Why Right Now is the Time to Shatter the Myth of ‘Not Enough’

When he got to the top of that wobbling ladder, he whipped out the pencil from behind his ear and marked an X.

Marked an X on the ceiling of the church.

And then drilled.

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The Farmer made this mark and then broke through the ceiling of the church.

Broke the ceiling with a hook — so he could hang a frame.

Yeah, the pastor and the Farmer spend this evening hanging a couple dozen flimsy frames around the church and the pastor’s wife and this farm hick go around being ridiculously helpful:

Yeah, a little more to the left. Up a little? No, no come down a bit.” Yeah, ridiculously helpful like that — the kind that men can’t help but smile thinly and audibly appreciate.

Now we’re not talking anything chic here — not unless you think  some yard sale left-over frames that were left out but by the curb in Fordwich for the Thursday morning recycling guys, counts as Farm Hick Chic.

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It ain’t rocket science, really: you get to make a mark with just whatever you’ve got.

Before we walk out that night, I slip a copy into every single mailbox at the back of the country chapel.

One copy of this little book for the Van de Kemps, and the Van Maneens, and the Van Den Boogaard’s, and yeah, one for all the families that have no van, the Martins and Tinholts and Fitchs.

The book’s got this frame on the cover. It frames this shiny reflective mirror-space. It frames one simple question: What’s Your Mark? Every time I pick up another copy, I catch glimpses of a woman’s face.

After 127 meals of variations of squash (I’m kidding. Sort of, because this hick’s (sort of not) a creative cook who has a monster crop of squash only because there ain’t a weed that can smother out a healthy crop of squash) —- the point is, after all the squash meals, we sit around the table and read from What’s Your Mark, the text from The Gospel of Mark, and stories of people being made into beauty marks for this world.

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We read Mark Chapter 8.

We turn the pages and we read about Katie Davis letting her life be made into the mark of Christ, His mark impressed into the red soil of Uganda. When you read Katie’s words, you can hear her laugh and gritty glory.

The Van De Kemps and the Van Den Boogaards and the Van Maneens and the Morton-Sydoraks and all of us get together for weeks in these small groups around big worn-out crockpots of soup and these bigger questions simmering:

How are you letting Christ make His Mark in your life?
How are you letting Christ make you into His mark on the world?

There isn’t once that you can open the cover of the book without seeing a reflection of your face.

It’s her face I see her face in dreams.

Three years ago — that girl that ran down the street where the drugs run. I had wore this goofy rain hat, this goofier smile. She wore unabashed light.

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For three years, that singular moment, printed on paper, has marked where I am in His Word. A bookmark.

A Life Mark.

The child marked how I kept company with Jesus — the child marked if I kept company with Jesus.

She wrote me letters about the stray cats she kept bringing home. I wrote her about our dog Boaz who kept chasing after hens and I sent her prayers for her dreams and God brought this stray wanderer closer to Home. Time can prove impotent to pry hearts apart. You can want dreams to become days. That can take years.

Three years later on a day in February, she runs.

Xiomara runs down a Guatemalan street and flings herself into arms and I lift her and spin her and the world spins right. Why do we get to hold unabashed light twice?

How can glory feel like this, like holding a child, like saying yes to a child?  How can keeping company with Jesus feel like the company of a child?

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She won’t let go of my neck. When you bend and surrender, this feels like flight.

She brings me a book; she shows me this first. It’s every letter that I’ve ever written her —- she smooths the pages out. I wrote that one out on the front porch, that one after the church picnic on a Sunday afternoon.

Scratching a pen across paper after a potluck of baked beans and cherry pies and you make marks on a child’s heart across the world. Tell me that doesn’t break all your glass ceilings and you feel the draft lifting broken things into wings.

I kneel down and show her this book; I show her this first. It’s a copy of that book: What’s Your Mark. Her smile catches, reflects off the cover. And I turn the pages.

Turn the pages past Mark chapter one, turn the pages past Katie and her holding her own glorious kids, turn the pages until I find her, and I hand her the pages marked with her megawatt smile and the kid about explodes.

She’s a splitting smile, points to her chest, eyebrows raised — me?

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And I explain through the translator, hands gesturing, flapping — that she made a mark on my heart, that this was a story of how God’s children mattered and that God’s children were masterpieces and that God’s children are marked out to make beautiful marks in the world and there are people who believe in her, in children.

She lays her finger on the page and traces the outline of the frame — she traces how her photo is framed, how together we can all be like framed like art, masterpieces.

I take her finger in mine. Our fingers do it together — we trace the frame of us both. Together, we about explode.

Jesus’ hands displayed the ultimate marks of sacrifice — how do mine?

Jesus eyes had looked into their eyes people who had run out of food. We’d read that in the Book of Mark. Xiomara’s mother tells me that they run out while the month runs on. Jesus gets it.

Time and again, Jesus looks into the eyes of people who’ve run out out of hope, run out of chances, run out of food — and He lets His hand be the bridge between God’s generosity and people’s scarcity.

