What makes us feel alive, and how can we feel alive more often?
We first shared about coming alive with others, and last week we opened up the idea of coming alive through God’s creation! This week, we are going to focus on the idea of giving to others in order to feel alive more often. I’ve seen the most joyful, alive people find a way to consistently give for the benefit of other people!
Giving helps me feel alive because it reminds me life is not all about me. Isn’t it so humbling to think about God, and how he created you and me with the ability to meet people’s specific needs on earth? He gifts us so we can gift each other. People need us! We are valuable, unique and dynamic on our own, but we come alive more often when we give more often.
One chilly evening last December, I was driving home from work and I was grumpy, low on joy and tired. Like, I needed a nap 10 minutes ago tired. I was running on fumes and wanted to get home so I could cook dinner and relax. Hell hath no fury like a tired, hungry woman.
As I slowly approached an intersection, I noticed a woman standing on the corner with a sign that read, “Homeless. Anything helps.” I don’t always have the best attitude when I’m tired, and I certainly don’t feel like helping people! However, this time felt different.
As I slowly pressed the brakes to stop, I felt convicted to roll down my window. I had granola bars in my passenger seat, and felt the Lord nudge me to give them to her. I remember thinking, Ugh I don’t want to stop. Why now God? I want to go home.
I came face to face with a woman who was missing most of her teeth. I think she had three left, yet she smiled with joy. I don’t know her story, or how she ended up at that intersection. I don’t know if she got there by making poor choices or if she fell on hard times innocently. It’s not my place to judge or know. What I do know is God wanted me to help her, and I needed to respond.
I handed her the granola bars, and as she took them she smiled, thanked me and said, “God bless you. He loves you and there ain’t nothing you can do about it.”
To this day, her words still melt my heart. How many times do we let our own agendas direct us, instead of pausing to roll down our window for God to work? Giving is about having an open heart to what Jesus wants to do through us, regardless of our agendas or comfort.
I felt undeserving of her joyful smile and encouraging, loving words because I was tempted to drive right by her! Even through my negative attitude, God reminded me I can’t do anything to make him stop loving me. I can “drive by” and ignore him again and again, but he’s still waiting for me with a joyful smile. A woman with what appeared to be next to nothing, knew the truth of God’s love for us. I needed her sweet words in that moment and I didn’t even know it, but God, in his sovereignty, did.
In the most unassuming way, God reminded me of his unlimited love for us. The woman on the corner didn’t have to be kind or joyful toward me, but she was because that’s what she could give. God gifted me with her kind words, and I hope I gifted her with a simple snack she liked. The point of giving isn’t the size of the gift, it’s the heart behind the giver of the gift. Joyful, alive people find a way to give!
I learned that day that sometimes the hardest part about giving is responding. I didn’t feel like rolling down my window, but I needed to. I couldn’t ignore God in that moment. Freely giving can be inconvenient and uncomfortable, but our reward is feeling one with Christ; it’s feeling alive!
God also reminded me through this woman that our significance isn’t found in our job titles, our relationship status or in our physical appearance. It isn’t found from our salary, children, or what kind of car we drive. Our significance is found in Christ and what we give away with our lives; it’s found in how much we love.
Giving of ourselves can be as simple as giving someone a granola bar, a smile, kind words or a hug. I encourage you to open your heart and mind to using your gifts to serve other people. I think giving of ourselves in the simplest ways can lead to love spreading like wild fire.
Our hearts have the capacity to fill with joy when we freely give. That, to me, feels so much more alive than keeping our gifts for ourselves!
One of my favorite verses about serving is 1 Peter 4:10:
Each of you has received a gift to use to serve others. Be good servants of God’s various gifts of grace.
What I love so much about God is because of his love, we ALL matter. We ALL have gifts to use to serve. We ALL have significance and purpose. Isn’t that awesome?
As we continue to seek feeling alive more often, I encourage you to think about what being a good servant looks like in your life. God can use our generosity to spread his love and grow our hearts in powerful, unexpected ways.
And, always remember, God loves you and there ain’t nothing you can do about it.
Have a great week!
What are ways you can serve others this week?
What are your gifts, and how can use them to benefit other people?
How do you define your own significance?