Recently, my husband was blessed with a Sabbatical. Three months of rest, play, and reprieve. After fifteen years of ministry, he was granted some much-needed time off. As a gentle launch into this season of space, the elders gathered to pray. This is a moment that I retrace often. Sam sat encircled by men of great character. As they began to speak a blessing over him, the door edged open.
A man hobbled into the church prayer room. With a walker, he scooted in weak, slow, and short of breath. Only weeks before, he had suffered a stroke that left him with a limp. The left side of his body lost so much strength. This man was Vince, the chairman of the elder board. This not-so-old man originally from Panama dragged half of his body behind him into the room just to pray for Sam. Vince’s voice is strong, vibrant, and has the accent of Morgan Freeman. Through the tremble of his spirit-filled words, he prayed. That night Sam came home and shared this story. He wept recalling the overwhelming love he felt when Vince showed up to pray. The prayer itself wasn’t what was so powerful, it was the person and how he showed up.
I think about this story a lot. It profoundly impacted me.
The needs and speed of everyday life can be so challenging. Caring for my family, church, and community can leave me drained. Often by lunchtime, I crave crawling into bed. I want sleep and silence and to simply be left alone. The demands of life are constant. My soul feels crowded and cramped. Most of the commitments in my life are non-negotiable. It is just the way life is for now. But I keep waiting for a break. I keep waiting for the moment when, after all this effort, my life will flourish. I want that. I want a rich and flavorful life. But, instead, I am depleted, irritable, and grabbing fistfuls of goldfish for lunch.
Most nights, I lay awake reliving my day, play-by-play. I recall all the moments when I showed up half-hearted. How I gave from an empty place. I’ve always thought pouring out from my nothingness was not worthy love. I’ve always thought “good” love came from a place of strength and overflow and more than enough. Good love comes from abundance. But, maybe like Vince, the greatest kind of love comes from a weak place. Great love comes with a limp. It comes with shuffled feet and a faint heart.
The love I give my kids, community, and Sam doesn’t have to be fancy. In fact, that’s not the love that leaves the most lasting heart impression. The love that comes from a hidden and quiet place, from consistently showing up is the love that leaves the most impact. Love that comes from weakness and emptiness might be the purest kind of love I can offer. I don’t look at my limits as lesser. I look at my limits as my offering.
When I think about love this way, it makes the cross mean so much more. Christ didn’t die from a place of strength but from a place of humility. He didn’t die going out swinging. He died spread out and surrendered. He didn’t die from a place of fullness. He died empty and poured out. God emptied Himself to be with us. We empty ourselves to be with others. Empty is enough.
Perhaps this kind of love is where flourishing really comes from. It doesn’t come from something outside of us, but a deepening dependence on Christ within us. Flourishing isn’t a place to arrive at, but being found by the person of Jesus relating to us. Flourishing is a relationship and it comes by way of weakness, not strength.
When I offer love, even when I’m tired, it is received as love. When I give my leftovers, it is still a gift. So I offer my crumbs and Christ receives them the way He did the widow’s mite. The widow had nothing but gave everything. I offer my stress and Christ receives me with rest. I offer my weakness and Christ receives me with grace. I keep showing up. I can show up and pray for a friend. I can show up and read a book to my son. I can show up and wrap my arms around someone who is weeping. I don’t have to wait to be full and flourishing before I can love another. I don’t have to wait until I am better, well-rested, or enough. I don’t have to give more than I have. I just give what I have.
Actually, love offered with a limp is the greatest love I can give.
Today we’re thrilled to welcome new voices to the (in)courage podcast! We thank Grace P. Cho for sharing her gifts with us this past year, and we welcome Rachel Marie Kang as the new narrator. Take a listen at the player below, or wherever you stream pods.Leave a Comment