When we came back to St Pete to begin BridgePoint Church we knew getting into our own home may take awhile but we never dreamed it would take 3 1/2 years. In that time we have moved into 3 different rentals and finally our own place. They say that one of the top 5 stress producers is moving. I'm not sure what moving 4 times in 3 1/2 years has done to our stress level but I'm sure it is pretty high.
We have had to do a lot of work on the new house and there is still much to do but we are in and are slowly getting settled. Part of that process has been dealing with all of the stuff that has been stored away. You know what I'm talking about, that stuff that we just move from place to place but really never unpack. It could be keepsakes or things we think are too good to throw out or give away but never really use.
During this move we have made a commitment to finally get rid of some of those things. After a couple of trips to Goodwill we have much less to deal with and are down to just a few boxes that need to be sorted through. I must admit it's a good and freeing feeling.
As I was emptying some boxes the other day I thought of how the process I was going through was much like my journey with Christ. I was reminded of a poem in Tim Hansel's book "Holy Sweat." The poem is about a person who is on a tandem bike ride with Christ. At a certain point in the journey the rider decides it is better with Christ on the front of the bike, taking the lead. That's when the excitement and adventure begins.
As the poem progresses the bike rider experiences some of the benefits of Christ having control. Here's what it says:
"He took me to people with gifts that I needed,
gifts of healing, acceptance and joy.
They gave me gifts to take on my journey,
my Lord's and mine.
And we were off again.
He said, 'Give the gifts away;
they're extra baggage, too much weight.'
So I did, to the people we met,
and I found that in giving I received,
and still our burden was light."
During this season of gift giving and receiving I hope you receive the gifts you need. But, I hope you realize that often times the reason you received that gift in the first place was so you could give it away. You see, Christ blesses our lives so that we can be a blessing to others but often times we take the gifts He gives us and selfishly pack them away thinking we might need them some day. It's really an issue of trust.
If we truly believe Paul when he writes, "And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus," the idea of giving things away becomes quite easy. In fact, it can be kinda fun and definitely freeing.
This past Sunday I shared a message from 1 John 4:9-11. In that message I talked about God's "crazy love" for us and how His gift of Jesus was not only given to us to meet our needs but it was given so that we might give it away. Here is that passage from The Message:
"This is how God showed his love for us;
God sent his only Son in the world so we
might live through him.
This is the kind of love we are talking about -
not that we once upon a time loved God,
but that he loved us and sent his Son
as a sacrifice to clear away our sins
and the damage they've done to our
relationship with God.
My dear, dear friends,
if God loved us like this,
we certainly ought to love each other."
I think that passage nails the point I am trying to make. God has given us this incredibly gift. It's a gift of love, forgiveness and hope. It's the gift that not only we need but the gift the whole world needs and is looking for. We can pack it away thinking it is only for us or we can share it with the world.
This Christmas I hope you will grasp how awesome and crazy God's love for you is and how He wants to supply all of your needs. I also hope you grasp the incredible opportunity and responsibility we have to take the gift of love, the gift of Jesus and share it with those around us. It will be freeing, fun and the fulfillment of His purpose for your life.