Mr. Whitter lives two doors down on the opposite side of the street. He owns an old hunting dog named Rosie and a faded blue ten-speed which he sometimes pedals up the hill to collect his dog when she comes to call on our chickens. “Hey, Kiddo!” he says when he sees me.
It has been Mr. Whitter’s objective to get our family out to his cabin. His thirty-acre slice of Alaska lies along a river just past the town of Willow, where the Iditarod starts every year in early March. Decades ago, Jim and his wife built a cabin on the bluff overlooking the water. Over the years, more and more grandkids carved their names in the ladder leading up to the loft, and extra bunk beds have been built along the wall in the great room to accommodate them all.
In other words, it is the perfect place to share with the neighbors and their slew of kids.
Mr. Jim Whitter could not stand the fact that the silvers were running, wild raspberries were dripping on their canes, and the long summer days were already beginning to yawn—and not a single kid was running rampant over his land, taking advantage of it all.
“Just go on out there, and treat it like it’s yours,” Mr. Whitter said, pressing a hand-drawn map into Jeff’s hand. The combination to the padlock on the rusty chain fence was scribbled at the top, and Mr. Whitter had already hauled out the portable generator and an extra can of fuel to tuck into the back of our van.
“I think we’d better go,” Jeff said with a grin when Mr. Whitter left. The thought of being able to shoot targets with the kids at Jim’s homemade range was more than my husband could bear.
But it was Sunday afternoon. I was still in my church clothes, and the children were eating stale popcorn for lunch. Nothing was packed.
A few years ago, that would have been a deal-breaker. A spontaneous overnight camping trip for seven people would have stressed me out to the point of making it less-than-fun for everyone. I would have said no. I would have offered a million reasons why going right now was impossible: My refrigerator was bare, the laundry wasn’t done, and did we even know where the camping lanterns were?
But I’ve grown a little, I guess.
Instead of saying, “That’s not enough time to get ready!” I said, “Okay!”
We fed the chickens extra, made a quick food-intolerance-friendly dinner in the Instant Pot, dug up fresh batteries for the lanterns, and hit the road. I forgot deodorant. At least two kids didn’t pack underwear. But I didn’t stress, and I didn’t give my family an extra chance to practice forgiveness.
Because of that, we got to spend the night in a cabin by the river, nestled in the trees, with beaming kids who couldn’t stop saying, “This is the best place ever!”
I would have missed it all—and forced my family to miss it—if I had given in to my nature that says, “I can’t do this on such short notice and still have a good attitude.” That little area of growth in my life opened us up to an incredible blessing that my weakness would have robbed from me.
I realized that perhaps I’ve been a little backwards in my thinking. I have operated under the assumption that God longs for my sanctification because He is tired of my immaturity. He is sick of seeing the same sins and mistakes day after day. Won’t she ever grow up?
But I am beginning to understand that God longs for my sanctification so that He can pour more of Himself into me. My Father wants to bless me with all that He is; He desires me to grow up into the riches of Christ in the heavenly places. I can reach some of it now, right where I am. But God’s riches are like the cherry tree in my grandmother’s orchard—all the best fruit is in the top branches.
The more I grow, the more of God’s abundance I have available to me. He has such good things in store just beyond the reach of my stubbornness, fear, and rebellion. I think I would be devastated to know how I have closed myself to God’s blessings because I have been unwilling to let go of my lack.
It makes me wonder, perhaps what saddens God the most about my weakness is not the fact that I am messing up, but that I am missing out. I am missing out on His infinite fullness, richness, abundance, and power to more than fill everything that is lacking in me.
Suddenly, God looks a lot like an old man on a rusty bike, holding out a hand-drawn map. “Hey, Kiddo!” He says. “The salmon are running and the raspberries are dripping on the canes, and I can’t stand that you’re missing it.“
The riches of God are there, waiting.
All you have to do is say yes.