Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.
DEUTERONOMY 6:4-9 (ESV)
When a baby’s born, it can’t see beyond a very close distance. Even the most important people in her life, her very exhausted parents, will often exist as nurturing blurs, but as her eyesight develops, the world begins to open up. She will begin to reach out for it, grasping at what it holds before her. Soon she will crawl to it. One day she will stand up to chase it. Each of these incredible milestones comes with cognitive development. The baby that can look and walk and grab can now think about what she sees and follows and holds, too. She’s growing and learning and ready to be taught.
In the five years since we welcomed our daughter into the world we have tried to teach her many things. Riding a bike (almost), kicking a soccer ball (kind of), swinging at a piñata (nailed it) – most of the skills of a child at play have been covered. Basic requirements of a functional human being have been practiced too. Using the bathroom on her own, brushing her teeth, getting dressed, sleeping through the night. Class is in session with an eye toward a successful future.
To get her to that horizon, we know the lessons will have to go a step further. We have to focus on the more difficult things, the things that need time to take root in the person our daughter is becoming. We have in mind here the inner life being cultivated, the life that can only grow as it learns things like patience and sacrifice and love. This requires discipline and consistency. From her parents, it requires trust.
One of the most difficult lessons has been stewardship. My daughter was not born with a concept of scarcity or fragility. Sharing has been a struggle, even with toys she no longer plays with. We sometimes have to remind her that protecting a toy from her cousin is not actually playing with it. And some of these toys get broken in our house, usually when they aren’t being shared. Often she will plead with us, through tear-filled eyes, to replace what has been lost. We have found in these moments an opportunity to teach her to value good things in the right way, to use them well and share them freely.
This is very near to what God had in mind for the final arena of a life of holy worship. The Hebrew word we translate as “might,” was given in relation to the resources and property and relationships with which God had blessed each person. The things outside of our listening bodies, things we hold and cherish, are His too. Lest there be any question as to the kind of commitment this glorious God deserves and commands, He makes clear that there are no areas of our lives He hasn’t come to redeem and order.
So we have given God our hearts. We have given Him our bodies. What is left to give? What does it mean to love Him with the rest?
Our Father delights in seeing us grow, in bringing us to life and watching as our eyes adjust to see His light and our legs stretch forward to chase after it. He smiles as He freely provides what we couldn’t deserve, spiritually and materially, and trusts that we will steward His gifts to serve a broken world. Our hearts have received. Our bodies have responded. We are ready for the more difficult lessons of Kingdom life. What we have in our families and our jobs and our homes and our wallets is not ours to hide but ours to use well and share freely, an unmistakable testimony to a sovereign, loving God.
Lord, how great your provision! You have loved and cared for me in so many ways that I confess it’s easy to take You for granted. Give me eyes today that see your gifts but see you greater still. Remind me that every blessing is just a taste of your goodness. Loosen my grip on the things I cherish and give me a passion to steward all I have for your glory. AMEN.
Before you leave, take stock of the blessings in your life. How has God provided for you? How do you steward these gifts? As you ask these questions, consider also what needs around you might be met by sharing the abundance of your heavenly Father.