A couple of times a year, my kids and I help with a local ministry in our area called My Jerusalem where volunteers set aside a Saturday to make repairs on homes for those in need. Our role has been to help with the Cookie Ministry. We help put together bags of cookies and then deliver them to the homeowners and workers as a demonstration of Jesus’ love. It is an excellent opportunity for my kiddos to practice giving to others.
However, this time did not quite go as planned. My older two were tied up with other activities, so it was just me and my precious little three-year-old. We started the morning at a community pancake breakfast with friends. Smooth sailing. We helped pack and sort cookies. No problems there.
And then we went to deliver.
“Ok, now Hazel, we are going to take cookies to some sweet ladies and tell them that Jesus loves them.”
“No! I want cookies…”
“Well, I’ll fix you yummy cookies later, but these are not for us. We are going to give them to the volunteers who are working so hard and the sweet ladies they are helping…”
“No! My cookies…”
I took a deep breath as we pulled up to the first stop. Unfortunately, she hadn’t magically developed a giving spirit in the 10 minutes it took us to get there, so I put on a smile, set her down with a bag of cookies to give away, and optimistically walked to the door. Let’s just say after polite greetings and an opportunity for her to willingly hand the older lady her cookies, they had to be pried from her sticky little hands. I apologized and told them we “are working on that” and got out as quickly as I could. Thankfully the whole room got a kick out of it and laughed about this being a good “learning experience” for her.
So, on to the next stop. On the drive over, I tried again.
“Ok, now Hazel, I know you want those cookies. But they are not for you. We are going to give them as a gift the way Jesus gives us good gifts. So, this time, when we meet the new lady, I want you to hand them to her nicely. Ok?”
“Ok…” (in a pouty voice)
I took another deep breath as we pulled up to the second stop. I put on a smile, set her down with a bag of cookies to give away, and optimistically walked up to another sweet lady. We made introductions, told her we had some goodies for her, and I waited with anticipation to see how my little angel would do…she dropped them. On the ground beside her. And walked away.
On to our last stop. On a wing and prayer.
“Ok, now Hazel, I know you still want those cookies. And it’s hard to give something away that we really want. And I’m proud of you for making the choice to give the last lady her bag of cookies. But this time, let’s try to do it with joy and gladness because we are helping someone else.”
We pulled up. I took another deep breath. And a volunteer came over to tell me our last lady was not there. I won’t lie. I think I audibly sighed a sigh of relief.
But, here’s the thing. As I drove away, I was thinking about how this was not one of my better “mommy moments” and what. a. handful. this little lady of mine is.
I was praying for the Lord to work in her little heart…but He was working in mine.
You are just like Hazel, Maggie. You pick up your hopes and dreams, your worries, your fears, your family, your friends, and even your past mistakes. You hold them tightly, with a firm grip, all the while, knowing you should give them to Me. Sometimes I have to pry them from your hands. Sometimes you begrudgingly drop them beside Me after much prodding. But I want you to willingly place them in My hands. I want you to give them to me joyfully and with gladness. I want you to release them to me, trusting that I will handle them with care and work them out for good, in my perfect time. My hands are open…
Giving things to the Lord is not easy. I like control. I like doing things my way. And in all honesty, sometimes the Lord can feel distant, and it just seems to make more sense to handle things myself.
But the truth is that He is the ultimate cheerleader for my hopes and dreams. He is the ultimate problem-solver for my worries. He is the ultimate peace giver for my fears. He is the ultimate Father for my family and friends. And He is the only One who can forgive me for my past mistakes and help me release them.
I pray that the Lord will continue to work in my heart, and my babies’, to give freely and willingly and joyfully, all that our hearts are holding onto. And I pray you will do the same.
So the next time someone says, “Give it to God…,” we can. And mean it.
“The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.” Proverbs 16:9
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways submit to him, and he will make straight your paths.” Proverbs 3:5-6
Maggie Meadows Cooper
Maggie Meadows Cooper is a wife, mother, educator, and blogger with a longing for women to grow a heart for Jesus and others. She is the author of the children’s book Bumper, helping others to see that the heart is what counts most. She blogs at The Little Moments and contributes to IBelieve Truth: A Devotional for Women, Devotional Diva, and the Connecting Ministries Blog. ! She lives with her husband, three children, and two rambunctious dogs in Opelika, Alabama.