The Beauty and Freedom of Free: What I learned in giving books & time away

Nov 2, 2010Find joy today, Kingdom Uncaged, Write!

I took a bucketload of books to Cape Town with the desire and prayer to give them away. I prayed that the Lord would direct me to give to who needed it. I met with a professor in Australia who seemed interested in Authentic Parenting, so when I got home, I shipped several copies to him. When I did, I felt such a freedom, a joy.

It reminded me of the first major writing conference I attended as an unpublished newbie. The speaker, Randy Alcorn, spoke of bringing his books with him wherever he went, a trunk full. He sought the Lord, and asked who he could bless with a book.

Before that conference, the Lord spoke very, very, very directly to me. He showed me my life in technicolor–a dream of early pain and struggle.

“I’ve endured a lot of trials,” I told him after the dream.

“You have. But will you withstand the trial of notoriety?”

Those words, Will you withstand the trial of notoriety, have echoed through me these past seven years.

I’ve deviated from them at times. There have been hyperactive moments in my career where I stressed over marketing. Where I worried incessantly about money and compensation. Where I saw my time as valuable, and doled it out in stingy doses. I learned a lot during that time. So much. I have regrets. But I also have hard-won wisdom, the kind that comes from making mistakes, from not withstanding the trial of notoriety well.

So I’m learning afresh to open my hands–in surrender to Jesus, in openness to you, in generosity. I’m reminded of this verse in 1 Corinthians 4:7: “What do you have that God hasn’t given you? And if everything you have is from God, why boast as though it were not a gift?”

Everything I have–the clothes on my back, the dog at my feet, the talent in my brain, the air that I breathe freely–all a sheer gift. Why do I behave as if it’s all mine, mine, mine?

My response today, in this moment, in this longing to make Jesus smile. “You can take my life and all I have. I will sing (write) Your worth with all I am.” These are lines from my new favorite worship song. You can watch it below:

You Are Enough from Elevation Worship on Vimeo.

Last night I gave a talk for the Rockwall Young Life banquet. Afterward I manned a book table where I chose to give away books rather than sell them. I lost money, but the joy in doing that enacted new freedom in me. So much of life, I fear, is this tight-gripped fist. When I release the fist and joyfully throw my cares to the Creator, I find freedom. It reminds me of one of my favorite movies, Sense and Sensibility. Willoughby loses Marianne because he loves money more than he loves her. But Colonel Brandon, in sacrificial love, pursues her heart. He knows it’s not money that he loves. The last scene made me weep the first time, and it still gets me teary. They are now married. Colonel Brandon reaches into his bag and throws cold coins heavenward. She is worth much more than gold.

That’s how I want to be. Jesus is worth much more to me than gold. May it be that I throw my coins heavenward, ever trusting in Jesus, not consuming myself with bottom lines as much as I concern myself with Jesus.

The coin scene is toward the end of this video clip.


  • What holds you back from donating your time, talents and treasure for the kingdom of God?
  • What lessons have you learned about marketing and the Master in the past six months?
  • What advice would you give me in learning to withstand the trial of notoriety?