Ask and it shall be given to you. Seek and you will find.
These past few months I’ve said yes a lot. To going. To giving. To community. To hosting. To visitors. To less sleep. To more people. To not knowing. To being patient. To releasing control.
My heart is so full from loving and being loved. But in the dark of the night I woke up to my body aching and fevering. In my sleepless tossing and turning I knew in my spirit that my flesh needed to catch up to my heart. It’s slower and weaker, more practical and honest, this body of mine. It reveals vulnerability and limitations that my heart wants nothing to do with.
I have a friend who wrestles with this on a daily basis. Her body has failed her with an ongoing illness. She’s had it so long, it’s become a part of who she is. And where many would call it a weakness, she’s able to claim it as a victory. For through her broken body, God has shaped for her a strength of character, a dependence on Jesus, and a will to live and love strong.
I love the way my friend’s heart transcends her body. How she continues to say yes. How she reluctantly but humbly slows down when her body needs her to. How she wants no regrets in this life. How the way she chooses to live full, initiates episodes of illness…but the blessing outweighs the cost.
Isn’t this how it should be? That living and loving on this broken earth ought to hurt a little? Or maybe a lot? It only makes sense that the sacrifice and outpouring of the hospitable life will eventually cause some pain.
But even as I write those words, I feel a little controversial. It’s not the Western way. We are trained to look after ourselves before others, reminded to put our own oxygen mask on before assisting our neighbor, encouraged to live with fewer risks and greater health.
These teachings make sense to me in so many ways. For how can I take care of others if I, myself, am unwell? But the rebuttal of my heart is: how can I take care of others if I’m always taking care of myself?
Sure, it’s good to know your limitations. It’s okay to have some boundaries. But it’s also okay to push on them. To stretch them. For these are the moments when we learn to look to Jesus for strength. To seek him for endurance. These are the times when our victories, despite our weaknesses, can only point to God.
If we only live and love within our boundaries and limitations, we won’t grow past ourselves. We won’t understand what genuine sacrifice is. We won’t experience a Christ-like love. We won’t be able to appreciate the cross. And we especially won’t develop a longing for heaven.
For how can we desire heaven if we’re living in the comfortable on this earth?
Oh, I grumble in pain and sickness. And I am not very gracious in discomfort. But Jesus meets me in these places and reminds me how the crucified life hurts. My experience of pain and discomfort is so limited, I’m nearly ashamed. So I’m determined to grasp these less than perfect moments, these hard to understand failures, these unfair realities, these I-got-hurt-while trying-to-help situations – grasp them and ask the Lord to show me more of him through these experiences. And when he does I am blessed.
And literally, it makes my heart and body ache for more. So I lay in my bed today not asking for rest. Not seeking healing. I know they will come. Instead I ask for more. More yes. More giving. More discomfort. More sacrifice. More loving. More failures. More hospitality. More availability. For these are the places Jesus lives. And ultimately, what I really want is more Him.
May we not settle for the comforts of the earth, but delight in the pleasures of the Lord. May we exhaust ourselves in love, wait to be filled and pour out again.