Perfect Love Served Imperfectly

1 Peter 4:10 God has shown you his grace in many different ways. So be good servants and use whatever gift he has given you in a way that will best serve each other. 

Every February is brutal on my husband. First it’s Valentine’s Day (we celebrate the kids), four days later it’s our anniversary (we celebrate us), and five short days later it’s my birthday (they celebrate me).  He gets into it with the kids and every year I am spoiled by the creativity of it all, collages, notes, photo books, or concerts put on by three little girls and one very overwhelmed (assuming by their creativity?) dad.

By the end of the month, I imagine that my husband is having nightmares about homemade gifts, crafting scissors, hot glue guns and bouquets of flowers attacking him in a choreographed dance, singing, “Because I’m happy, clap along if you feel like a room without a roof.” He puts up with a lot.

Sometime during all of these celebrations, the season of Lent also begins. I find it to be a perfect opportunity to take a good look at what God has been doing in our family, marriage and in me over the last year. I ask him questions about the next year and what he might be preparing for me. And at some point I ask Him to search me and find the areas where I’m not surrendered. Each year I find something—ok, fine, lots of things.

During this reflective time, for the last five years, I have felt the Lord asking me to write, er, blog to be specific. I tucked His request away since I had more fear, excuses and questions than confidence in my abilities or (I realized) in Him. Each year his leading was stronger and louder than the last. It was getting harder to ignore. As I drew closer to Him and His way, it also got harder to hold on to the excuses that kept me from being obedient and serving Him in this way. I’m sure that’s by design. Then the asking came (for what felt like) every day for the past year. Dang, I’m stubborn.

I finally did surrender though and I’ve been a mess of obedience ever since. As it turns out, I don’t obey very simply. I’m a bundle of emotion and fear. Every teetering step feels like a journey of tears and terror, surrender and joy. Silly, I know, since I’m only sitting in front of a computer not administering Ebola vaccines in Africa. Surrender and obedience to our Father looks different for each of us…stop judging me. 

A few weeks ago, as my kids were preparing their Valentine’s, the Lord showed me just what my disobedience had looked like all that time.

There have been plenty of years our Valentine’s were Pinterest-inspired. This year though, they were simple. While I was at the store I bought their favorite candy to pass out to their friends. They still had to write their names on them and assemble the packages. My girls wrote out each of their Valentine’s with care and after an hour or so all 74 of them were prepared and ready to be delivered. They were so eager to hand them all out to their friends the next day.

Now, wouldn’t it be a shame if my kids spent all that time preparing their little packages of love, excited to share their gifts on Valentine’s Day and when it was time to pass out those suckers, they didn’t. Not that day, not the next, not at all. They just couldn’t or wouldn’t surrender them.Ugh.

Introducing, ERIN!  Tada! Yep, that’s me. Not quite the obedient, servant of the Lord I had imagined in my mind—loving my comfort more than others, loving my excuses more than Him. There I was sitting in the middle of my classroom of peers, clutching my Valentine’s tight, year after year—a bratty kid, refusing to share or serve the gift in my hands. And it wasn’t even mine to withhold! He’s the Love. He’s King Jesus. He’s THE gift.  He asked me to be a servant willing to share it, address it, package it, deliver it, or help my classmates receive it.

That’s the ONLY real reason I am at this Valentine Party called life, to give the gift of Love away; using whatever means he intends (whether it’s simple packaging with my name on it, or a delivery so creative that it requires me to walk step by step with the Creator); to whomever he’s placed around me (husband, kids, and the classroom I’m sitting in), day in and day out, all year, every year (no summer break). It seems so simple. And it is. But that doesn’t make it easy…that’s probably why it took me so long to surrender the journal pages filled with the plans that I had made. See, I had a master list, but I am not the master. I’m a servant.

In the same way it’s probably not easy for my hubby to make FOUR girls feel so loved and appreciated individually, each year during these big celebrations in February. The crafting, hand-written cards, heart-shaped balloons, and sheer “pinkness” of it all makes me want to send him fishing so he can cover himself in scales and guts instead of glue and glitter. Yet he does it. He gets out of his comfort zone to serve us. He’s surrendered. And I’m learning to do that too–allow the obedience, the serving, the giving, the delivering, and the loving to be messy, out of my comfort zone, and not what I pictured. Let it be imperfectly me, so it can be perfectly Him.

Let me serve up some of that Love for ya:

Ephesians 3:19 Christ’s love is greater than anyone can ever know, but I pray that you will be able to know that love. Then you can be filled with everything God has for you.  

How is he asking you to share His Love?