taken at once from being indoors (even in the most comfortable of surroundings) to the outdoors, seated on a bench that is perched on a green, grass-covered island, surrounded by a neatly manicured pond, seated here beside two naked birch trees, near passing, babbling water, i am moved from feeling pent up and sedentary to a place where i feel as though God is moving freely through my thoughts. almost in sync with the current as it glides slowly beside me. and that’s the way it usually is for me: put me outside, by water, and i seem to be in my most natural state, a state that flourishes in His presence.
a faint whisper
it wasn’t long ago that i was running by the bay after a day of work. my favorite spot to enjoy one of my favorite activities. it is from this spot, on a clear day, that i can take in stunning views of both snow-capped mountains in the distance and sweeping views of the bay, with sail boats slowly gliding in and out of the harbor. their masts like flagposts, all neatly nestled in row after row. and it is jogging along the walking path that lines the perimeter of the harbor that i find my most intimate times with The Father. times where i feel as though he speaks directly to me, almost as though he’s whispering directly in my ear. or, more appropriately, directly into my thoughts.
it was during a recent run that i had this line repeated over and over again in my thoughts:
“pour yourself out for me, and I will pour Myself into you.”
and as this line has repeated itself to me over the past couple weeks, i have been contemplating what it means. what does it look like to pour myself out? what does it look like to be emptied of myself, for Him?
off the bench and into the game
recently, i was taking this thought to mean that i needed to do away with all of myself (exchanging my desires for His, exchanging my pleasures for His, etc), so that He can work more clearly through my life, and into the lives of others. and recent experiences seemed only to support this.
several weeks ago i began volunteering at a local food bank, which has been, up to this point, one of the single most fulfilling experiences of my life. it is as though my eyes have been open for the first time to the reason i have all that i have: to serve. to love (in a very real, a very practical way) those who are hurting, those who are in need. while working there (if i can call it ‘work’), i couldn’t help but feel as though my eyes had been opened for the first time. it was then that i saw how He desires to use us, His followers, to be a light in the dark, to bring comfort to the hurting.
it was as though i had been in the classroom studying gametape after gametape, and in the gym day after day practicing plays, over and over again. and now, at long last, the coach had called me into the game, and i see now what it was all for. the purpose for all the practice, for all the teaching. it was all there for this: to put it all into use for Him, to care for His people. and i couldn’t feel more fulfilled.
as i poured myself out (by moving existing obligations and activities in my schedule to make room to volunteer, as well as moving out of my comfort zone and putting myself in an unfamiliar place where i knew exactly zero people), He filled me up wholly and completely with Himself (with joy, with comfort and with an incredible sense of encouragement), almost as if to say, “see. I told you.”
same experience, different results
and yet, when i consider this experience, i realize that someone else could have the been placed in the exact same situation without having the same experience. someone else could be tasked with serving the hungry and fail to see how this is a prime example of being His hands and feet. instead of feeling fulfilled, they could feel out of place, or somehow uncomfortable, rather than properly used, if almost for the first time in their life, as i have.
in the same way that one person will feel most comfortable, most close to Him, from the comfort of a warm couch, hot cocoa in one hand, His Word in the other, seated beside a crackling fire, or, perhaps knelt in prayer, either in a church pew or beside their bed, or even listening to their favorite song, i feel most near to Him under a clear, blue sky, breathing in the cool air washing in off of the ocean waters. it is just how we are, precisely how He created us. each of us with our unique traits, preferences and interests.
and that is when i began to see that His desire for me to pour out myself was not a call for me to become something of a Christ-following automaton. quite the opposite, in fact. His desire is to work through me, using the gifts, personality and desires that He created me with in such a way that i would uniquely share with others His goodness and His glory. the humor and compassion i use to convey Christ’s goodness may be quite different from the approach someone else might take. and yet, one is not necessarily better or worse than the other (they may be received differently, based on the particular recipient, but one is not better or worse in and of itself).
each approach is divinely appointed and orchestrated by His hand. He gave me this personality for a reason. He gave me this heart for a reason. He gave you your self for a reason, and each and every intricate detail it consists of, all for the sole purpose of His glory being displayed and shared for others to see. all so that you, and i, can display His goodness to others.
poured out of what?
what then? what are we being poured out of, if it isn’t ourselves?
i can only speak for myself, as i have only seen how He desires to work in my life to use me to work in the lives of others (like a little bit of yeast, working throughout the entire batch of dough), but i can tell you that He is, day by day, pouring out my selfish heart. pouring it out and filling it with more of His compassion, more of His charity and generosity. the glimmer of it that was there before He began His good work is slowly increasing. gradually forming me more and more into His likeness.
it will be a long process, and i am far from being there, but i am confident that He is indeed at work. and the more i pour out myself, by obediently seeking ways in which i can substitute my own selfish, and even prideful, desires so that He may be glorified, He will pour Himself into my life more and more.
i am confident that, if you allow Him, He will do the same for you. He will use the rich, unique gifts He has blessed you with, paired with more of Himself and His presence, in a way that allows others to see Him through your hands and your feet. if you let Him. but you (and i) must take the first step.