I was the oldest child of four in our family. My brother - the fourth child - was born when I was 9 1/2 years old.
Because he was so much younger, my sisters and I were often amused by some of the things he said.
When he was 3, I was 13. And as teenage girls are prone to do, I began the quest to diet. (It's a never-ending quest in my case!) Anyway, I would often ask for half a piece of cake or just a small scoop of ice cream for dessert.
When I would ask for a small serving, Kent would tell my Mom, "I want as much as you can give me!" And we would all laugh.
But as I thought about the April theme for Lovely Branches, More of God, I remembered Kent and his enthusiastic request. And I thought about how life would change if I embraced God with as much fervor.
God shouldn't be confined to 30 minutes of "quiet time" each morning or night. He isn't just found by opening an email devotional that predictably arrives in my inbox each day, though those things definitely help focus my eyes on Him during a busy day.
I've been reading a book, Grace for the Good Girl: Letting Go of the Try-Hard Life by Emily P. Freeman. I don't know how she got in my head from long distance, but she did. It's hard to boil down this book into a neat and tidy summary, but essentially, she encourages women to realize this: In Christ, we are free to receive from Him rather than constantly try to achieve for Him.
Not that we are fit (qualified and sufficient in ability) of ourselves to form personal judgments or to claim or count anything as coming from us, but our power and ability and sufficiency are from God.In order to receive, we have to first let go. Emily writes:2 Corinthians 3:5, Amplified Bible
You are not accepted because you are good.
You are free to be good because you are accepted.
You are not responsible to have it all together.
You are free to respond to the One who holds all things in His hands.
You do not have to live up to impossible expectations.
You are free to wait expectantly on Jesus, the One who is both Author and Perfecter of your faith.
I am a do-er and a worker and a listmaker. And that's OK. But I need to realize God loves me - no matter what. It isn't about crossing things off my to-do list. It's not about trying harder. It's not about me. It's about God:
For it is by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not from yourselves. It is a gift of God.When I receive a pretty, wrapped birthday gift, I don't race off to my to-do list to see if I deserve it. I untie the ribbons and excitedly open it to discover what's inside.Ephesians 2:8
So why can't I accept the gift of God's grace with such graciousness and ease?
Instead of asking for a half portion defined by my humanness, I need to embrace God's love and grace with an open mind, open hands and open heart, and exclaim with as much enthusiasm as Kent did with his dessert request:
"I want as much as you can give me, God!"
**You'll want as much of this dessert as possible, too. Double Berry Cheesecake Bars won a national contest for a Kansas baker and would be a great dessert for your Easter dinner table. When you click on the link, it shows the recipe made in a 9- by 13-pan. Recently, I made the dessert in a springform pan, as shown in the photo above. Either way, it's a winner! Now that fresh raspberries are available in the grocery store, you could also "dress it up for dinner" by decorating with fruit on top.
Enjoy and Happy Easter!