Give and Take

It’s not all one way.  There is give and take.  There is the in-breath and the out-breath.  There is the two part pumping system of the heart that makes the heart-beat.  There is the offense and the defense.  There is birth and death.  There is listening and speaking.  It’s not all one way.

Having been made in the image of God, it seems that God wanted there to be a receiver and a giver in all of life. That is part of being in and of the heart of God. And, it seems — the way life works…we each get a chance to stand in the shoes of the giver and the shoes of the receiver. For, the more that I get another 24 hours of life, I have come to know that at some point of life’s journey, you find yourself on your knees (both literally and figuratively) — and when you do, you come to know what it means to be on the receiving end of giving. It’s just the way “Howie” made it. You might ask, “Who’s Howie?” An introduction will help:
My young friend clad in our traditional Primary uniform and a full head of bushy hair with a smile and personality to match. “Hey Sr. Bearss, come sit here by me” said my lunch pal. After a review of the contents of every lunch (including my own) he inquired with dancing eyes that could turn any day from darkness to light, “How’s Howie?”

“Howie?” I inquired. “Yeah, Howie. Your friend. How is Howie today?’ he asked again between bites. I did a quick review of our youngest children, hoping that I hadn’t missed welcoming a new child. Trying my best impersonation of our social worker, I took a different angle, ” Um..can you tell me more about Howie?”

With indignation punctuated with his unique pattern of speech he hopped up and stood straight in front of me, “You know…the guy you are always talking about. ‘Our ‘Faw-der who heart in heaven, Howie by d-ye name’ — you know…that guy… your friend Howie — how’s Howie?”

As he was too serious and concerned about my friend, Howie, I didn’t have the heart to correct him, although the first grader across the table gave it a valiant try. Instead, I assured my young prophet that Howie was doing just fine and I was hoping that he and Howie would also be good friends.

Imagine for a minute that we trusted God enough to call God ‘Howie” — and to expect that God was more present than the closest friend we have. For to be willing to receive — to find yourself in the place of ultimate vulnerability that is required to be in the position of need — is to let down the guards of a well-positioned ego and to have no other alternative than to be willing to receive without a chance of return. Life has taught me a great deal about that in these years in Detroit. To have gone from the ‘giver’ to the one in need. To be on the road with the cross and to have been met by Simon with nothing but need. My friend, ‘Howie’ always seems to bring into my life those who give without expecting a return and who teach me again that in order to make the final shot, someone has to give you the ball.

Of Give and Take. It goes both ways. To let ‘Howie’ be so present that I am confident that I will be given all that I need as my response is one of being willing to give — without counting the costs. It is the brief pause between the in-breath and the out-breath where our hearts are open to the give and the take of life.

Today, Lent reminds us that it goes both ways — let Howie do both for you today — expecting you to both be ready to give and to receive

“The Lord is close to the broken-hearted”
Psalm 34