This Thanksgiving, Why We Need Your Wine (Yes, We Really Do!)

I am home for Thanksgiving this year, back from my Colorado trip. So begins my winter life (and yes, it is snowing today! Soon this will be my view out my kitchen window). 

I cried a lot on this trip. Including at a lunch with a friend in Colorado. We met 12 years ago, but I did not know it. And now we met again at a restaurant I followed my google maps to. 

We sat there the two of us, picking at our salads, and leaking rivers, stories, startling our waitress, who lingered to hear what words were bringing such a flood. But it was Him, really. Someone she couldn't see, except maybe on our faces. He was making us cry, the One who has pursued us all our days, Amy and I, and who has not let us go, not through childbirth and ocean storms and islands and darkness and joy.

These words together were enough. But do you know what she did, this friend? This friend who had to wrangle a babysitter and then drive some distance to meet me, a woman she had only met once before, long ago. Who maybe did not even remember her . . .  She spoke words of blessing over me. Words that startled, that I did not believe. But words that meant,

Keep going. Keep listening to God. Keep doing what you're doing. 

It happened again on this trip. And again. People pouring out kindness, generosity, through open doors, a beautiful table, little girls on my lap, a drive through Garden of the gods, a soul-deep lunch with my agent, a pizza reunion with dear friends, pumpkin cookies made and delivered with love, a joyful editing session, eight strangers, holding hands around a table praying for the book I am finishing . . .   

        I came home this time, this one time not emptied and exhausted, thinned to a reed of need----but full. Overflowing. Wine running down the cut-glass sides, Believing maybe God was here, after all, in this work that I cannot turn away from. Believing maybe this lifelong work has value to someone. Believing a few people are listening and somehow, mysteriously, beyond all deserving, God has quickened some of those words. Could it be true? 

And what about these words, found this week. Is it possible that these words are true?

Samuel writes,

He brought me forth also into a large place: 

       he delivered me, because he delighted in me. 

I felt that delight this trip, though mostly I doubt (God


 in me, in us??? (My stubborn Calvinism protests.) 

But Samuel's words go on:

The Lord rewarded me according to my              righteousness: 

according to the cleanness of my hands hath he recompensed me.

 For I have kept the ways of the Lord, 

           and have not wickedly departed from my God.

My Calvinism protests even stronger.  No, not according to my righteousness has He rewarded me! No, not according to the cleanness of my hands. Have I really kept the ways of the Lord? I know myself too well . ... . No, it is nothing but mercy, nothing but astonishing mercy that He attends to me, rescues me, drenches me. 

And here I would rest---savoring and greedily gulping, swallow by swallow, all I had been given. 

And then the phone call came. Then the email. Another email. Another phone call. 

I was ready (almost).

The cup tipped. Wine spilled. Prayers fell out, for healing, for a friend's daughter in the hospital, for a struggling son, for the midnight falling upon a friend's every morning. Cookies were made. A package mailed. Tears spent. My heart so bent with the hurts of others. 

But Bent gladly. 

Spilled gladly.

Here is what I have to say today, though surely you know it already. Don't cover your cup. Let others pour in. Receive as from the Lord. (Yes, He DOES delight in you! Never mind your Calvinism that delights in groveling unworthiness.) 

And then don't hoard it. Don't drink it all. It's been given to you so you have something to give to others.  

The freed man standing before the King who would not free others? 

The blessed man kneeling before the King who would not bless others?  

The glutton given a feast with the King will not share with starving others?

This will not be us.

As you tip your cup this week, the drink you pour will fill ten 

more, a hundred more glasses, and like that, 

never will an end come to the feast 

begun by One.


(And pass it on here! How have you been emptied and filled this week? You may yet fill an empty glass even now . . . )