We gathered in a circle to pray over the women that would be the recipients of the piles of donations collected. Purses, shoes, sweaters, belts, and toiletries filled the space around us. The prayers offered were thoughtful and heartfelt, but as the time of prayer tarried, I had a growing conviction. While I could hear the sounds of prayers spoken and held tightly to the hands on either side of me, my own thoughts overwhelmed me.
What you are doing isn’t heroic.
I tried to wrestle this thought to the ground with an argument against pride and for sacrifice. However, even the words of my own argument were unconvincing. We stood as women that had gone to our closets, most of which were overrun with excess, and plucked out a few items we really didn’t like, anyway. This giving wasn’t a sacrifice. We didn’t pull out our favorite sweater as an act of love for the woman escaping abuse, nor did we give our best handbag. We gave out of abundance; excess.
The items that were in our midst would be quickly forgotten. Giving out of excess isn’t the same as sacrificial giving. Sacrifice is the act of surrendering something prized. When I glanced at the piles, I saw items pruned from the has no value section. This kind of giving is relatively simple; there is no real love loss.
As we stood praying, I understood that this giving wasn’t an act of courage or bravery, either. Conviction and tears welled up in equal amounts, and the moment lent itself to my own personal refining in the middle of that large prayer circle.
When it was my turn to pray, the confession and apology that formed from my words might have shocked those around me, but it was an honest cry. I spoke back to the Lord the words He had placed on my heart.
Forgive me for giving out of my abundance and then puffing up in arrogance about my good work. This act is not heroic. Refine me, Lord. Help me learn to give sacrificially.
That moment will not escape my memory. I won’t regret saying those words aloud. I am truly grateful for the conviction I experienced that day-while standing in midst of excess-in the circle of community prayer.
I pray that moment of refining lasts a lifetime. Please Lord; continue to draw out the impurities in me.