Laying Down My Life, uh…Afternoon

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Ever really think about the words that you sing on Sunday mornings? Do you really want to “surrender all”? Or do I actually want Him to “break my heart for what breaks His”? Hummmm….


Get settled in to read and be challenged by Karen Dilbeck‘s second guest post in her series on living out what we speak about. I know I’ll be thinking about it for several days. 


(Click here if you missed her first post).


The things we say, the things we sing,

 the things we shout, but do we mean? 


Take My Life and Let It Be


Frances R. Havergal, 1874


Take my life and let it be
Consecrated, Lord, to Thee.

Take my hands and let them move
At the impulse of Thy love.



The Junior League Holiday Market rolled around once a year.  It was the kick-off for Christmas shopping and the timing was perfect–I was so ready for a break. I purchased my $3.00 ticket early and I found some semblance of Christmas attire to wear. I rearranged my carpooling responsibilities, and informed my husband that he was the man for feeding supper to our three boys.  I was tripping the light-fantastic with Sharleen, Tammy, and Jenni, three good friends, all of who enjoyed meandering as well as savoring the sights, smells, sounds and stuff like I did.  


Now, I had a whole day of freedom: no whining, no sticky hand holding, no sudden bathroom breaks, no supper to cook.  This was about me.  It was my day.  All four of us stopped at the entrance and laid out our plan of attack thru the maze of booths.  We agreed: first, let’s go right and then zig zag around.  Then we’ll stop at 12:15 for lunch in their make-shift café.


So our trek began.  The Christmas music was calming and the decorated trees wooed us into believing that, once again, the season was nearly here.  We sauntered down our first row and, as we began turning our very first corner, I noticed that Sharleen had stopped to look at purses in an unusually crowded booth.  


“Look at there prices!” I heard her say as I glanced over.  I wasn’t interested in purses.  I wanted to move on.  But she was rather mesmerized—she liked purses…and these were deals.  Tammy, Jenni, and I moseyed to another booth, but time was a wastin’ and I wanted to move on.  I glanced back over to the purse booth but didn’t see Sharleen.  I walked closer to see if she was in front of the many ladies picking through the bargains.  I actually heard her before I saw her– Sharleen was IN the booth!  


My jaw dropped as I managed to ask, “what are you doing?!”  She smiled and, with her head bobbing towards the booth’s owner, said, “she’s alone and she needs help.  So I’m gonna help her for a few minutes.”


“Really…?” I uttered in my best calm voice.  But inside I was screaming, “REALLY!?!?  You’ve got to be kidding!?!  This is her problem!”


Instead I replied out loud, “Oh, ok.  I’ll come back in a while and get you.”


So I walked down the next aisle and came back to check on her.  She was now in a groove and was collecting payment for the purses that she was bagging for the many customers.  I caught her eye, she held up one finger as if to say, just one more minute, and turned to thank the customer for her purchase.  (Sharleen never, ever, ever means just ONE more minute. Ever.)  I nodded and then walked up and down two more aisles.


I had also lost my momentum.  It was suppose to be the four of us ‘oooo-ing and ahhhh-ing’ over our spectacular finds!  What was she doing?  She had actually paid to come here and then literally laid down her precious shopping time to help a stranger.  This was suppose to be fun–my idea of fun, anyway! What she was doing was work.  It bothered me.  But why?  Why would I care that she stopped?  After all, I still had my precious freedom.  


After two hours Sharleen met up with us at the café.  She held no treasures but she did have a big smile.  With great enthusiasm and detail, she began explaining what had happened even before she ordered her food: “I walked up to look at the purses and noticed that she had no help.  It was obvious that she was totally overwhelmed! She said that she had never had a booth here before so had no idea that her purses would draw in that many people.  So, I just started helping.  She was very happy about that!


“That was really, really sweet of you. But, Sharleen,” I countered, “you didn’t get to shop!”


She cocked her head at that novel thought, smiled and replied, “Oh, that’s no big deal.  She needed help.  I’m going back over there to check on her after I eat.”


And check she did. And more booth time ensued.  Her whole afternoon was given to a stranger.


When we headed for the car, I just had to ask: “Uh, did she pay you….?”


“Noooooo!  She offered but I wouldn’t accept it!”


“I woulda….,” I thought to myself, but didn’t say aloud.


I had lot to think about.  Why had I been so bothered by Sharleen’s gift of time to a total stranger?  She did that soooo easily, without so much as a thought.  It was as natural to her as throwing her head back and laughing.  She didn’t brag about it, or act proud about it.  Nor did she act like she had given up anything.  And her gift to this stranger didn’t really affect me, except for the fact that there was one less person to oooo and ahhhh over my finds.  So why was I troubled?  Why did her selfless gift to stranger bother me? 


It bothered me because I would never, ever, ever consider doing that.  Ever.  


It bothered me because God was using her to show me how far away (how very far away) I was from, not only recognizing His nudge, but also how very far away I was from actually laying down my time, my desires, my preferences, no less my life for even three measly hours.


“Take my hands and let them move at the impulse of Thy love….”    Honestly, how had I expected that to look?  



Karen not only writes and speaks from her home near Atlanta, she also has her own etsy store! Check it out.