My little brother thought I was a demigod. Whatever I did, he emulated. Whatever I tasted, he ingested. Whatever I thought, he ruminated. I resolved to aid his ascent to manhood with a sense of marvel-lit mission. If he was to climb the Everest, there was one starting point, I must grant him mentorship on how to conquer the heights.
The carnival was in town for a season of frolic. I took the glorious opportunity to initiate him by introducing him to the nuance of levitation. He was with adorned pride while we marched to the rusty Ferris wheel cadenced by some loud Motown beat. I bought our tickets and quickly hopped in for the thrill. There were no seat belts; just a tiny iron rod that latched to our front seats. Our cabin was like a makeshift half-drum of petroleum barrel. It was painted with acrylic yellow, which somehow turned tangerine with the reflective lights.
The wheel did not turn, until all seats were taken. Almost thirty minutes for the wait. We were at the very pinnacle, when the flimsy iron contraption got dislodged, rushing headlong with a quiet thud. No one even noticed except us, who by now have gone into serious panic due to the final descent of the machine. I wailed for the engineer to hit the pause button, but the speed swallowed up any vocal efforts.
My brother shook with astonished tremor, while I held on to him like a gorilla in rigor mortis. There was no room for idealized maxims about any ladder to success; all that I had in mind were stairs to slip us down and out. Nervousness held our bladders from spilling, while our hearts soared to their maximum decibels. After the eternal damnation, we bolted out of the massacre, both trembling and nauseous. My little brother never bothered to look up, nor ask what just ate us.
The god of heights laughed all night long, as two wannabe gladiators disappeared in the thick night, emaciated and utterly dwarfed.
The jargon of blessing could not be uttered. I had nothing to teach, nor offer, except my brawny cowardice that utterly exposed my personal bankruptcy.
A song of ascents.
Blessed are all who fear the LORD,
who walk in his ways,
You will eat the fruit of your labor;
blessings and prosperity will be yours.
Your wife will be like a fruitful vine within your house;
your sons will be like olive shoots around your table.
Thus is the man blessed
who fears the LORD.
May the LORD bless you from Zion
all the days of your life;
May you see the prosperity of Jerusalem,
and may you live to see your children’s children.
Peace be upon Israel.
Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”
Luke 6:38 NIV
Our ninth anchor hinges upon God’s unrivaled generosity. He seeks to bless his people with an ever-increasing measure! The substance of our relationship with Him finds affirmation in the realities of tangible blessings that we receive. To all those who truly fear the LORD, the call to make preparations to receive are given.
Deeply ingrained into our human psyche is a virtuous craving towards endowment. Call it mentorship, discipleship, tutelage, initiation, OJT, walk-through, etc., there is such a unique pull towards impacting others by way of sharing what we think we have received. Be it an imagined mastery over fear of heights or depths, we tend to gather our young, to pass on what we treasure. It is towards this propensity that we are to examine the aspect of what we are currently receiving.
When God is taken seriously, a new kind of living ensues. A person’s walk follows a specific path that leads to the land of blessing. Through the journey, fruitfulness is experienced in terms of God’s promise of prosperity.
Since our faith-walk is towards God, the version of blessing flows from his carefully revealed parameters. We are granted discernment to see that all that glitters is not necessarily gold. Primary in our consideration of true wealth is the blessing of flourishing relationships. We see our families as incomparable bestowals of God’s love. We receive friendships with the honest agenda of genuine other-centeredness. Material grants are seen precisely for what they are: mere materials designed to build God’s kingdom. The fear of the LORD does all these: we are made to receive full blessings in order to make preparations to give up the same, causing others to taste and see true opulence.
We pass on the blessings by receiving the peaceable favor of God’s gifts.
As God’s true people, we understand how rich we have become. We suddenly turn to the grace of generosity and find the joy of giving.
Freely we have received. Freely we give.
Lessons, cars, lives … are received in order to be given.
My first car was a midnight-blue coupe named Brutus. I endowed him with obsessive care and compulsive delight. I guess that’s what happens when your heart is young and toys easily trick your affections into hidden idolatry. Through the years, I have somehow outgrown this myopia and had found a deeper source of grounding.
I just gave my personal SUV to a family who just joined our church. A near fatal accident caused the loss of their only vehicle: an F-150 truck that somehow morphs into a bus to accommodate the young couple and their five kids. It did not take much for me to part ways with my favorite recreational toy, and although it did pinch, I knew the Lord had a better use for it.
That very day, a good friend called to ask if I could be of help. Her old car was just about to be towed away. It was parked at her relative’s front garage for some months now, oil leaking, dead battery, flat tires etc. She was wondering, if I had a room for an extra baby. I said: “You do not have a clue on what I just did. I do need a spare car. Let me help you with it.”
I was looking at an old masterpiece: a 1988 BMW iS Coupe. It used to be cherry red, but has turned oxidized pink. The engine was coated with gunk. She was a silent shadow of her former glory. I got married in 1988, and this was the ultimate eye candy back then. I just had to sign the adoption papers.
The restoration process was both expensive and rewarding. It was close to its mint condition except for a mysterious leak on the power-steering receptacle. I have gone to a handful mechanics that shared my frustration over the riddle. Exasperated with the fluid mess in my garage, I finally went to the snooty dealership. The manager was too impressed with the old steed. He intimated that “she must have been handed down to me by my good Dad.” When I told him about the leak issue. The first thing he asked was what kind of fluid was I using. “Power steering fluid of course!” He smiled and said: “This model does not use power-steering fluid. It is a proprietary blend only from BMW!” It was a forty-five dollar bottle miracle. I drove home and took my wife for a spin. With glee, I said: “Back in 1988, if I had the money, I would have bought this very car, glued the engagement ring on its key and asked: what does BMW mean? Of course … Be My Wife!”
I drove the sterling speedster with growing pride. One day I met a city cop who demonstrated an impeccable demeanor in helping me sort out some regulation issues. I invited him and his wife to join us for dinner. The African-American couple was a delight, to say the least. His wife was a schoolteacher in downtown Dallas. After our dinner, I asked how I might pray for them. They shared an urgent need for another car.
I knew I had to pray alongside. I also know that when one prays seriously, one must be ready for anything. A silent tremor grew everyday within my heart until, I called my friend to ask about the car situation. He said, “don’t worry my friend, the Lord will provide!”
The following week, I invited him to attend the prayer meeting at my house. Walking him outside my door, I told him, the Lord has supplied his need: I handed him the keys, title and license. He stared at the showcase with disbelief. I had to force him to get inside, lest I change my mind.
The uninterrupted string of God’s blessings had found its best expression: while I am constantly on the receiving end, nothing quite compares to the finality of being able to mimic what God does. The gifts that we receive turn into eternal memoirs once they get released to bless others.
Bayerische Motoren Werke AG, stands for their ultimate driving machines, but within the paradigm of my blessed existence, the acronym helps me conjugate a deeper grace: Be Most Willing to give!