Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Royal Bounty and how much I owe

"And King Solomon gave unto the queen of Sheba all her desire, whatsoever she asked beside that which Solomon gave her of his royal bounty."  1Kings 10:13

I am a gift giver.  Dare I say I am perhaps one of the best giver of gifts I know.  I do not share this in pride but humbly in gratefulness to a Father who bestows on each one of us certain ways we can best serve Him in the Kingdom.  It is a love language God granted to me.  I can honestly say there is nothing in this world that brings me greater pleasure than seeking out a treasure for someone dear to me and sometimes even more so for a stranger.  I am always looking and always thinking of who might need an encouragement in word on beautiful paper or in gift tied with ribbon and love.  When my husband first met me he would marvel at the "gift closet" I kept full of specific baubles chosen for birthdays or events maybe even months away and many "just because" I had already found exactly the right thing for someone who had no occassion at all except to be surprised and loved.  He scratched his head as I would often spend my "disposable" income and free time buying gifts for people he did not consider important in our lives and certainly not someone who would ever reciprocate.  As years wore on he began to see the heart I was given to share and bless had little or no expectation for gratitude from the recipient.  My joy really has always come from the giving.  We still joke that if I had $100 left to my name I would spend $75 of it on someone else and the rest on a book of poetry and a Starbucks.  I see life through these eyes. 

People talk a lot about "karma" and what goes around comes around and other pithy sayings communicating how the universe will even itself out in the end.  You get what you give, right?  Never could I have imagined how the seeds of love I planted year after year in people and places no longer a part of my life in any way could have drifted on the winds across the landscape of dry and barren soil and taken root here in rich black need to grow the most beautiful gifts of sacrifice and service I have ever been part of.  This garden planted by many of YOU has literally fed and clothed my family and I for years now.  It has given us hope when one more day seemed impossible.  It has been fertilized by the compost of pain and loss and promises to yield a harvest still immeasureable by those of us who watch and wait. 

Only a few times in my life has the giving of a gift proved hard (and by "hard" I don't mean other gifts were not a sacrifice, but these were things I clutched as personal lifelines.)   Once was a necklace I've written about before that was a very special gift from my husband to me.  I gave it to someone experiencing the greatest loss I could imagine.  It was truly the ONLY way I could think of to tell her I cared that much.  The second was a book.  It was a beautiful blue bound volume of Frances Ridley Havergal poems I found as a young teenager in a precious used bookstore in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.  The lettering was in gold and a stunning gold harp was on the cover.  No matter how far I strayed from God in my prodigal years or what back alley or crack whore basement I woke up in during that wandering time this book stayed with me. 

The week before my surgery I received a package from a young woman who is knit to my heart as surely as my own daughters are.  This friendship and love born in cyberspace is one of God's greatest mysteries to me in a plan I can only see in very small part even now.  She gifted me a perfect little red volume written by Frances Ridley Havergal titled "Royal Bounty."  She had tied it with a beautiful white ribbon and her note to me was written on stationary with a simple Golden Wattle on it, Australia's national flower.  The book is divided up into a month of readings.  The first evening's selection reads this:

"ALL God's goodness to US is humbling.
The more He does for us, the more
ready we are to say, ' I am not worthy of
the least of all the mercies, and of all the
truth, which Thou hast shewed unto Thy
servant/* The weight of a great answer
to prayer seems almost too much for us.'
The grace of it is * too wonderful *" for
us. It throws up in such startling relief
the disproportion between our little, poor,
feeble cry, and the great shining response
of God's heart and hand, that we can only
say : * Who am I, O Lord God, that
Thou hast brought me hitherto ? Is this
the manner of man, O Lord God ? '*
But it is more humbling still, when we
stand face to face with great things which
the Lord hath done for us and given us/
which we never asked at all,'' never even
thought of asking — royal bounty, with
which not even a prayer had to do. It is
so humbling to get a view of these, that
Satan tries to set up a false humility
to hinder us from standing still and con-
sidering how great things the Lord hath
done for us ;* thus he also contrives to de-
fraud our generous God of the glory due
unto His name.*

For, of course, we do not praise for what
we will not recognize.

Let us try to baffle this device to-day,
and give thanks for the overwhelming
mercies* for which we never asked.

* Blessed be the Lord, who daily loadeth
us with benefits." Just think of them
deliberately (they are far too many to
think of all in a flash) ; and how many did
we actually ask for? Even that poor
little claim was never brought to bear on
thousands of them.

To begin at the beginning, we certainly
did not ask Him to choose us in Christ
Jesus before the world began,* and to pre-
destinate us to be conformed to the image
of His Son.* Was not that * royal boun-
ty ' indeed ?

Then, we certainly did not ask Him to
call us by His grace ;'* for before that call,
we could not have wished, much less
asked, for it.' Then, who taught us to
pray,* and put into our entirely corrupt
and sinful hearts* any thought of asking
Him for anything at all?* Was not all
this ' royal bounty ' ?

Look back at our early prayers. Has
He not more than granted them ? did we
even know how much He could do for us ?
did He not answer prayer by opening out
new vistas of prayer before us, giving us
grace to ask for more grace, faith to plead
for more faith ? Why, it is all ' royal
bounty ' from beginning to end ! And
this is going on now, and will go on for
ever, when He has brought us with glad-
ness and rejoicing into His own palace.'
Not till then shall we understand about
those riches of glory in Christ Jesus," out
of which He is even now pouring out the
supply of all our need.

The marginal reading is very beautiful ;
it is, * that which he gave her, according to
the hand of King Solomon.* We may
link this with David's grateful words :
* According to Thine own heart hast Thou
done all these great things ;'* and again :
** Thou hast dealt well with Thy servant,

Lord, according to Thy word.'* His
hand, His heart, His word — what an im-
measurable measure of His bounty ! The
great hand that holds the ocean in its hol-
low* is opened to satisfy our desire,* and
to go beyond that exceeding abundantly,*
giving us according to the heart that * so
loved the world,*' and according to the
word'' which is so deep and full that all the
saints that ever drew their hope and joy
from it cannot fathom its ever upspringing

Perhaps nobody knows the Bible well
enough to know the full significance of
saying, ' Be it unto me according to Thy
word ;' * how much less can we imagine
what shall be the yet unrevealed royal
bounty according to His heart of infinite
love and hand of infinite power ! * What I
do thou knowest not now, but thou shalt
know hereafter. ** * And ye shall . . .
be satisfied, and praise the name of the
Lord your God, that hath dealt wondrous-
ly with you.*"

Today, my infection is much better.  As the day wears on and my pain increases I remember where I have been and how far He has brought me.  I have a pile of folders here full of medical bills that I may in this lifetime never really pay, but I have every single thing I need today and oh so much more.  My real debt is paid in full, my friends.  My heart is full as I stand in the cold spring wind on the side of a field plowed deep and planted early with seeds pregnant with royal bounty He gave from YOUR hands to ours.  Won't you watch with me?  Won't you pray with me?  Won't you praise with me?  He has dealt wondrously. 

When this passing world is done.
When has sunk yon glaring sun,
When we stand with Christ in glory.
Looking o'er life's finished story,
Then, Lord, shall I fully know —
Not till then — how much I owe !

R. M'Cheyne.

1 comment:

  1. I have been thinking so much of you, even though I don't know you, and will continue to do so. Praying...