Giving: An Energy Drink for the Soul
By Stacie Ruth Stoelting
I felt out of place. Sparkles on gowns and bubbles in glasses threatened to dazzle me. At an opulent gala in Washington, D.C., some of the wealthiest and most famous people glided to and fro throughout the ornate banquet hall. Wine and champagne bubbled over, as did some of the guests.
I gulped. (Don’t panic! I thought.)
What was I to do in such a place? As a young author, speaker, and Christian singer, I wore a simple, on-sale red satin dress. It was modest, but chic, I’d thought when it was purchased. Now, I had my doubts. I shifted my black patent heels and prayed.
Why did I feel uncomfortable? Well, I’m just a gal who lives on the outskirts of a small but lovely, and loving, town in Iowa. I wasn’t accustomed to the customs of millionaires in the big city.
I determined not to budge from my roots. I decided to branch out and share Jesus with the rich and the poor.
Suddenly, one of the wealthiest women pounced upon me. While I silently prayed, the catty woman preyed on my listening ears. She rambled on and on about herself, her wealth, her standing, blah-blah-blah. (Don’t worry: I tried my best not to look bored.) Then she shocked me awake with a confession: “When or if I get a terminal disease, I am heading to my son’s state so that I can quietly kill myself.”
It jolted me.
Like the lady, so many people live, and die, for themselves. The world will tell you that it’s “all about me” and make you try different ways to get your joy and energy. But, in reality, it’s beyond that: It’s all about loving Jesus and others.
That reminds me of Kathi Macias, a very special lady, and a story she recently shared: “[My teenage granddaughter, Britney, and I] walked into a department store together, and the first thing she did was make a beeline for the cosmetics counter, where she was intrigued with a new perfume called ‘It’s About Me.’ I realized then what we were up against in convincing young people (and those of us who aren’t so young!) that life really isn’t about us, but rather about loving and serving God and others.”
Besides analyze, what did this concerned, Christian grandma do about it? Well, Kathi Macias wrote a book. (No, your eyes aren’t blurry from staring at your LCD screen. Your vision’s fine. She actually wrote a book.) Now, that’s what I call a great grandma! Wait until you read the title of the book: Beyond Me: Living a You-First Life in a Me-First World. How refreshing! Kathi has a powerful ministry in this department. (Click here to read more about her writing ministry.)
Her ministry’s message reminds me of what Jesus said to us: “'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'” (Matthew 22:37-39, NIV)
Hmmm. I don’t think it said to find your inner self. It’s more like a “get out of yourself” message. We need to love others as we desire to be loved. (To learn more about God’s love for you, take time to be sure you know Jesus and His love personally. Click here.)
On a side note, I’m not talking about loving others while you neglect your health. That’s the other extreme. But the topic of godly attitudes toward health is another column!
Let’s get back to the point. The focus is on others: God and our neighbors. Who is our neighbor? Anyone who lives with you on planet earth. Now, here are four tips to energize the soul:
1. Exit the driveway of self-focused living. When you first begin to go out of your way to help others, you might feel like it’s a construction zone: A massive road block entitled “Schedule,” one lane called “Fear of Failure,” and some distracting detours keep us from speeding forward to help and love others with a selfless love. But here’s the good news: helping others is not like a construction zone. We just feel like it is.
2. To give is to live. In reality, helping and loving others adds fuel to our engines. We’re able to accelerate and enjoy fantastic trips of joy as we reach out to people in our path. To dry up generosity is to starve the soul. So let’s be generous. Here’s Scripture to prove it: “The generous man will be prosperous, And he who waters will himself be watered.” ( Proverbs 11:25, NASB)
“Let love for your fellow believers continue and be a fixed practice with you [never let it fail]. Do not forget or neglect or refuse to extend hospitality to strangers [in the brotherhood--being friendly, cordial, and gracious, sharing the comforts of your home and doing your part generously], for through it some have entertained angels without knowing it.” ( Hebrews 1:1-2, AMP)
3. Love others the way the Bible teaches. Ask Jesus to fill you with His love for Him and for others.
“[Let your] love be sincere (a real thing); hate what is evil [loathe all ungodliness, turn in horror from wickedness], but hold fast to that which is good.” (Romans 12:9, AMP)
4. Jesus’ joy energizes the soul better than any brightly-packaged energy drink (or alcoholic beverage) on earth! “But you have made me very happy, happier than they are, even with all their grain and new wine." ( Psalm 4:7, NCV)
Now, I’d like to share one more thing about the gala. I didn’t have as much fun – even with the filet mignon, fancy fish, and ultimate celebrity entertainment. (Name a big name and he/she was likely there.) Instead, as I exited the exquisite hotel banquet hall, I entered deep thought: I didn’t have as much fun as I do when I’m on the go for Jesus.
It’s true: As we shift focus from ourselves, we receive far more than what we give. Jesus said so: “Give, and you will receive. Your gift will return to you in full—pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, running over, and poured into your lap. The amount you give will determine the amount you get back.” (Luke 6:38, NLT)
I know it from experience: Jesus’ joy and love give me a bigger kick than any brightly-packaged energy drink!
Guess what? Ask Jesus and He’ll refill you with joy and energy for free, too. Refills, anyone?
Remember: With Jesus as our soul’s water source, we’ll win the race of life.
Note from the Author:
Connected! isn’t a typical monthly column. Think of it as an e-mail. Feel free to reply. Reply to: email@example.com. Or add me to your "Friends" on Facebook. After all, I want to be a friend and introduce you to my Best Friend, Jesus Christ. We’ll cover issues relevant to our generation. Most of all, we’ll connect with Christ. If you don’t know how to connect with Him yet, click here.
As a Christian singer who, in her words, “counters the counter-culture,” Stacie Ruth Stoelting and Bright Light Ministry share how to have true victory over tragedies and trials. She loves Jesus! And she loves to help people. (She knows what it feels like to “wistfully wish for help.” That memory helps to ignite her passion to help others.) Though young, she already has experience: At 15, Stacie Ruth wrote Still Holding Hands: Bonus Tips for Caregivers & Tips for Helping Families Facing Alzheimer’s, depicting her grandparents’ romance, and victory over Alzheimer’s. Celebrities (i.e. Pat Robertson) endorsed it and/or Bright Light Ministry. At 20, she sang for President Bush. In dramatic programs for all ages, she speaks, acts, sings and entertainingly inspires. Feel free to invite her to speak and/or sing at your church or school. Visit www.brightlightministry.com.
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