There are only so many full orbits around the sun, and who makes time to lie in bed and listen to rain thrumming on roofs or to take someone for strawberry ice cream sundaes and linger down at the bridge, the river running underneath like the present running through your hands?
And there are glads to be picked from the earth and there is time yet to live in the givenness of everything.
Your time is limited— so don’t limit your life by wanting someone else’s.
Sometimes I stand in the living room after they’re all in bed and listen to that clock tick slowly.
Sometimes the ticking of the clock is like Morse code, tapping it out again and again:
You have only one decision every day: how will you use your time?
Sometimes the best use of your time is to stand and listen to a clock. We’re all terminal— and we all just want a number. What size is this bucket of time? How many days do I actually get?
The hands of the clock are bound by the decisions of our hands. And He has made our hands free to be His.
I don’ t even know who has the audacious idea to go up to the dollar store and leave dollars up and down every aisle, but our kids watch unsuspecting kids wander in. Smiles break up every aisle.
This boy in a ball cap stops at the counter and picks up a lollipop we’ve taped a note to: “Here’s a dollar. Pick any color. We’re Giving It Forward Today. #betheGIFT.” His face explodes in this smile, and bits of joy lodge in the brokenness of me, and I feel a bit remade.
Smiling at anyone is to awe at the face of God.
And “the beauty of the world is Christ’s tender smile coming to us through matter” (Simone Weil). There’s a clerk grinning at the till. The guy stocking shelves is chuckling. There are people Giving It Forward Today, and don’t think that every gift of grace, every act of kindness, isn’t a quake in a heart that moves another heart to give, that moves another heart to give, that grows into an avalanche of grace.
Don’t say this isn’t what a brokenhearted world desperately needs; don’t say it isn’t how to change a broken world. What if the truth really is that every tremor of kindness here erupts in a miracle elsewhere in the world?
I can feel it like the slightest sense of a suturing along raw and ragged scar lines. Maybe our suffering and brokenness begin a kind of healing when we enter into the suffering and brokenness of the world, right through the brokenness and givenness of Christ.
And these acts of kindness, gifts of grace, they start a cascade of grace to fill a multitude of canyons in a hurting world. Maybe there’s no such thing as a small act of giving. Every small gift of grace creates a love quake that has no logical end. It will go to the ends of the earth and change the world, and then it will break through time and run on into eternity.
I would read later that those who perform five acts of giving over six weeks are happier than those who don’t, that when you give, you get reduced stress hormone levels, lowered blood pressure, and increased endorphins, and that acts of kindness reduce anxiety and strengthen the immune system.
Five random acts of kindness in a week can increase happiness for up to three months later. “He gives by cartloads to those who give by bushels,” wrote Spurgeon.
Maybe if all you have to give are handfuls, He might make a broken heart full?
The world kinda echoes with it:
Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. (John 12:24)
Die to self— and have twice as much life.
There’s a way to multiply your life. You let every kernel die.
The shape of multiplied time looks like a cross. Cruciform. Broken and given, reaching right out— reaching right out to the world.
The greatest living always happens through the givenness.
There’s enough time yet for picking glads and filling Mason jar vases of blooms for sidelined, forgotten people.
There’s time for lingering over cups of coffee and listening to the pouring out of someone’s cracked heart, time for long phone calls and shared pie and going the extra mile.
And there’s time to be broken and given — time to be the gift today — into all the world’s brokenness, because this is how to break time’s hold.
Because maybe if we give just what fills our hands — our broken hearts fill with more of Him — the gift we all want the most.
Recommended Reads Giveaway:
Today we are excited to give away five copies of Be the Gift by Ann Voskamp. To be entered for a chance to win this beautiful book, please leave a comment sharing one way you might give today (or why you’d love to read this book)! The giveaway will be closed at midnight (CST) on Wednesday, November 29. Winners will be randomly selected and must live in the U.S.
Want less stress? Abundantly more joy? Grab a copy of Be the Gift — and we will email you a FREE gift of a download of THE WHOLE 12 MONTH *Intentional* Acts of Givenness #BeTheGIFT Calendar to print from home! Easy, doable prompts for you and your people, daily intentional acts of givenness — to Give It Forward Today and #BeTheGIFT — every single day of the year — and get a heart full of joy and the abundant life you’re longing for. Just let us know that you’ve ordered Be the Gift over here and we will get the calendar to you immediately.
Ann Voskamp is the wife of one fine, down-to-earth farmer; a book-reading mama to a posse of seven; and the author of the New York Times bestsellers One Thousand Gifts, which has sold more than one million copies and has been translated into more than twenty-one languages, and The Broken Way.
Named by Christianity Today as one of fifty women most shaping culture and the church today, Ann knows unspoken brokenness and big country skies and an intimacy with God that touches wounded places. Millions do life with her at her daily photographic online journal, one of the top 10 most widely read Christian sites: www.annvoskamp.com.
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