enjoy blessing others
Driving home at night in the sluicing rain, I can barely make out the thick white lines that mark our lane. Water arcs, pounding dull against the wheel wells, and Zoe says, “Go slow, Mom. We’re almost home.”
Go slow. She’s right. It really is the only safe way through.
Tonight, it seems easier to count the thick-plopping drops disturbing pools on the road in front of us than it is to see our way ahead. Intermittently, lightening cracks open the black sky, casting a dull glow across pavement and smoky clouds and sheets of rain suddenly visible and then just as quickly swallowed up by the darkness. Almost, but not nearly, I’m thinking, but I say nothing, leaning forward, trying to focus past the blur of the storm.
A truck races in from an on-ramp, nearly swerving into us, careening across our lane and into another, slipping over the slick road.
Oh Lord, keep us safe.
Right now, I offer just that whisper from blackest night, driving on an obscured and flooding roadway.
This storm has been my week. I woke up Monday morning without a clear view of the path and nothing but pitch dark have to and thick-gathering weariness as far as the eye can see. It’s been easier to count the wrecking of things, the smacking sky-cracking startle of unexpected heaviness, than it has been to see how to move along. And some weeks are just that way, suddenly obliterated, blurred over by storms. I think Kevin could see it on my face, the almost, but not nearly longing for home, because he cupped my face in his hands on the way out the door to work and said, “Enjoy blessing others.”
He shifted clouds.
That word, enjoy, it comes from a word that means, “to give joy to others.” Enjoying was originally about pouring joy in; about giving it away; about letting joy flood into healing pools. Funny that I always think it’s about me. And then the word blessing comes from an old word for blood and another word for worship. Indeed, to bless was–and is–to offer a sacrifice of praise. So Love cups my face at the start of a thick-dark day and says, “Give joy to others as a sacrifice of praise,” and his words split the sky.
That day some friends and I had planned in advance to offer up presence, a humble re-gifting of the grandest grace-gift. I’d written just the one word–with-ness, scrolling across the afternoon in my planner, and together we had plotted out blessing–whom we might go see, how we might embrace them. What Kevin said on his way out the door is exactly what we intended: to give joy to others as an act of worship. But any journey pointed toward the cross always carries the promise of storms, and I wasn’t all that surprised to wake up to a sluicing, emotional battle. When we set our hearts on making Jesus visible, some ominous distraction always erupts to obscure the road. The thing is to go slow but to press on, to give anyway.
And now, tapping my foot on the brake to let that truck fly on by, I think maybe what Kevin and Zoe have said to me belong together:
Go slow, Mom.
Enjoy blessing others.
Because how is it that we move safely through our storm-soaked days without slowing down, or how is that we pour joy into anything in a thunderous hurry? On Monday, those words, spoken right into a deliberate pause–Enjoy blessing others.—changed my day. They made me slow down and look close; they helped me remember to give thanks; they broke into time for me to listen, and I came home from the ministry of presence feeling full instead of emptied out. This is the STUFF, I typed to a friend, and in the afternoon, she sent back something powerful and sweet: I know this is what God wants us to do…His pure and undefiled religion in action. Her words made me smile. Some translations render that word religion as “the worship God wants.” Yes, give joy as a sacrifice of praise.
But right now, driving through the rain, I feel about empty. Beside me, Zoe leans forward too, peering through the downpour. “Oh,” she gasps, but then relents, relaxing against the seat. “It’s okay. We’re almost home.”
And then I realize that while I’m gripping the steering wheel hard, munching on that distasteful word almost, Zoe has taken the longer view: she’s filling up on home. What’s more, she trusts me to get her there. This verse washes over my thoughts: Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross...(Hebrews 12: 2). With-ness has always been a get to kind of gift, a love-offering focused on joy, even when everything inevitably goes all blurry. The storm is to be expected; it’s what we do in it that matters.
Slowing down yet again, I relax my grip on the wheel and allow myself to smile. If driving through the storm slows me enough to fix my eyes; maybe even the thriving downpour can be counted a gift.