Saturday, May 14, 2011

A Story of A Song, A Psalm and A Stockpile

"If the Lord delights in a man's way,

He makes his steps firm:

though he stumble, he will not fall,

for the Lord upholds him with His hand.

I was young and now I am old,

yet I have never seen the righteous forsaken,

or their children begging bread.

They are always generous and lend freely:

their children will be blessed.

Turn from evil and do good:

then you will dwell in the land forever.

For the Lord loves the just

and will not forsake His faithful ones.

They will be protected forever."

-Psalm 37:23-28b

I have been so busy lately. In some ways, I think it is my way of trying to avoid thinking about the future. Joel has picked up a second job, and instead of making me feel better, knowing that he was able to find work quickly, that he is desirable as an employee and all the other good things, it has made me frustrated. I have been spoiled by his hours the last couple of months, for the most part he was reporting to his unit early in the morning and then was free the rest of the day. We decided that it would be prudent for him to moonlight (of course, with permission) to have some money put away, and also so that he would have work while he looks for a more permanent job.

I won't lie. I haven't been grateful. It has only been two weeks but he is working nights and I don't like it. It makes me fearful that this will become our future. I don't want to trust. And when I am not trusting, I start closing up.

I have been couponing with some degree of success for about the last six months. I even started a "stockpile". I love looking at my little neat rows of bottles, boxes and cans. Please don't think I have been hoarding, at most I might have 3 or 4 of any one item. However, it still gave me some security. A little measure of pride, knowing that whatever the next however long holds, that at least we will have plenty of bodywash!

Silly, I know. But when faith is lacking, I start looking to tangible things to fill in the gap. My little collection was very slowly becoming a way of telling God, "It's okay, if You can't take care of my family, I will at least have toiletries and food covered.". Wow, it sounds so shallow to even write that, but it is true.

Verse 25 of the above chapter is one of my favorite verses. "I was young and now I am old, yet I have never seen the righteous forsaken." I have been quoting it to myself for a while now- probably ever since Joel decided that the Army wasn't for him. Now that getting out is becoming an unavoidable reality, I have really started saying it over and over. I know I have been made righteous by the blood of Christ, so it applies right?

Yet, I still felt like I was being given the opportunity to store all these great deals as a way to provide. Such a tiny little amount of stuff, yet I still felt like it was a good start. I looked at bottles of laundry detergent and thought, "That will see us through for a few months." And it brought me a tiny measure of satisfaction, of security.

Then I realized I had never truly read verse 26. "They are always generous and lend freely..." What? How are those two things linked together? Does that mean the Lord will provide for me-more than enough- and then I can give to others?

No. And I got a little uncomfortable thinking about it. I am pretty sure it means, "Don't wait until everything in your life is in order to start giving." Start giving, and everything will fall into order.

Our church has given us the opportunity to share with the needy. We are filling baskets for missionaries to hand out. And guess what is in them? Yeah, shampoo, soap, laundry detergent. Not so coincidentally, everything in my little stockpile-cereal included.

But, Lord, what about me? What about me? Generous, freely. I can't get away. I want my children to be blessed- and in doing so, I have to stop trying to provide myself. The Lord will not forsake His faithful ones. I want to be faithful with my "few things" (Matthew 25:23) so I can be trusted with many.

And not just my physical things. Also with my time, and my talents. If I feel like my talents are few, yet I am not freely giving them to the Lord's work, how can I ever expect them to increase? I truly have been given so much. I don't want to be greedy.

So I am going upstairs, and downstairs, and into the pantry. I have been given to, and I want to give freely. Somehow, I know if it hurts, it is the right thing. The Holy Spirit won't let me go on this one. My security HAS to be in the Lord. If I stumble, I have to believe that He will uphold me with His hand. But He can't do that if I am so set on making sure I do everything right in my own strength. I have to put myself in a position where He can surprise me, where He can provide for me, and I can't take any of the credit.

"Give Until There's Nothing Left"
Relient K

No one told me
The right way
The right way to go about this
So I'll figure it out for myself
Cause how much
Is too much
To give You
Well, I may never know
So I'll just give until there's nothing else

Yeah, I'll give give give (until there's nothing else)
Give my life (until it all runs out)
Give give (and I'll have no regrets)
I'll give until there's nothing left
I'll give

No one told me
How bad I need You (need You)
But I somehow arrived
To that conclusion all by myself (all by myself)
And I want
All you have to offer (to offer)
So I offer myself and I'll just give until there's nothing else

And I'll give give give (until there's nothing else)
Give my life (until it all runs out)

Give give (and I'll have no regrets)
I'll give until there's nothing left to
Give give give (until there's nothing else)
Give my life (until it all runs out)
Give give (and I'll have no regrets)
I'll give until there's nothing left

Sometimes I think
Like all I ever do
Is ask for things
Until I ask too much of You
But that's not the way (that's not the way)
I wanna live (I wanna live)
I need to change (I need to change)
But something's got to give
Yeah something's got to

Give give give (until there's nothing left)
Give my life (until it all runs out)
Give give (and I'll have no regrets)
I'll give until there's nothing left to give
Give give give (until there's nothing left)
Give my life (until it all runs out)
Give give
Give until there's nothing left
I'll give

I am really willing? I am certainly not able. But He is, and I know He is just waiting. Waiting for me to give up,to give away, to give out. To pour myself out as a fragrant offering...

I'm sorry that you all get drawn into my little dramas and revelations. I can't let myself get away without being accountable, though. To put this out there is to be fragile, exposed. It scares me. But to borrow lyrics from another Relient K song but "to go back where I was would just be wrong, I'm pressing on". (Sorry, I seriously love that group.)

Thanks for putting up with me. Hard to believe that this is my 200th post, huh? That is a whole lotta Clare. But my prayer is that by the time I reach my 400th post I will still be learning and growing- every little thing making me a little more like Him.


  1. “Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much." Luke 16:10

    I think your couponing and stock-piling are your way of being trusted with little. You have taken your talents and made money for your family through household goods.

    When I start to feel like you are feeling, I try to remind myself that God has NEVER forsaken me. He has always provided for me and taken care of me, beyond my wildest imagination. Don't limit His power. Continue to trust Him and you will not have any regrets.

    (You can always move in with your aunt in Washington. Her house is big enough for all of you :)

    p.s. Saw this is your 200th post? I never remember to look, so I don't pay attention to the # I'm at so I can make it monumental. I think I'm at 216. Maybe I can have a momentous 300th post :) lol

  2. Very insightful. It is difficult to give, but what I'm learning is that I want to be someone who can be counted on to "pitch in" and not be negative about sharing.

    That being said...I struggle with this too. Knowing that I make ends meet month to month, how can I be expected to give to this or that? But that is not what God wants from me, and (not) surprisingly all my fears about not paying bills etc. are all worked out. Just as HE promised, right?

    Love you & thanks for your posts. Your honesty and open-ness are remarkable. I look forward to reading posts 201-401 :0).

  3. My mom always says, "You can't outgive God!" and she has always practiced that. She has always been very giving and forgiving. God truly has blessed her in so many big and little ways. He has done the same for me. The giving of our money, ourselves, and our possessions truly is such a great expression of our faith. Our faith grows as we exercise it. Keep up the great work and do not grow weary in well doing. Love you and am so proud of who you are in Christ.



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