I see a little girl, dwarfed by the gift box which she is carrying. Barely able to get her arms around enough of it that she will not drop it. Unable to see round the corners of this trust which she is holding so tightly, and staggering slightly as she embraces its enormity.
That little girl is me. And the gift? Well, I can’t tell you what that is right now because it is not yet given that I might share it. But the gift is beyond my ability to handle it. Those around me would be surprised by that sentiment, I know. They often think more highly of my abilities than I. But I know me and I know what happens when I take hold of what is too great for me.
I will grow into this carrying, for sure. Little girls grow into bigger girls and then the box which was so large seems smaller, more manageable. Maybe one distant day it could even be tucked under one arm. So I do not fear its size as such. I do not mind that others assume that I am already capable of it when, in fact, I move into this trust only with great trepidation. I know that I will grow and I know that it is a gift which Jesus has been speaking about giving me for several years now. So it is well. Or, at least, it will be well.
Yet, for now, it nearly eclipses me. And, as I have sat with the reality of this gift, I’ve been led to recognise how I normally deal with what is too great for me. I’ve seen how I respond when others treat me as highly-competent and experienced in things of which I am only an apprentice. That thing I do, I call it the ‘City girl thing’. That Pavlovian response which is to work longer and harder and faster in order to master whatever it is that is too big for me. Because I do not want to be found wanting.
Jesus has been talking to me about that. It’s time to stop this behaviour now. Longer and harder and faster works. No one can say it doesn’t. It’s got me to where I am today. Ironically, in a kind of vicious circle, it’s exactly because of this thing I do that others think more highly of my abilities and capacity than I think they ought. It definitely works.
But when I do this thing, I stop being present to him. I allow the expectations of others to encroach upon the boundaries of my soul and shape my living. I become present to others in a way which does not flow out of being first present to him.
So, as I wrestle to understand how I will hold this gift, the one which is beyond my current capacity, I am seeing that I have a choice. When it is placed in my ready arms, I can respond by working longer and harder and faster. And, in doing this, I can master this responsibility and I expect that I will.
Or I can risk wild grace. I can work from faith. Not any kind of faith but the Jesus kind. The abiding in the vine kind of faith, where I rest in him and in his love and he does all the fruit-producing. And, if I make this choice, the responsibility can be mastered and I expect that it will be. Yet the difference will be that it flows from the place of being present to Jesus, the place from which – as I am discovering – all the best of me always comes.
I have two choices. And the thing is, no one will likely know which road I take. Either way I will probably grow big enough that the gift seems smaller, more manageable. But Jesus is inviting me to choose not to have to control. Not to work longer and harder and faster in order not to be found wanting. Instead he beckons me towards him. Towards the Mary-place, sitting at his feet.
You see, when I am present first to him, fruitfulness is sheer overflow. And it will be a grace wilder and more powerful than I can dream.
You know which choice I want to make. It’s embedded in every blog post I write at the moment. And though I can’t yet share the context which is to be this gift, please pray for me. Pray that, in it, I might risk wild grace. Pray that I would run straight for the Mary-place, choosing not control over my own outputs but prioritising being present to Jesus, trusting that he will undertake for the fruitfulness which is going to be expected of me.
Because, these days, all I want is to risk wild grace.