Beyond, “What’s in it for Me?”

“…this life is not our life. Our life is eternal, and that is God’s gift to us. And this life is our gift to God.” (Ally Breedlove, When Will the Heaven Begin?)

My husband knows how to give presents. First, he takes mental notes of what people enjoy. Then, he researches the best brand and finally, remembers all the little things that make each gift perfect (batteries, games, accessories, etc.).  The end result is that the person receiving the present feels loved. My husband gets more pleasure out of giving than he ever does receiving.

The above phrase spoke directly to my heart.  Ally was having a conversation with her brother when she made that statement.  I love how she took such a huge concept and simplified it into easy to understand words.  It made me stop and reevaluate how I was living my life.

For quite a few years, at the end of my prayer time, I’ve had the habit of holding out cupped hands, palms upward, and saying, “Take whatever You want, Lord, it’s Yours.  And give back only what You want me to have.” However, the last two years or so, that request has slowly been changing.  In addition to asking God to take and give whatever He chooses, I started adding, “My life is Yours. Show me what You want me to change and then help me to change it.”  He answered that heartfelt prayer by starting out small.  He helped me change little sins I didn’t even realize were sins.  Later He started addressing some bigger issues that, to be completely honest – I’m still struggling with – because they require more work, self control, and discipline.

Reading the above quote showed me a different motivation to use while working on the hard changes. It’s about so much more than what I can get out of obedience to God. It’s more about what can I give to God as a result of my obedience.  There’s nothing wrong with enjoying the promises and blessings that come from obeying God, but for some reason, the phrase above moved me to the next level.


Instead of thinking, “What’s in it for me?” my perspective changed.  When I die, I want to present to God a life lived fully for Him.  I don’t want to waste my time with things that don’t matter, but instead I want my motives and actions with others to always lead them back to the One that really matters, my Father. Since this life, compared to eternity, is short, I have a limited amount of time to put actions to my words of “I love You” to the One who loves me most.

When I looked at it from that perspective, it made me want to work harder, live better, and love more “just because.”  It also changed the way I see the areas of struggle in my life. Instead of thinking about how hard changing can be, if I think about overcoming my challenges as a potential gift for my Father, it gives me more motivation to keep trying and not give up.  I have a bigger purpose.

Just as my husband gets pure joy from giving presents to others, I’m more excited about what I can give to God when I meet Him face-to-face someday than all the amazing blessings that He is waiting to give to me.

© Cheri Swalwell 2014

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