Thanks to some recommendations from friends- I'm ready Miroslav Volf's book Free of Charge: Giving and Forgiving in a Culture Stripped of Grace. While I'm only about 60 pages into it right now- it is a deep, insightful book!
**Let me go on record that if Andrea and I have baby boy anytime in the near future- I'm going to push to give him the name Miroslav Volf LaMotte. Everyone will assume he's a great thinker or a NHL Hockey Player from Europe.**
Volf sets out to explain that as humans, we are designed to receive from God and give to others. We can't give God anything for the gifts God gives us. What we can do is share God's gifts with those around us. We are a people who can be only concerned about ourselves, our ego, our bottomlines. Volf says, "It (the self) will seek only its own benefits, and the more it seeks its own benefits, the less satisfied it will become." Think about the truth in that statement. How many actors/actresses, professional athletes, businessmen/women are miserable even though they have millions of dollars, great houses, beautiful spouses, etc., etc.? How many of us "common folk" break our necks working long hours to buy stuff to satisfy our own hungers and desires- and yet are empty on the inside?
The solution, for Volf, is to receive God's gifts and allow God's gifts to flow through us to those around us. "It is as we serve our neighbors- our family, friends, and acquaintances- that the dam holding the flow of gifts is lifted and teh life of God continues its intended flow."
He concludes chapter one with these words:
"You sit on your couch, beer or soda in your hand and junk food by your side wathcing TV for hours- that's ordinary. You work around the clock not because you have to feed your family, but for no other reason than to park a better car in your garage than your neighbors have- that's ordinary. You get up from teh couch to play with your kids or you give your time and energy to help educate a prisoner or lend an ear to an elderly person- that's extraordinary. Why? Because you are giving. Every gift breaks the barrier between the sacred and the mundane and floods the mundane with the sacred. When a gift is given, life becomes extraordinary because God's own gift giving flows through the giver."
As we approach the second weekend of Lent- are we living ordinary lives set on serving ourselves? Or are we giving to those around us because God has given to us?