I was making a pot of stew. In the pot was just the right amount to sufficiently fill my family of six. I was cooking on a stove that was unfamiliar to me, and for some reason, I couldn’t get it hot enough so it was taking forever to get the vegetables tender.
In the meantime, extra people showed up unexpectedly. No problem, I thought. I’ll just get out a few more bowls and make the stew stretch. My family can handle eating a little less.
But then more people showed up. And then more. I decided that Matt and I would forgo eating this meal so there would be more stew to go around.
Some of the guests began complaining that the stew wasn’t ready and that they were hungry. They asked me to hurry, and I tried, even though there was nothing I could do with that silly stove to get it hot enough to cook my vegetables.
And then there was the growing problem of the amount of stew in the pot. More and more people kept filing into the living room. Where were they all coming from?! At this point, there was no way that little amount of stew was going to feed this many people. As I frantically scrounged for more bowls and spoons, in my head I was also calculating how I could make the stew stretch. Pretending that all was well, I smiled at everyone and begged their forgiveness that the meal was not ready yet. Inside I panicked and tried frantically to plan how I could make this work.
I decided that my entire family would have to go without. I certainly couldn’t let my guests go hungry, but my family – well the six of us would just have to tough it out. This would be a lesson in giving to others and this would be good for us. After all, we wouldn’t starve. I could figure out something else to throw together for us later, and we could discuss how good it was of us to give selflessly in a time of need.
I stirred the pot of stew. Finally – almost ready. But it looked watery and unappetizing. After all this waiting, now the people would surely be disappointed with the quality of this meal. It didn’t look good at all. As the people began to overflow the living room and crowd into the kitchen, looking over my shoulder at the pitiful pot of stew, I was at the point of tears.
And then I woke up.
It was all a dream. It wasn’t real.
Or was it?
Much of the insecurity and fear – my unspoken worries during the daytime – manifest themselves while I am most vulnerable. When I let my guard down. When I am quiet. This dream was a love lesson from God, no doubt.
There are so many needs to be met! People, people, people – all needing something from me! But no matter how hard I try, I just can’t do it all. My stew won’t stretch far enough and it’s watery and unappetizing. My family suffers, gets pushed aside – again.
And Jesus says, “No. It is not your job to meet the needs of every person around you. That job is mine. I’m already doing it. Don’t rescue them. If you do, they will not recognize their need for Me. Let them come to me. I am to be everything for them – not you.”
I’m learning to let go of my self-inspired ideas and to be Spirit led in the way I serve others. Grasping that it is God who saves, not me – well that’s just downright wonderful. I’m free! We’re all free! Free to be exactly what God calls us each to be. Humility begets power. Only when we admit our imperfections and surrender our selves in humility can God’s power truly work through us. Only when we stop and allow the Spirit to lead our hearts will we find ourselves serving to our full potential.
When we try to serve outside of God’s purposes for us, we will always fall short. There is never enough of us to go around. We will constantly feel as though we are failing. We will be exhausted, frustrated, and discouraged. This is not the abundant life God promises.
The truth is this: God gives us everything we need, puts just the right people in our path, and tells us exactly what we need to do to further His kingdom. Our job is to stop, get on our knees, listen, and obey.
Then, and only then, will there be just the right amount of stew to go around.
Do you find yourself being stretched too thin? Are you trying to rescue people instead of pointing them to the Savior? Are you putting your family first, or are you shoving them aside so that you can serve others? Are you taking care of yourself spiritually and physically so that you can serve God? Are you listening to the one who tells lies, or the One who speaks and breathes Truth?
If you’d like to read more about what God has been teaching me about laying my life down for him, read through my Raw series, which begins here.