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No rationing

Thursday, April 15, 1999

John 3:31 and John 3:34
"The one who comes from above is above all; the one who is from the earth belongs to the earth, and speaks as one from the earth."

"God gives the spirit without limit."

The New American Bible reads "He does not ration his gift of the Spirit." When I was a freshman in high school Mrs. Rogers talked us into memorizing several passages from Shakespeare's Merchant of Venice, including

"The quality of mercy is not strained;
it droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven
upon the place beneath."

I think about the abundance of God's storehouse today, on this day when those of us who must render unto Caesar, do so. The lines will be long, coffee and donuts at the post office, some people maybe even finishing their tax returns as they stand in line. Our resources are limited, and we give them up grudgingly.

And so it is true with our emotional energy as well; in the play Portia was begging Shylock to be less a human and more like God...

"(Mercy) is an attribute to God himself;
And earthly power doth then show likest God's
When mercy seasons justice."

I speak and live like one from the earth because that is where I am bound. I can give and receive only in very limited ways. And so I beg God, not Shylock, to release me.

The over-and-over message of the Bible is that he is willing. The limitless gift of the Spirit will release me and make me whole. Nancy Summers writes, "We may always wonder why some prayers seem to go unanswered, but we can be sure it is not a problem of scarcity or stinginess. There is no end to the blessings God yearns to heap upon us."

And that becomes my personal experience as well, when I look far enough past my own self and my own perspective and my own limited idea of what comes next.

Open me up, Lord, to what really does come next. And let it come.

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