“How can we thank God enough for you in return for all the joy we have in the presence of our God because of you? Night and day we pray most earnestly that we may see you again and supply what is lacking in your faith.” 1 Thessalonians 3:9-10
Recently the Lord has been pushing me toward people I love. What I mean is that while it is a deep source of joy for me to be with them, my desire seemed extreme, bordering on compulsion. After a week or so of desiring to call or be with them every ten minutes, I asked the Lord about it. He explained to me that this was part of His plan to get me out of my self-imposed isolation. As John Donne wrote, and Thomas Merton echoed, “No man is an island.” (Meditation XVII, 1624) The Lord directed me to sit down with each person and ask them this question, “Knowing me as you do, what is the most important thing that you can teach me?” In other words, “What do you have that I lack?”
Now there is an inherent risk-reward to this type of question. Even if I ask only those I most trust in the world, there is the distinct possibility that my nose will get bent out of shape. They, too, are risking being honest with me and watching my nose twist – not a pretty sight. But the rewards include the possibilities for a deeper walk of faith, real growth, a greater trust of God, and healthier relationships – so I began.
My husband, who ostensibly knows me best, was unable to come up with anything. Now this was either an honest assessment (he thinks I’m perfect as I am), self-preservation (there’s no way he’s jumping in front of that train), or an uncertainty about the source and destination of the conversation coupled with the need for more time to consider the best response (a smart husband who knows that I am neither perfect nor out to run him down).
Next I cornered one of my oldest friends: a very caring, loving, careful woman who is joyfully devoted to God. She paused, listened to the Spirit, and replied firmly, “Grace.” She immediately proceeded to share a story which illustrated clearly my need for more grace and she was absolutely right. I remembered the story before she got to the point and knew she had one. I lacked grace. I agreed, absolutely, and immediately my insides began to rise up in indignation. Wow, really good one. I blew my nose so she couldn’t see it growing out of joint and thanked God for her willingness to tell me the truth in love. She promised to call me on it in the future, as it’s happening, so I won’t miss an opportunity to live out God’s grace with others. Pretty darn courageous, friend.
Now I can imagine you may be thinking that this is a terrible idea that can only end in tragedy and heartbreak (you kill those closest to you for telling you the truth about yourself and now you are heartbroken without any friends or family). But I am beginning to see just how much of a God thing this is depending, of course, on our willingness to hear the truth about ourselves. It really is all about love. If we experience enough of God’s love to know that we are in constant need of what God alone supplies, are we willing to receive it through the loving generosity (and courage) of another? Sure it’s humbling, but going lower is the only way up so why not do it? Why not risk knowing the truth that will set me free?
“At the present time your plenty will supply what they need, so that in turn their plenty will supply what you need. The goal is equality…” 2 Corinthians 8:14
“This service that you perform is not only supplying the needs of the Lord’s people but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God.” 2 Corinthians 9:12
Sounds like a deal to me.