I just wasn’t feeling it.
It had been a long day in the middle of a very full week. Youth group loomed on the calendar horizon, an unwelcome commitment on this particular Wednesday. As an introvert, large group gatherings tap everything in me, so going ‘empty’ isn’t a great way to begin an evening of ministry. And 60 middle and high schoolers (whom I’ve come to genuinely adore) are a tougher crowd than most.
I’d love to tell you that I prayed for God to enable me to pour into those adolescent lives for two hours last night. I should have. Sadly, the thought didn’t even cross my mind. Instead, I relied on my temperament to get me there: I don’t flake on commitments. During the “free” time, I moved a bit aimlessly through the various circles of students, checking in verbally but never truly engaging in more than a few moments of conversation. My heart wasn’t in it.
Finally the lights dimmed and the guitar strummed. Internally, I was clamoring for a few quiet moments of solitude… even if it was in a full room. We began to sing and it finally occurred to me to ask God to fill me and enable me to give myself fully to His work that night. I sat down to pray and closed my eyes.
Moments later, I felt the warmth of a hand on my left shoulder. And then another on my right.
The hands stayed, pressed into my back in solidarity. The fingers occasionally tapped to the beat of “One Thirst” — a Morse code message of the lyrics to my heart.
The hands stayed.
My tears weren’t sadness, frustration or even fatigue. They were a distilled mixture of humility and delight, brought forth by the beauty of God’s blessing: that those to whom I’d come to minister were instead His chosen instrument to minister to me in that moment. We cannot out-give God. We don’t give in order to receive, but we can be certain that our offerings — of time, love and forgiveness — will be multiplied to abundance by His divine orchestration.
Lifted in heart, I rose again to my feet, in gratitude for the filling of the Spirit as channeled through the hearts and palms of young men courageous enough to reach into my life. The time later spent with my small group of sixth grade girls was among the richest we’ve ever had.
What a gift I would have missed if I’d stayed home.
How has God blessed you when you intended to be the ‘giver’?
Tell me in the comments below.