What do we have to give?
That question could be interpreted in different ways.
I could be asking, “What am I required to give?”
I could be asking, “What things do I possess to present to another?”
During Bible Study one Sunday, we were asked what things we are good at. The leader wanted us to think about our place in the world and what unique things we offer to the world around us. I declared, without thinking, “I’m really good at drinking coffee.” Which I am. My coffee habit began at great-grandma Leona’s Formica kitchen table. My mom, grandma, dad, cousins, aunts, and uncles, and even grandpa, if he was not too busy milking, splitting wood, or cutting hay, would gather around that table as often as they could. These “coffee gatherings” were never often enough for me, nor did they ever last long enough.
At that table, I would sit in my beloved “princess chair” and listen to the family chatter as sugar cube after sugar cube dissolved into my coffee before someone spotted how empty the box had become. Coffee and chatting, sweet goodies, and advice-giving go hand in hand in my world.
Gathering around a table, in someone’s living room, in a coffee shop, or in a church basement with the smell of coffee in the air is still one of my favorite things to do even if I don’t get to do it often enough, especially in the age of COVID.
The difference between the days at Grandma’s Formica table and now is when I gather, I ask myself a question or two:
What am I required to give?
What do I possess to give to these people?
When I sit around in my church basement, for the most part, I am the least experienced woman in the group. Many of the women who surround me have been married five times longer than I have and spent seven times the hours I have spent employed or seeking employment. They have raised children, chickens, hogs, and nurtured many more than I have in my mere 35 years. (Can you tell I live in a farming community?) They have pictures to show me of the great-grandchildren their grandkids are raising. What do I have that I can give these women who have lived, worked, and nurtured much longer than I’ve been alive?
When I sit in my friend’s living room, I see the toys scattered and our kids laughing together. I look at this woman and listen to how she fosters kids. She drops all she is doing and invites someone she does not know into her home. She invites kids into her home with a smile, good food, toys that go on for miles, and her own children as playmates and friends. She gives of herself, her home, and her family. What do I have to give this friend who gives of herself so often?
When I turn my computer on and see my friend’s bright face come on the computer, I thank God for her encouragement, support, and expertise. What do I have to give this woman who has successfully written, spoken, encouraged, mothered, and counseled for a decade longer than I?
So often, I lack the words to say.
So, what does this champion coffee drinker have to give?
When they tell me of regrets in how they raised their children, I can say, “on account of Christ, you are forgiven.”
When they are losing hope because of how dark the world looks for the foster child who is leaving, I can reassure them of Christ’s love for them and this child.
When they have an upcoming project that I know is causing frustration, I can pray for them and know the Holy Spirit is praying in groans too deep for words with us and for us.
I am what I am, a coffee-drinking sinner who has been freely given the gifts of Christ.
Regardless of my experience, my talents, or even my mood, it’s these gifts of Christ that I have to give away. They are all I have, and they are everything.