It’s seven-thirty p.m. I lay the baby in her crib and ease out of the dark nursery into the harsh light of pre-bedtime chaos. One child lingers in the steaming bathwater, even though said child was told to come out ten minutes ago. The other was told to clean up the blocks. Instead, this child builds a tower, deep in some imaginary game involving puppies. My husband is still on his way home from work.
My energy is at zero, my patience at negative ten. Who do I train and discipline first, and how? What mess needs my attention most–the books, the dishes, or the crayons and paper? “I can’t do this,” I think. “I want my mom. I don’t know what to do. I have nothing left to give.” So I yell, whirling from one child and room to the next, wishing all the while for my bed, my book, my phone, my chocolate, or best of all someone else to take over.
My instinct in that moment is not to give more–more energy, more encouragement, more training, and discipling in righteousness. My instinct is to give just enough to get the kids in bed and the house tidy so that I can collapse on the couch and finally give to myself. After all, the less I share with others, the more I have for myself, right?
Then one Tuesday morning I read 2 Corinthians 9:6-11, and God knocks me off my feet. “The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work. As it is written, ‘He has distributed freely, he has given to the poor; his righteousness endures forever.’ He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness. You will be enriched in every way to be generous in every way, which through us will produce thanksgiving to God.”
I’ve been operating out of a scarcity mentality. I’ve believed I do not have enough energy, I do not have enough time, to spend on myself and all the projects and hobbies vying for my attention. So I try to give everyone just enough to keep them from getting upset with me. I steal every moment I can for my own interests. After all, my moments are finite, my energy levels bounded by the limits of my humanity.
But what if by giving everyone a bare minimum, I’ve been reaping a bare minimum? Bare minimums of love, joy, peace–all the fruit of the Spirit I want to characterize my home. What if by giving everyone the bare minimum, I’ve been revealing that actually I only believe in a God of bare minimums, a God of limited abundance?
These verses show me the lie I’ve believed and teach me the truth. I am tempted to go silent, put my head down and my headphones in and plow through the work, ignoring or snapping at the human needs around me. I believe my natural ability is all I have. Instead, God is calling me to lift my head, open my ears, and attend to Him and the people who fill my life. He says that His supernatural, abundant grace is mine. The more I relinquish, the more I will reap.
He knows my humanity limits me, yes. He created me that way, and He does want me to honor that by taking regular time to rest. But He also calls me to draw from His free distribution, which in turn enables me to cheerfully distribute, even when the amount I can give varies, even if it’s from the couch with a headache.
My Father gives seed and bread through interrupted nights. He gives seed and bread through harried mornings. He gives seed and bread through tired afternoons and chaotic bedtimes. I can never outgive His sufficient grace. I can be abundant in every good work and reap an abundant harvest because He is abundant to me and in me. He enriches endlessly; I can give generously to the end.
Does operating from this abundance mentality mean that my abundant harvest will be respectful children, financial ease, an excellent reputation, a prosperous ministry? No, those things are no guarantee. But I can trust that He will work abundantly in me–me with my limitations. I can take Him at His Word and rest in His promise. The harvest will come, even if I don’t see exactly how and where it shows up until heaven. I am the channel for His working power, and it will result in bringing Him praise.
Maybe you’re a mother, maybe you’re not. Maybe you’re married, maybe you’re not. Maybe you’re sick, maybe you’re poor. Maybe you’re living your dream, maybe you’ve had endless doors shut in your face. No matter the situation, no matter the circumstance, let’s invest freely and tenderly as God directs us. Let’s find our strength and our joy in knowing His overflowing grace will bring the harvest.
Author Bio: Alyssa Yoder is wife to Ryan and mother to Luke, Caroline, and Eleanor. She enjoys reading, writing, cooking, teaching, podcasts, and deep conversations. Come sit on her couch in Delaware and she’ll serve you coffee, bite her tongue to keep from apologizing for the mess, and probably mention a book or a podcast somewhere along the way. She can be found @alyssajyoder on Instagram and at alyssayoder.home.blog.