radical response (chapter 6)

Hello, friends! I’ve missed you! (It’s okay if you didn’t miss me. I’ll never know.)

Just gonna get something off my chest right off the bat. Today was one big giant pity party. Thrown by me. In honor of me. And no one came but me.

Pa-thet-ic.

But thanks to my friend Sandi and my amazing husband and my forgiving, resilient children, I think I’ve packed up the party favors and am ready to move on.

Shall we?

Did Chapter 6 step on your toes? It didn’t step on mine. Because the giving and the letting go of stuff and the living with less? That’s not what I struggle with. God has (painstakingly) worked a lot of those kinks out already in my life.

But all I have to do is substitute the money/possessions thing with “time” or “reputation/popularity” or “career/success” or “doing things my way” or a host of other blahblah, and there’s my ouch.

Ouch.

I loved Chapter 6. I nodded and amen-ed and said “Yes!” and “I’m in!” and “Bring it!” But I find myself totally overwhelmed by the need and my lack of resources to make a dent in any of it.

I exchanged an e-mail with this sweet gal today (Read her blog! You won’t regret it!) I was sharing with her the beginnings of an idea I had–a way to bring some hope to the dear women she works with in Haiti. This is part of what she said in reply: It’s beyond hard in this country, but when God reminds me that He is busy advocating for Haiti, grabbing the hearts of strangers far away, it brings me such encouragement and peace. Your email today was one such reminder that God has not forgotten this place, these women, and Haiti’s children.

And I felt warm and fuzzy for a minute. And then overwhelmed all over again by the scope of the poverty in this world.

But I have a renewed sense of purpose right this very minute. I can’t do it all, but I can do something. I can pray. And I can spread the word about people in need. And I can encourage people to donate Expecting books. And I can sponsor a little girl in Mexico and hopefully one in Thailand. I can pray. I can sell things to help people who have nothing. I can team up with people at my new church to reach out to those who have been marginalized right here in our community. I can pray. I can save my book/speaking $ for a trip to Cambodia. I can hold that $ loosely in case God wants to use it for something else.

I can pray.

Once again, I could copy impactful quotes until I’m blue in the face, but you’ve (hopefully) read the chapter. You know what it says. I do love this one though:

“We are discovering the joy of a radical gospel inside us that produces radical fruit outside of us. And as we meet needs on earth, we are proclaiming a gospel that transforms lives for eternity. The point is not simply to meet a temporary need or change a startling statistic; the point is to exalt the glory of Christ as we express the gospel of Christ through the radical generosity of our lives” (135).

Meeting people’s physical needs and meeting their spiritual needs goes hand in hand. And I so desperately want my life to be characterized by radical generosity in every sense of the phrase.

And this quote moved me to tears the first time I read it: “We learned that orphans are easier to ignore before you know their names. They are easier to ignore before you see their faces. It is easier to pretend they’re not real before you hold them in your arms. But once you do, everything changes” (139).

Yes it does.

Father, break my heart for what breaks yours. Empty me for your kingdom’s cause. Whatever the cost, I want to give my all for you. And for the least of these. Oh, God, don’t let us waste our lives.

1. What excited/scared/overwhelmed you about Chapter 6?

2. Did you take issue/feel bothered by/question the truth of anything he said?

3. Anything specific God has laid on your heart to do in the days/weeks ahead?

15 thoughts on “radical response (chapter 6)

  1. Keri

    I don’t even have to reread this chapter to remember it. This one hit me hard. I’m like you….the stuff and giving is easy for me. My husband knows that I’d give everything away if it was up to me.

    What was hard for me was to not be judgemental towards others when reading this chapter. To keep my thoughts focused on what God was teaching me and not on trying to be everyone else’s Holy Spirit. Not thinking about people I know well who have so much and could be doing more with it. God has ME reading this book and this chapter was about ME being reflective about my priorities and giving.

    It was difficult to not feel utter despair for the world around me. Difficult to feel like so much of life is not fair. Why we have so much and others have so, so, so little. I don’t understand it. I feel guilty. I find it hard to strike a balance. So, like you, I pray. And I make sure I’m sensitive to what the Holy Spirit leads me to do. I make sure my focus on giving is not just monetarily, but also my time and my love.

