Saturday, August 6, 2011

EXTRAVAGANT Love

“Oh, no!” I gasped, breaking the quiet of my Saturday morning in bed. “Honey, I was supposed to pick up those consignment clothes an hour ago!”

“Well, I’ll just go and get them,” my husband offered.

“It’ll be too late!” I wailed. “They donate everything that’s not picked up by a quarter after!”

“Well, maybe they haven’t done it yet,” he said hopefully. “It’s worth a shot. I’ll go now.”

30 minutes later I got his text: “They’re gone. I’m so sorry, Sweetie.”


My first child was born nearly 8 years ago and her baby sister is now 5. I’ve been dutifully adding their outgrown clothing, shoes, toys, and baby gear to a collection that has grown as fast as they have. The piles, storage bins, boxes, and bags that filled our entire guest room closet and a whole corner of our garage were like a nest egg I wasn’t ready to cash in.

Every season I sign up for the next round of consignment sales, and every time I end up bailing at the last minute. The thought of cleaning up, hanging, pinning, taping, pricing, and tagging every single item I’ve stored over the last 8 years was downright overwhelming.

Yet, when my husband's job status changed this summer and we put our house up for sale, it was time to downsize. For over a week I spent several hours a day carefully preparing my children’s consignment items for the upcoming fall/winter sales. It was tedious work. And it was emotional. As I unearthed tiny pink onesies and toddler-sized OshKosh overalls, memories of my girls as babies flooded back and my heart was full.

But I got through it, assuaged by the thought that, despite our difficult financial circumstances, I would still be able to buy school clothes for my kids this fall using my consignment earnings. I signed up for all the sales, even committing to work a 4-hour volunteer shift just to get a spot at one of the big ones. Whatever didn’t sell at the first big sale would go to the other sales, each in turn, until most or all of it had sold. THEN I would donate what didn’t.

But all my planning went out the window with one forgotten step. How, after all that effort to prepare for “Drop-Off Day,” did I forget “Pick-Up Day?!” It’s not like me to forget anything. But forget I did.

I called my mom in tears. Through all my blubbering I managed to tell her we’d found out the clothes were donated to a community somewhere in the Appalachian Mountains of KY. There was no getting my things back; they were gone forever.

“Stephanie,” my mom said sympathetically, “those people in that area are so poor; you have no idea. Those children couldn’t dream of having clothes as nice as your girls’ in a million years. There are going to be some mamas who are thrilled beyond words to receive all those beautiful things.”

“But why all the effort if I was just gonna give it all away?” I begged. “I could have donated it myself. But I saved it and consigned it because I was trying to be a good steward of the only resource I had for providing new clothes for the girls this school year.”

“I know, honey,” she said gently, “but don’t put it past God to have had you save those things all these years just for that sale so that your things would end up in the hands of those people at this time. He cares about every detail of your life and theirs. What you intended for one purpose, He apparently intended for another. And just as He has used your things to provide for someone else, He will provide for you.”

“You’re right,” I conceded. “He has been so extravagant in His love toward us during this season of loss and transition. Why would He not also be extravagant toward other mamas whose babies need new things, too? What an honor that He would use me (and my forgetfulness!) to bless them in that way… all while I was thinking I was the one in need with nothing to give. How precious He is.”

I got off the phone with my mother and turned my attention toward my Father. My tears of regret had turned to tears of gratitude and wonder. My Lord saw fit to use me, even when I wasn’t looking to be used! When I had only the needs of my own children in mind, He met the needs of dozens of other children I’d never even thought of. I imagined the faces of those young mothers as they dressed their precious little ones in tiny pink onesies and stainless name-brand overalls, and hoped they would know that God sees them and that He delights in blessing them.

Call it a mistake or a divine diversion, but God used my forgetfulness to His glory. It’s not just our moments of piety that God uses. He also redeems our mistakes, even our sins. How incredible! Who but God could take something bad and make something good out of it? And why does He bother? When He could make anything He wants from scratch, why does He use our failures… and THEN (get this!) let us share in the glory?!

Oh, how He loves us, Beloved! I can’t explain it, but the Scriptures tell us what kind of God He is and our very lives confirm it. He is a God of mercy, of tender-heartedness, of forgiveness, of second chances. He is a God who repairs, who replaces, who redeems. His is a God who can be trusted, who is worthy of worship. He is a God of love, and His love toward us… is EXTRAVAGANT.

And we know that God causes all things to work together for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose. –Romans 8:28

© Stephanie Yax: 2011