I do write things down that I’ve already done, and I love this meme because it makes me think maybe you’re doing it, too.
I also like to remind myself of the things that I already know. It’s been one of “those” days and so here I am at nap time, finally getting a cup of coffee and writing down one of these things to tell truth to myself so I don’t get as off-base as I feel like I might end up being today.
“Do all things without grumbling or disputing, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast to the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain. Even if I am to be poured out as a drink offering upon the sacrificial offering of your faith, I am glad and rejoice with you all. Likewise you also should be glad and rejoice with me.” Philippians 2:14-18 ESV
To me, this is one of the most humbling sets of verses in the whole Bible. Paul writes this right on the heels of his passage about how Christ Jesus emptied Himself, laid down everything for our sakes, and went to the cross. Paul implores us to have the same mind as Jesus did and count others more significant than ourselves, laying down our lives, our desires, our goals and dreams, for each other – and to do it without grumbling and disputing.
My temptation is to mentally hang onto all the things I’m laying down and keep a checklist of how wonderful I’ve been all day.
I didn’t yell at anyone, I was cheerful, I spent X amount of minutes with child #3, I successfully homeschooled, I sacrificed my time and energy, and don’t they know how amazing I have been when I could have been/done __________, yay me, blah blah blah.
But the truth is, that while I might be laying down my life, if my focus is on keeping a list of the things I’ve done and the things I’ve given up, it isn’t real sacrifice and it inevitably snowballs into bitterness. And in the end, my husband comes home and I have all this pent-up, self-congratulatory bitterness and the slow leak becomes a gush (because now there’s an adult to talk to) and then nobody is blessed. Not my family. Not me. And certainly not Jesus.
A year and a half ago, I was heavy-pregnant and standing in the back of church, trying to be comfortable while a sermon was being preached on those verses above. And honestly, I can’t remember if it was actually said this way, but I was hit very hard with the very clear realization that God is calling me to be poured out.
It’s not like I didn’t know it already, but I became very sure that this life I’m living is my offering to Him. Every hard moment, every tantrum, every frustrating reading lesson, nursing a baby, dinners cooked, my weak attempts at a cool head and a calm, cheerful outlook. All these opportunities. All. Of. This.
This is my offering. I am being poured out. And as I raise my children to know Christ, this pouring out is for the strengthening of their faith and the continual pouring out, if done faithfully, leads to gladness and rejoicing.
But how can I be poured out when I feel empty? When the latest “incident” with the kiddos has left me feeling completely fried? When all I’ve accomplished all day is feeding people (and all I wanted all day was to get the laundry done)? When I am certain in my soul that there is never going to be enough of me to go around?
There’s no short, easy answer for that. Not the kind of answer, at least, that will give a formula for always having it together or a checklist for making sure I always feel filled with what I need.But I know Who to go to so I can be filled up.
And the truth is, and this is what I keep telling myself – there is never going to be enough of me to go around. But there will always, always be enough Jesus for all of us.
And that is truly a reason for comfort and reassurance and a reason to be glad and rejoice in the ways God calls us to be poured out.
There are seasons in life of heaviness, and rejoicing seems far away. Whether it’s chronic physical pain, miscarriages, death of a loved one or death of a relationship, depression, trying to meet everyone’s expectations, trying to keep a brave face in the midst of a painful trial, loneliness, or just the struggles to have joy in everyday life – you’re not alone. You have a Savior who has promised to never leave or forsake you. He calls you to come to him when you are heavily burdened with cares, and he promises rest. It’s so hard sometimes to see what that rest looks like, but these are real promises that you can trust and hold onto.
“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28 ESV)
“…I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:20 ESV)
“casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.” (1 Peter 5:7 ESV)
Whatever stage you are in, and wherever you are called to be poured out, go to Jesus to be filled up. Fill yourself with his word, surround yourself with people who will speak his truth to you, and ask him for strength and confidence in what he has called you to. And rejoice in that calling, because a calling to be poured out is a calling to be like Christ Jesus, emptying ourselves and rejoicing in his promises.