    It was a hard chapter to read because it was uncomfortable. But I am thankful for how much it challenged me.

  2. Sharon

    This chapter is something I seem to struggle with a lot. I have had conversations with Ali before the book on this topic. I know friends that tell me God wants you to have blessings and enjoys seeing you blessed. I agree. The problem is I think that is an excuse and a way to justify the excessive material possessions and money spending that is consuming their life. I think the blessings He gives us are of a different nature and much more rewarding than anything money can buy. We can all give more, do more and be more. At what point is enough? I guess when you feel the peace in your heart that only comes from Him you know. I don’t have the peaceful feeling enough and need to work on that. I do feel the blessings and rewards daily from Him and it is nothing that money has taken care of. This has been a great reminder to me!

    1. Marla Taviano

      Wow, Sharon. I think you nailed this. The best blessings of all are those “of a different nature and much more rewarding than anything money can buy.” Like daughters who love Jesus and the cutest grandkids on the planet. 🙂

      I’ve been asking that question too–How much is enough? And I think you’re right–when you feel the peace that comes only from him.

      Thanks so much for encouraging me this morning!!

  3. Melissa Irwin

    Hi Marla – just got your comment. Funny – the Spirit inspired me today by a soup craving. I was thinking how thankful I am to have some homemade soup in my fridge, rather than having to open a can of condensed soup and add water. I just LOVE the way He speaks to me. 🙂 So glad you are back. You were missed.

  4. Marla

    I am so struggling an internal battle with this chapter. I am one that LOVES to shop and spend money and find myself at times “justifying” my purchases or being lazy and not cooking dinner and spending money to eat out. When I think back on how much I have wasted on “things” it makes me sick. I live 15 minutes or less from one of the poorest cities in America and what am I doing nothing! Here I am sitting nice and comfortable in my house, typing away on my computer, while kids in Camden, NJ would give anything to have warm clothes and a warm meal. It’s time to stop thinking that someone else will take care of them and actually do something to help. It was stated perfectly in the book that it is a WAR – I live a constant battle to resist the temptation to have more stuff not just for myself but for my kids. When I say CONSTANT, I MEAN CONSTANT!!! I always seem to have an excuse, well if only we didn’t have the debt, then we could do more. It’s time to stop making excuses, and the thought of it all gives me a headache and makes me ill – but I know it is necessary. It’s time to start taking care of the children in my own backyard that have nothing and need to know their is a bright future ahead for them and that they are loved.

    There is a Christian organization called Urban Promise that is located 15 minutes from my house that I have made contact with to hopefully start volunteering time and resources to help the kids in Camden. Excited to see where it will lead!

    1. Marla Taviano

      Proud of you, Marla. I’m excited to hear more about Urban Promise! I’m with you on the too-tired-to-cook-let’s-get-some-fast-food thing. I do that waaaay too often and just tell myself, “Well, I’m too busy serving God.” Sometimes that’s true. Most times it’s not.

  5. Katy

    Oops, I read the wrong chapter this week. Well, 6 was really good, and convicting when I read it last week.  God has been doing a work in me, but there’s still a lot more sanctifying left…  To be honest, I almost threw this book in the trash when I read the bottom of of pg 146 in chapter 7, but then I read pg 147 and felt much better. That’s all I’ll say since that’s the wrong chapter but  I’m really loving this book!

  6. alittlebitograce

    so i went in a different direction with my post. and i also through myself a pity party yesterday. yesterday was so bad that at one point i started seriously wondering if there was some spiritual warfare going on. perhaps someone doesn’t want us to be radical?

    i hope your day is better. my heart is breaking for haiti too. but what can i do?

  7. Rachelle

    I loved that quote too( “We learned that orphans are easier to ignore before you know their names. They are easier to ignore before you see their faces. It is easier to pretend they’re not real before you hold them in your arms. But once you do, everything changes” (139).)

    It’s so true that we essentially don’t care until we see and we know that these precious children exist. Now we know. And my heart hurts over everyone last one of them and I can’t save all of them, but maybe, just maybe, Lord willing, I can save one. Please Lord let us all save one, for your glory.

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