Xiomara now takes my finger in her warm ones. She moves my own finger in this slow retracing of the frame.

We could let our hands be a bridge between God’s generosity and people’s scarcity. There’s no other way to the abundant life. This is how we get to live the abundant life. Dang that thing making my eyes burn. Why in this world under heaven does Xiomara have to cup my face in her hands right now?

We’d read that: how in Mark, chapter 8, that Jesus was moved to Compassion —- a Greek term meaning that His insides turned over.

God saw the needy and He was moved to compassion —- His insides turned over. And the whole cosmos turns over, and this is how the Upside Down Kingdom comes.

Compassion isn’t a vague sense but a feeling so strong it causes you to bend, your insides turned over; it shapes your body, your life, into a  response.

When we are moved to compassion, we are moved like Christ, and everything turns over and this is how the Upside Down Kingdom comes.

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The Upside Down Kingdom only comes when we are moved, when insides turn over — when ladders turn over, when agendas turn over, when plans turn over, when hands turn over.

The Upside Down Kingdom only comes when we are moved to compassion, which literally means our insides turn over. Our. lives. turn. over.

Until we are moved to Compassion, until our insides turn over— we aren’t moved to Christ, we haven’t turned ourselves over to Christ.

There’ll always be people who say like the disciples, “How can you feed these people with bread in the desert?” (Mark 8:4).” There’ll always be disciples having non-disciple moments who ask: How can you find enough in our own desert to feed one more child?

How can I help one more kid, how can I hold one more hand, how can I find one more bit to give when I don’t feel like there’s a bit more in this desert to give?

“How can I” too often translates as “I can’t” —
instead of birthing into all kinds of real possibility: How can I?

Jesus answers their scarcity question: ‘How can I?’ with the abundant question: ‘How much bread do you have?’ (Mark 8:5 MSG)   Jesus always answers our scarcity question: “How can I?” with the abundant question: “How much do you have?” Out of how much you have — God can make enough to give.

They answer: “Seven.” It’s enough. What God’s graciously given you is always enough to be abundant grace for someone else.

In the middle of the desert, Jesus picks up just seven loaves and gives thanks — He makes what He has into a Thanksgiving — and this is what makes Him the bridge from God’s generosity to people’s scarcity.

The bread remain simply what it is — but it becomes something radical: a container of the gifts of God.
The crowd remains right where they are — but they become something revived: a people strengthened by God.
The desert remains right where it is, but it becomes something resourceful: a thriving place for the reign of God.

Right where they are, right with what they have — it all becomes abundant enough to give and be abundant grace: And all ate and were full.

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Xiomara can’t stop smiling and I’m this brimming, nodding fool and all I can think is:

Seven small loaves can feed four thousand — and there still be enough left over. Gratitude without limits invites us into God’s generosity —- which exiles the lie of scarcity. God’s generosity is limitless.

Limitless gratitude ushers into a life of limitless generositywhich ushers into a life of limitless abundance.

This is our God — He doesn’t run out. He simply invites us be part of running the miracles from Him to them. 

Xiomara grasps my hand, turns my hand over in hers. Give thanks, give generously and you grasp the abundant life.

I know where she slept last night, how she’ll sleep under tin and tarp again tonight. I know how right now a starving child just gurgled their last bloated breath. And by the time I get to the end of my next sentence, another child will starve to death. One every 3.6 seconds. 16 people die every minute because they don’t have enough food. And 3472 pins are pinned every minute to Pinterest.

Xiomara presses her hand into mine, marks me with the fine lines of herself.

And everything inside of me turns right over, turns over, upside down, spills.

It’s the Pharaoh’s who harden their hearts. It’s the Pharisees who are in the scarcity business. But Jesus. Jesus is in the generosity business — and He let’s us get to be His delivery men of the gifts.

There’s this whole movement of Loaves People who are moved to compassion like Christ, who are moved to Christ, who shatter the church’s ceiling of “can’ts”, and believe in God multiplying however much you have into more than enough.

There this movement of Loaves People who believe in a God of generosity without limits so they live love without limits, who want nothing more than to be the bridge from God’s generosity to people’s scarcity. This is their mark — their beauty mark.

There’s this movement of Loaves People who get it: When your life is broken and given — you break the myth of scarcity and are given the abundant life. 

Xiomara reaches over and takes Shalom’s hand and your heart can forever frame a moment in blink.

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Your greatest contribution to the kingdom of God may not be the big things that you do — but the one little person you love. 

Xiomara and Shalom touch heads and laugh.

And all the photos of these children come right out of frames and dance like masterpieces —

the abundant mothers marking time with their generous hands. 

 

 

 

It’s the Pharisees who are in the scarcity business. But Jesus. Jesus is in the generosity business — and He let’s us get to be His delivery men of the gifts.

Compassion isn’t a vague sense but a feeling so strong it causes you to bend, for  your insides to be turned over; it shapes your body, your life,  into a response.

Your greatest contribution to the kingdom of God may not be the big things that you do — but the one little person you love. 

Just one moment — just take one moment & pray for just one child here

 

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