• Jonathan Deatherage

It would have been enough (dayenu)

Almost two decades ago I attended a Passover Seder as a way to prepare for Good Friday. I’ll never forget the moment at which everyone got up and sang a song called “Dayenu.” It’s Hebrew for “it would have been enough.” Then it proceeds to recount the ways God delivered Israel from the oppression of Egypt, and after each act of God it refrains, “dayenu!” As if to say, “It would have been enough for God to have simply delivered us from Egypt, but still he did more!”

I don’t know about you, but I so often live in a state of want. I feel like I don’t have enough money, enough time to myself, enough energy to care for the people in my life, enough wisdom to lead, enough words, enough listening. I’m always chasing the “more” that I need in order to get through my day. (I’m also an Enneagram Type 5, so if that’s you, this is where naturally we live most of the time.)

For me, there is a corrective of dayenu. It goes like this: 

The Son came from heaven and took on flesh.

It would have been enough…

The Son came to us and revealed the Father.

It would have been enough…

The Son loved us with the love he received from the Father.

It would have been enough…

The Son poured out his life unto death.

It would have been enough…

The Father raised him in power to life everlasting.

It would have been enough…

The Father and Son sent the Spirit to live within us.

It would have been enough….

That’s the gospel, right? This is the ground floor upon which the entire edifice is build. But when my soul is roving the earth for sometime to supply me, the words of John 1:16 echo true in light of this: "From his fullness we have received grace upon grace."

From the fullness of the Son (as seen in the gospel) I have received grace to be present with people. Grace to love. Grace to have money enough for my daily bread, because my Father is taking care of my needs. Grace to have wisdom in leadership. Grace to rest in his love as I listen and care for the people around me. Grace to speak truth when it comes time to speak.

As an introvert, I love time alone. I would even say I’m greedy for it. If given the chance, I will hoard alone time so I can feel centered in my life. But the corrective of dayenu leads me elsewhere. Is there ever a point at which I say to myself, “It would have been enough to have an hour reading by the fire… God gives me what I need to get up and get into my world.”

At some point the shift has to happen from resting in what has been given to taking it on faith and moving into action, believing that the fullness he has given will never be exhausted. 

If we are the branches, as Andrew Murray once pointed out, the Vine delights in our emptiness. The act of pouring out is healthy as we receive from the True Source. Where is there room for him to fill if I am never emptied out? And, what’s more, I can take delight in being emptied, believing that my Source will delight in filling me.

Fullness is not mere given so we will be full. This is still the wrong mindset. Fullness is given — grace is given — so it can be poured out. Just as the Father pours out his love for the Son, and just as God has poured out his love for us through the Spirit he has given us (Romans 5:5), so he invites us to take his fullness in faith and pour ourselves out. 

That scares me a little bit. Maybe it scares you, too. But I guess the risk is why it’s a life of faith.

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