To the brim


I’ve been thinking lately of God’s extravagance. I’ve seen it in unprecedented ways in my life, starting to glimpse the way He’s using all the twists and turns of late, all the losses and surprises and open doors along the dark, mysterious hallway I seem to be occupying these days. So often my prayer is that I’ll have just enough. That I’ll scrape by, that my needs will just barely be met, that I’ll receive only what’s necessary and not a drop more. This small-mindedness is just so contrary to the nature of God. Our God is generous. He’s a Father and a giver and a lover. He’s extravagant. And I thank Him that He takes my meager prayers and multiplies them as He answers them, in ways I couldn’t possibly dream up.


As I’ve reflected on this divine extravagance, the wedding feast at Cana has become a new favorite of mine. I’ve been going there again and again in prayer, noticing Mary’s attentiveness and utter trust in her Son, the servers’ blind obedience, the headwaiters’ marveling, Jesus’ mysterious, unprecedented providence. There were six stone water jars, each holding twenty to thirty gallons. “Fill the jars with water,” Jesus says to the servers. So they filled them to the brim. I like to imagine what the servers must have been wondering, those precious words of Mary—Do whatever he tells you—fresh in their minds. I’m curious how long it took to fill them and how much they weighed by the end. I wonder if they thought this wedding guest was crazy, if this was a waste of their time, if they did have a spark of hope in their hearts that maybe, just maybe, something extraordinary was about to happen.


Like He did with these servers, Jesus has been asking me to be generous, and bold, and to trust Him without knowing what the outcome could possibly be. It’s no surprise that, with my small-minded prayers, I’m tempted to give Jesus just the bare minimum. To go through the motions of praying and attending Mass, avoiding serious sin, being loving enough to those I encounter. Beneath the surface, my disposition is to cling desperately to control, to claim authorship of my life, to reserve the parts of my heart and my dreams of the future and my comforts and preferences and longings for myself alone, as if He doesn’t see and know and understand them better than I do. As if He isn’t the one who inspired those deepest aches in the first place, as if He isn’t the only one who can possibly fulfill them, as if He doesn’t have the most heart-burstingly glorious plans for my future. But He is, and He does.


Slowly, as I turn more and more over to Him, I’m working on filling my jars to the brim. On holding nothing back, reserving nothing for myself, letting Him take the reins with me as His eager and trusting and hopeful companion. For He is the same Jesus who turned water into wine. The Jesus who is extravagantly generous. The Jesus who can provide for my every need, and a hundredfold more. For the more I offer to Him, the more He can transform.


So, I’ll keep working on doing whatever He tells me, with joyful obedience. On offering to Him all that I am and all that I have, which of course have come from Him. On turning over my heart and mind and plans for the future to Him. For I know that He will fill them to the brim.


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