I spoke about one of my favourite Bible stories almost 2 weeks ago at church: the one where Elisha defeats the raiding enemy people by hearing their ambush plans from God and after he has captured them, preparing a feast for his enemies instead of killing them (2 Kings 6 if you want to check it out). The bit about the servant’s eyes being opened to see the supernatural fleet of horses and chariots of fire that were God’s protection around them is really cool, but the part that struck me this time around in the story was the feast of kindness. Amidst all of the killing and conflict and rooting out of evil in the story of a nation of people trying to dwell in a sometimes wild and somewhat unconquered land, this unlikely act stands out in bold contrast.
This past week has been a bit of a tough one for me: all the activities and guests and medical appointments and paperwork deadlines and phone calls and travel plans and care-giving just seem to clump together sometimes and the last few days have been like that. I found myself getting a little tired and grouchy from the constant demands and expectations and even found myself listening to the ugly anger-demon at one point. Sigh. And during this most inconvenient of weeks when I was at a dangerously low level of generosity, God very clearly asked me to prepare a feast for one of my friends. After several days, I realised that if I didn’t make time to do it soon, I was going to procrastinate my way right into disobedience, so after another full day of activity and service, I drove to a drugstore that was open late at night and asked God to show me what would make a good feast. It was a fun and productive excursion and I came home with the beginnings of my feast. I added a few personal and handmade touches and completed the project just after midnight and delivered it the next day.
My world did not turn into a glorious glow of warm pinks and oranges radiating kindness and beauty after I had completed the task, in fact, I just got more tired and ungracious. And then God began to speak to me about another feast. I don’t live a very stressful life and most times set my own schedule and just go with what comes my way, but one of the things my fluid schedule has robbed me of (my own fault, I admit) is making time to feed my soul and body. I don’t mean taking a day off from all activity, though that is a very healthy and godly principle, but being able to live from a constant attitude of rest and fullness because I am constantly drawing life from an eternal source and at peace within myself. If I cannot come up with patience and kindness and mercy and gratitude and generosity and grace when I am feeling less than 100% and under pressure, then of what use is my faith? How am I different from the rest of this tired and cranky world who is always in need of more grace than it gets? Love and compassion that become thin after lack of sleep are no good to me. Patience that does not rise to the occasion in the most demanding situation just isn’t real patience.
I have used tiredness, lack of food and drink, my introverted personality, and an occasionally demanding schedule to excuse my sharp words, my cold heart, my lack of interest and unwillingness to serve, when the fact is, I have not pulled up to the feast that is God himself and despite that fact, have tried to pull a feast for others out of my own pantry which is sorely depleted many days. It is to be expected that I will have lack. Every person on this earth is born with lack, but the idea of being a follower of Jesus is not to simply reproduce his good works and kindness by imitation, but to eat of his flesh and drink of his blood and thereby BE life. When I partake of Jesus and offer some of this incarnation to others, it is a gift of an everlasting nature; it is not food that rots or a cheap, glittery trinket that looses its appeal all too quickly. I can give and give and give of this feast and my soul’s cupboards will never become barren, because I am not the supplier; I am simply another guest at the infinite table.
So this is an ongoing quest for me: to have the strength and fortitude and sensitivity to be a giver of love and life no matter what my natural state. Not to serve despite tiredness and busyness, but to radiate love because I am overwhelmed by the incredible brightness of being the apple of my lover’s eye and the constant object of his attention; to never leave the ocean of a love so deep and wide that all the days of my life will not be enough to explore every inch of it. I am loved totally and wholly at all times - how can I not be a lover 24/7?
"I can't see unless it's you there with a spark to keep me lighted up" - Gabriel Mann