of them, all she has.

and they land like a petal falling on the stack of offerings that are sure to change the world.

She turns, lip trembling, heart beating wildly and leaves lighter than all the weight of the world, wholly empty but full in a way no-one else has experienced as they have produced their offerings.

She is free.

…. this woman marginalised, unnoticed, poor, voiceless

and the freedom song her heart sings is shared by a watching man – another who knows what is is to give all of it, the whole of life.

He notices, he tells her story, he makes her rich and his voice gives her story immortality.

What are you holding in your pocket today?
How small is your offering?
Who do you offer to and do you know what God makes from dust?

He makes beloved ones. 

So maybe he can do something miraculous with your smallest and complete offering.

Those tiny pennies may not amount to much here but to a God who makes life from dust and breath those tiny pennies/words/gifts/service/patience… those might be ripples whose stories are told in the screenplay of eternity.

live generous today
trust the miracle maker
throw caution to the wind
give it all

All the Words

When you are faced with an opportunity, a second chance, a moment to take a risk what track are your listening to?

What message gets to you before you put up your hand, turn the door handle, take the leap?

If we stepped back from those messages for a bit and listened to them what might we discover about ourselves?

I think maybe we are making pathways through the garden of our lives with our self-words – pathways that begin to define us, roads we walked so long that we forget these are actually roads we have created, these roads are not necessarily truth but we have so long applied them that we are no longer able to hear the truth.

As a man thinks in his heart so is he.

It might not be truth but your buy-in makes it so. Your self-perception might just be robbing you from your commissioned heir-ship.

As a teacher I hear children and adults voicing these self-words so often – oh I could never do maths at school, I’m no good at running, I’m not artistic…. why? Because those subjects were more difficult? Because those things didn’t come naturally? Because we truly believe if it isn’t easy on the first go it’s obviously us being stupid? Really….?

I catch myself with it too – I long to be artistic and yet I say so often ‘I’m not very good at art’. Yes it is true that I struggle to get the page to look like the image in my head but that same me spends hours telling children (mine and others) slowly but surely wins the race, effort and perseverance will get you there.

Maybe I need to stop saying I can’t and wishing I could, and just pick up a pencil and actually do it. Maybe I need to apply my heart and my time and my effort and I will learn and maybe I will surprise myself by discovering that I can.

I believe in the power of learning – because I don’t understand something in the bible now doesn’t mean I will never understand it, it doesn’t make me stupid….

What words are you saying about yourself that start with
I will never…
I can’t…
X is never going to happen for me…

One of my favourite verses goes like this
The tongue has the power of life and death and those who love it will eat it’s fruit

What fruit are you filling up your life with?

How are you limiting the limitless ability of God by your own confessions about yourself?

Being real is okay. Struggling with stuff is okay. Disappointment and confusion are okay too.

But when you cut a track through the garden of your life that says I can never and I will never it’s important to realise that that track is made by you alone. All around us we see examples of people who have been given every reason to say I can’t, but they have, because they chose not to walk that well-worn track.

They got out with their bush-wacker and made a new path – was it tough? Of course it was. Did they want to give up? I’m sure they did.

We are boats meant for more than bobbing about in a shallow tub scared that we will tip over in the open sea. Maybe we will tip and maybe we will learn to right ourselves.

Maybe you are a yacht built for speed, giving delight and joy to others.
Maybe you are cruise liner who will show others new countries.
Maybe you are a tugboat who will guide great ones.
Maybe you are a container ship with wealth and riches to transport to distant shores.

But if you tell yourself for long enough that you are a plastic toy and you can’t do those other things…. then you will limit yourself.

Maybe today is a day to take stock – to check what you think in your heart about yourself, to do an audit on the words you are feeding yourself …

and to start to believe that there are things beyond what you could hope for, imagine, or think stored up for you by the One who has brought you out into a spacious place, who rescued you because he delights in you, who is entirely limitless.

Let’s start eating some good words.
Let’s stop saying never and can’t.

Let’s live as artists. Let’s be limitless.