My precious gift turned one on Saturday. Mitchell truly has caused me to ask often, “Who is like God?” just as his name means. There is none who can compare to our Lord’s mercy, grace and goodness. As I thought back to the past year the Lord reminded me of a passage in Malachi 3. Not always on the childhood list of memory verses but it could be familiar to many of you. And as I read it, I began to see why He was reminding me of this passage on Mitchell’s birthday.
“I the LORD do not change. So you, the descendants of Jacob, are not destroyed. Ever since the time of your ancestors you have turned away from my decrees and have not kept them. Return to me, and I will return to you,” says the LORD Almighty. “But you ask, ‘How are we to return?’ Will a mere mortal rob God? Yet you rob me. But you ask, ‘How are we robbing you?’ In tithes and offerings. You are under a curse—your whole nation—because you are robbing me. Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the LORD Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it. I will prevent pests from devouring your crops, and the vines in your fields will not drop their fruit before it is ripe,” says the LORD Almighty. Then all the nations will call you blessed, for yours will be a delightful land,” says the LORD Almighty.
Happy 1st birthday, Mitchell! 😉 Stay with me, here. A few days before Mitchell was born, I was on my second week of on again, off again labor. I would have contractions for hours during the night and they would taper off right as my other kids woke up ready to go. Thank God for my mom and sister who came to the rescue there at the end so I could go back to bed for a little while. It was physically grueling after a long, hot, pregnant summer.
During one of those last bouts where I was again having contractions that didn’t seem to be progressing well, I was sitting in my room and at the point of physical and emotional exhaustion. I opened my Bible to my Psalms which show the signs of all the times they have carried me through different life situations: underlined, worn, full of dates and comments, and even tear-stained in places, those Psalms are the cries of the hearts of mankind since the beginning of time. As I was reading, the Lord drew my attention to some verses reminding me of His strength and my weakness. And I began to tell Him, “I can’t do this on my own. I sure hope You know that You can do this through me because physically I’m not sure I have all this in me. Not just the labor, but being the mom I need to be to these four precious babies. I want to be everything, but I don’t think my everything is enough. Can I take care of them, point them to You, fill the needs they need me to fill? Can I do that for FOUR small lives?” And He said, “Good! Now we get to the good part. Now we embark on the real adventure. Not the one where you get the credit for being a great mom but the one where everyone thinks this is crazy and can’t work. So why is it working? You get to tell them. Tell the people in the grocery store and at the ball field and at lessons and in church. Tell them that it’s Me. Tell them that it’s grace. And it is when you are at the end of yourself that I can really shine. So get ready. Watch this and give Me the glory and you can’t possibly imagine how I will pour out blessing.” So with tears that day I gave it up. My “together” mom status that I thought I had already given up? I gathered up all the remnants and handed them over. All the things that weren’t going to get done, the sacrifices that would need to be made, the “me” time that just doesn’t happen during certain seasons, and everything else that goes with a house full of four young children and the calling that goes with them. I took my first, second, third, and what sometimes feels like my last fruits and said, “If You can do something with this little that I have, please take it. Right now, it feels like a lousy offering. But I guess you are that loaves and fishes Guy so I’ll just watch You work.”
Back to Malachi: “Test me in this,” says the LORD Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it.”
Has He ever?! In the last year there has never been enough me and there has always been enough Him. Mitchell has brought a joy to our family that I really can’t describe. We have treasured and enjoyed each child, and with each child we have had the usual struggles and sleep deprivations, but somehow this year with Mitchell we have all just sat back and delighted in him. From Daddy down to Levi, we argue to be the one who gets him out of bed, snuggles him, or plays with him while Mommy gets work done. He is the popular guy in this house for sure. I feel that as we tested our Father in this journey, as we went beyond what was normal and crossed into unfamiliar territory, as we had to ask Him for daily strength, as we had to cut away extra things that we may have thought we wanted or needed, that in turn He has poured out blessing faster than we could drink it in. And I cannot even begin to count the opportunities that having Mitchell has given us to share Jesus. That little number four literally opens doors right and left. I am almost never in public that I am not questioned or conversed with about just how crazy I am and why. And every time I am given the opportunity to glorify Him for His blessings if I am ready to take it. Yet even this week I have found myself traveling that same path again and asking the Lord if what I have to give Him for the next challenges on the horizon can possibly be enough for Him to use. In my weakness I wonder in what other areas may I not be giving Him first fruits? Maybe I feel that I give Him that ten percent tithe but it is after I’m sure I’ve gotten everything else in. After I’m sure there’s enough for me and my family. And He waits for me to be ready for the good stuff. Waits for me to jump into His deep waters of crazy. Maybe I feel embarrassed to offer what I have because it is so meager, and He waits for me to be ready to let Him multiply it. So as He reminded me of all this I wondered what all He has on the horizon. Some of it we have glimpses of, some of it is a great unknown. Every year with Him is a grand and new adventure, and I think I’m ready. Because I’m not ready. But I know He is.