I keep on giving my life away and in so many beautiful ways God seems to keep giving it back. I drove away from the office today facing an extended time of Sabbath and I was only halfway home before I could feel the tears pushing at the corners of my eyes. I can still feel them puddled in my chest waiting for the days ahead to purge several years of labor.
Many years ago, I realized that I had a deep vacancy in my chest left by a father who failed to give his portion. I also knew that if I were going to give to my own children one day, I would have to have that vacancy filled. How can a fatherless boy become a father? He first had to find a Father.
When God first introduced Himself to me, He found away to do it that was like pouring cool water into that vacancy. Friends with families, and fathers surrounded me and shared life with me. I drank deeply in the growing realization that the God they told me about could give me what my own kids would need one day.
But even as He promised to fill me, He asked me to give my life away. He told me that if I gave my life away to Him, He would give me His life in return. And He did.
Amazingly, as He gave His life into the cavity in my soul, that Life did not seem content to simply fill an empty place. That Life seemed to want to move. It seemed to want to go out, and not just stay in. Almost as if He said, “Give your life away to others, and I will pour more of my life into you”.
So as the kids came I began to give to them what I was receiving from my Father. Some days I was tired, but I gave.
I begin to build a counseling practice and learn how to be a healer of the broken and a shepherd of God’s flock. I am pretty sure I heard the Lord say, “Give your life to My people and I will give it back to you.”
This was never more evident than the day my house flooded and a hundred people came to our family’s aid. Many of these were people I had prayed with, or prayed for, or given in some tangible way, whatever my life could offer. I had given my life away and on a single day, God sent a small army to give back where I had given away. I sat overwhelmed on a mudstained driveway and cried with gratitude and fatigue.
These last few years my kids have grown up in front of my eyes. I have an amazing son, who creates and encourages with every breath. As I have tried to give away to Ian I have seen life come back to me through his tender heart.
I have an amazing daughter serving the missions community in Kona, Hawaii. Last month I went to speak there, and it was her job to host the speaker. What a joy to see her so vibrant and powerful, living in a community, and charged with taking care of her father for a week.
I have another daughter who married two years ago, and watching the young family develop with she and her husband has been amazing. They both create beautiful and important things and give to the world in both service and soul. I admire them and it gives me life to see them live their lives.
I have another son, stepping into legal adulthood just a few days ago, who makes this father’s heart pound with admiration and pride. He serves in his job with passion and life, and he loves deeply and gives of himself to others. I watch him (whether he knows it or not) and it gives me life to see him become a man in front of my eyes.
I tried to give my life away to my kids, but God keeps giving it back to me through them. Someone told me the other day that I have become the father that I did not have. It took my breath away. God filled a vacancy in me and allowed me to love my kids and today see them become men and women.
And today. Today, I drove away with seven years of labor behind me. Twenty three years if you count all my years as a counselor. In my hand were letters and a beautiful book full of notes of gratitude. Halfway home I felt the tears push into my eyes. I have been giving my life away, and I am tired.
Then I sat down and read. Men and women, married couples, co-workers and friends, even my bosses, gave me my life back. Your work has mattered. What you gave me has changed me. Story after story of a conversation, a class I taught, a phone call that changed a life. I read and the tears now came pouring out. I am giving my life away, but there is no way I can give more than I keep receiving back.
It matters. Giving my life away for the One who gave His life to me matters. The world will be changed one life at a time.
I am tired, and the Lord told me I can stop now. I can cease from labor. It is time to let Him give me rest, and it is time to let Him Father me some more. I told the students in Kona, that if a father does his job the kids can rest.
It is time to cease from labor. True Sabbath rest, while He restores my soul. I keep giving my life away. Thank you to all who keep giving back.