Ethel's Umbrella

Over the past month, we have been out one car. Our Prius' fancy feet tripped over themselves. So like many car sagas past, it sits in our garage waiting for it's kinsmen redeemer.

That redeemer would be Tim Vincent. Tim is the handiest of guys, and he's just been a little busy finishing his thesis, or else it would've been fixed ages ago. So for the past month or so, we've been dependent on the kindness of the body of Christ. 

The first week we borrowed Becky and Aaron's vehicle, "Ethel." Becky reached out to me after hearing about our unique situation and asked if we would like to use it, no charge, no time limit. Her only request was that if it rained, we were to take the umbrella purposefully placed in Ethel's front seat and give it to someone who needs it. 

You know I can't for the life of me remember the car's make or model or even what color it is, but I will always remember that umbrella.

Not only were they providing for us when we were in need, they were providing something for us to provide for someone else in need. They were giving us two gifts in one, a gift for us and a gift to give away. So in this way, they had premeditated two gifts to give, without knowing the details of who or when or why. They told us they've been blessed in this way before, with God always providing for them from the body.

They had been given some umbrellas in their lifetime. Now they were our umbrella. And now they were giving us the ability to be the umbrella for someone else. 

Becky and Aaron's family has grown to a family of six as they've adopted twice in the past few years, and recently they've been waiting for God to provide a buyer for their home. In them, I see the trust that God will provide just the resources they need when they need it from whom they need it. And they display the trust to be able to give to others while they are still waiting on God to provide for them. They've seen him do it time and time again, so it there really wasn't a second thought. 

They've been so well loved, they can love others well. And teach those they love to love others well too. Their love reaches beyond themselves, and even beyond the first ripple of those they choose to love. 

God's love is far reaching through Becky and Aaron. 

And what gets me about these two is how joyfully expectant they are that God would show His love through them. 

God's love is not a one and done deal. It is so abundant we could never keep it to ourselves.

It is all too much.

Becky and Aaron are too much. Their kids are too much. Their hearts are too much. The car and the umbrella, it is too much. 

When God has given you "too much," you can't really help it. You've got to be too much and show others how to be too much. 

This is what it means when God said He came to give us life and life to the full

To my great disappointment, I never did get to give Ethel's umbrella away. It was a very dry September week. But since that week, I've been looking for ways that people purposefully set aside what they've been given to be generous to others. The lady with an extra quarter at Aldi. The person who writes in their schedule "time to serve" every Friday afternoon, not knowing how God will have them serve during those hours, but joyfully expectant He would fill the time every week. The sister who makes an extra freezer meal for the person who will need it. The church that sets aside funds because they know well this fallen world will catch someone by surprise this year. The person who buys an extra pack of diapers for the Women's Center. 

But still, I've never seen quite the gift of giving twice that Becky and Aaron have so nonchalantly exemplified. They are truly gifted in giving.

We don't have to know the details of when or who or why, but in joyful expectancy, we can set aside the too much of God's love for us to give away to someone else who can then, in turn, give it away too. 

Like pay it forward? But Jesus already paid it all, and then gave us a cup that overfloweth. He gave us some Ethels and Ethel umbrellas and sweet people like Becky and Aaron to show you the simple no nonsense, no strings attached fact of Christ's love for us.

Since that week, we've been using our best friends and neighbors Nick and Natalie's car. They are the usual suspects of this lesson in my life. And I'm still a little embarrassed to be on the receiving end even though they would roll their eyes to hear it.

But I don't have to wait to be the giver. This kind of giving? It's quite contagious. 

So I am asking God, what can I set aside? What can I decide ahead of time? How can I give your love away, and then some? I want to be a Becky, Aaron, Nick, and Natalie. I want an Ethel and an Ethel's umbrella of my own.

God's love made manifest in us, through us, beyond us. Let us love not just with words, but with actions and in truth, joyfully expectant that your love will show up and reach beyond our wildest dreams.