Life – You Have to Give it Away!

Andrew at Tampa International this week

Well, Andrew should be back in his little Tuscan village by now. We dropped him off at the airport for his Tampa – Philadelphia – Frankfurt – Florence trek Saturday afternoon. It really was great to have him home for a few days.

I’ve been thinking about why it is that children add such an undeniable charge to life. And not just young children – like the crowd of animated small-fry who bring such joy to our church community – but our own personal children, even when they’re 26 and 28 years old.

I believe it has a lot to do with what we have invested in them; especially the love. We love our children so fiercely and with such abandon and for so many years, and that principal not only remains, it compounds over time.

That’s why it is just about impossible to let them go. Even parents who have experienced nothing but heartbreak draw life and strength from their offspring. I mean, it’s all right there, poured into them, the residue of our best hopes and our brightest dreams.

Andrew and Naomi carry around a portion of my life in them, and Rebekah’s.

There was a time, when Naomi was barely three years old, that she spent five days in the hospital for serious abdominal surgery. I remember watching her in the children’s wing at Sacred Heart, various tubes and monitors sticking out of her tiny body, and wanting to trade places with her if it would only take her pain away. If we could have taken the life force from our own bodies and shoveled it into hers we would have…

… But we did in a way. And what I’m talking about – life/love/light – is not the least bit finite at all. The more of it we shared with Naomi, and Andrew, the more we had for ourselves and consequently the more to give them in the future.

That’s what I could see in Andrew this week; it was life personified, the sense of purpose and total engagement in living that characterizes the redeemed soul. Andrew has it in spades.

THE KEY: I think the key element in this charged-life equation is the giving away part. Jesus talked all the time about concepts such as finding our life by losing it, being a leader by serving, going to the back of the line if we want to be first, adding value by giving ourselves away. The more we pour ourselves into other people, then the more we seem to have to pour into other people.

It’s kind of a reverse pyramid scheme. In the classic con, the people at the top – typically only a very few – make a pile of money from new “investments” coming from those further down the line. Advancement is always grabbed at the expense of others. It’s a system predicated on the tenacity and replicability of greed.

The life-charged life is entirely opposite. We give ourselves away, with no expectation of anything in return, yet we become immeasurably rich.  Jesus put it this way in John’s account of his ministry: “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life” (John 4:13-14).

I am so thankful my children understand what life really is, and that they have also learned to give it away. So long as they do, they’re never going to be thirsty.


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