“The Miracle lives in your spatula as much as it lives in their fork.”

I do not have comment wars here on the blog. I barely need to screen for spam because most of the comments are the sweetest encouragement. Yesterday, I read this comment out loud to friends and I read it out loud again today so the conversation could continue. Here is just a little snippet of what Lexi said, but you should definitely read the rest.

It is hard to put ourself second, or third, or ninetieth because of the fact that that is still ultimately where ‘we’ ‘I’ want to be. There is no complete Joy in the thought of putting yourself anywhere. You say ‘I love you’ to someone–or a thing– because you desire it–fully. It brings you to a place of desire for that moment in which you can speak to it and let it be known how you desire to be with it. You are not thinking about how much you are loving that thing– or person– more than the last- Or how well you are doing it on that day. You are thinking of it. Solely the ‘it’. It’s a longing–and it’s deep–and very very Joyful.

You are not first because you are providing pancakes (or your house) and the other is not second for eating them. You enjoyed baking them (or else you would not have done it) and the friend enjoyed eating them (because we all must eat and what better to eat than breakfast for dinner!) You both are at the crux of love in the form of friendship, neighborhood and company. It is in Jesus’ delight (if I may boldly dare to say what he feels) that you both are simply enjoying. The Miracle lives in your spatula as much as it lives in their fork.

Maybe I am chasing after “second” when I really should be chasing after Jesus, who for the joy set before him endured the cross and scorned its shame (Hebrews 12:2). It seems like the life of Jesus was about the pleasure of His father – the joy always before Him actually changed the circumstances around him.

We never hear Jesus say, “I must be thoughtful about putting others ahead of myself.” He lived a life of love in all the ways He enjoyed pleasing His Father and we are supposed to imitate his life. “Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” (Ephesians 5:1-2 ESV)

Sometimes I aspire to endure. I aspire to get joy by way of inconvenience and hardship instead of enduring all circumstances for the joy already set before me. Jesus longed for something that already existed (joy) through the grace and provision of the Father, and in doing so He served and loved well.

Joy is not something you strive to have, but something that happens when you are longing for something else.

Joy happens as we realize there is an eternity and that eternity is imprinted on our hearts (Ecclesiastes 3:11). Joy might happen when we see someone smile or when we hold a child or when we meet the neighbors or when we set a full table or when we walk around a rainy city all day with friends from home.

That’s where I was today, slopping around on rainy sidewalks with people I love. I didn’t set out to get joy or to be inconvenienced. I set out because joy was waiting to happen and then it did. We were a sloppy wet mess of joy soaking in spring rain.

Lexi’s comment yesterday made me think about the way I think about joy (too much thinking, I know). Or maybe it made me think about it less. Mainly, it made me admit that it is okay not to concentrate on inconvenience and hardship and pain as it relates to being first or second or ninetieth.

It is better best to concentrate on taking joy in what pleases the Father, whether you are holding a spatula or a fork.

———

There was another comment I read out loud, but it was because Sue Barnett, BA English thought I wanted the whole world on LSD. I’m not sure how she came to that conclusion, but you can read the comment at this post what if the grass was pink.

miracles trump excuses

The morning is waking up and there are horns bleating outside the front window. Every several days, someone blocks the one-way road and the traffic behind that someone alerts the whole neighborhood of the inconvenience. But I’m inside listening to William Fitzsimmons so that somehow makes me immune to early morning annoyance.

It is Friday and there are Iowans invading NYC to see the Mayor and his team play tonight at Madison Square Garden, Spring keeps promising to be around the corner, and the work day will be short because other work days this week have been long. Today is good because it is today, because there is provision in sunshine and life and breath and being. Today is already good before it begins.

But today, I am still percolating a Monday conversation – still stewing about what it means to consider others’ needs ahead of mine in the context of city life and neighbor life and human life. How do I walk with Jesus to the cross as He made himself nothing in service to others? How do I forsake all else so that the love of Christ might be known?

There are excuses and legitimate ones, like exhaustion and safety and schedules and mental stability. We put ourselves first because we are too overwhelmed by lights and noise and commotion to do anything else. But, I am taking the legitimate excuses of city living and raising them a miracle. If excuses played poker, I think they might always go “all in” but they would definitely lose against miracles.

Miracles trump excuses.

I can always put myself next because miracles trump excuses and the keeper of miracles has called me His child. I am not invincible – I require sleep and quiet time and sunlight. I am not invincible, but God is and His portion is big enough to overflow mine.

I need to learn how to love others when it is inconvenient and when it is not self advancing and when it is painful and when it does not make sense – not because I am trying to be superhuman, but because I believe that miracles trump excuses. God provides the energy and wisdom and abundance and joy and this miracle overcomes every excuse like a tidal wave. We are freed from the striving that would be losing, so that we can share the burdens of others.

The weekend is dawning and I am already looking to the coconut cornmeal pancakes I will make for the next Pancake Mondays. I will probably still be percolating this community idea when the neighbor crowd gathers around the toppings to talk about city living.

What are your thoughts, friends?

Why is it so hard to put ourselves second or third or fourth (with joyful hearts)?