Giving what you cannot keep to gain what you cannot lose.
I love to cook, given leisure enough. I make family meals a priority—we try to gather around the table each night, even if it’s for something simple.
But busy nights with carpooling and obligation often mean that each of us is foraging individually for leftovers, rather than gathering. Several of the past few nights have been either leftovers or crock pot meals, but rarely has our whole family eaten together. So today, as wind and rain rage outside, I can sense the need for comfort food, and for a gathering, connection around the kitchen table.
I stop the editing project I’m working on by about 4 p.m., and turn my creative efforts from words to food.
I slice whole heads of garlic, lemons, half of an onion. Tumbling the onions and garlic into a large baking dish, I butter, salt and pepper a whole chicken, stuff the lemon wedges inside of it, nestle it into the pan. Venture to my windy garden and clip springs of rosemary and thyme, arrange them around the chicken. Roast, filling the house with a wonderful aroma.
I cut up potatoes, carrots, the rest of the onion, more garlic and rosemary, and toss with olive oil, salt and pepper. These roast in a second pan, next to the chicken. This is how I show love to my family: turn $8 worth of ingredients into a feast for four (plus leftovers), make the house smell so good you can’t help but feel warmed just walking in.
At dinner, we talk over the latest adventure God is calling our family to: giving away our third car. With one teenager driving and the other less than a year from starting driver’s ed, this might be an arguably foolish move. But the van is old, and the cost of having three vehicles is tough on our budget.
Then again, is it really a sacrifice to give away a rusty 13-year-old mini-van with 163,000 miles on it? But a single mom with five children who just lost her husband to cancer has crossed our path. She needs a car with five backseats for her little ones, which is exactly what our van has. Sometimes God speaks through needs, if you’re willing to pay attention.
Still, we took the time to talk it through, letting each person in the family give their opinion, voice their concerns, and so on. We finally agreed that giving the van to this single mom is what God is calling us to do.
We have three cars (an amazing blessing) because my 92-year-old grandmother gave us her old car about a year ago (yes, she drove it until my uncle insisted that she give it away!). This unexpected gift has blessed us, allowed my daughter to work a job that required a car last summer. And we’ve gotten rather used to the luxury of having three cars—even though they are all more than 10 years old!
So giving away the van is an exercise in trust, and obedience. We have no doubt that God will provide in the future. God provided that car, and he’ll provide whatever else we need. Not whatever we want, but all that we need.
Missionary Jim Elliott once said, “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose.” Yep.
Earlier this year I read Donald Miller’s book A Million Miles in a Thousand Years. He challenged me to tell a better story with my life, and to invite my kids into that story. I’m eager to figure out what that means—and I think it begins around the dinner table, enjoying the blessings we have, while figuring out what we can give away.