Monday, June 30, 2008

A Lesson Learned...

I quickly dotted the tears from my eyes before they made their dramatic exit in an effort to avoid any of the other mom’s noticing my little break down during my sons swimming lesson. I figured the swimming lessons would be a great idea for Josiah to build up his confidence in the water and have something to focus on before we leave for Thailand. It’s been great for him…he’s doing great and it’s the best $25 dollars I’ve spent on him here! But not only has it been great for him but it has been great for me…

Little did I know that this hour every day would affect me so much. It began when I started reading “Redeeming Love” by Francine Rivers - WOW! I had two friends that just sold this book to me and once I finally picked it up to start it I was completely…HOOK LINE AND SINKER -- HOOKED. I have to say it’s right up there with Frank Peretti’s “This Present Darkness”. I could not put that book down and I finished it in 3 days and that is saying A LOT considering I still had to maintain my house and take care of my children. I highly recommend you reading this book…it will bring you face to face with the love that God has for you in a way so clear it hurts.

Anyway, I was given a book called “Living Beyond the Possible - Trusting God with your finances and your future” by my father-in-law, Curry. We were talking about God and I brought up finances and how God had provided for us yet again to purchase our tickets and how amazed I was and how amazed I was that I‘m amazed that God provided yet again when he has never failed. Curry was sharing about how God has blessed him and didn’t deserve it and we were both just kind of basking in God’s goodness and then later on that night he handed me this book.

My father-in-law is great at that by the way…I can count several times when we’ve had a conversation and within a day or so he hands me a book that has to do with what we’ve talked about. It’s like his own little way of ministering to me. I think books move him so much that that’s a way he feels like he can bless me and boy did he this time. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed this book. When I looked it over I said to myself “we’ve SO got this believing God and trusting God thing down Curry but I’ll give it a read…”.

Boy was I wrong. You guys, I was sitting at that pool today repenting for my selfish attitude. God clearly said to me today "Freely you receive, freely you must give"...for the whole 4 years that God has been meeting our needs and taking care of us I've always felt like a beggar.

I've felt bad when people give to us as if I was doing something wrong or that I needed to do something to make up for it. There were other issues for that from my past but one thing that God showed me today is that through all these years we could have pleased him all the more if when we were given something for free we would give it away for free. We did sometimes but usually it went something like this: Example - all the clothes that we were given for Jossalyn are way more than we will ever what was my bright idea? I was gonna take them to a consignment shop and sell them to get some money to buy things we need. God spoke and told me "Freely you receive, freely you must give".
The motorcycle that was given to us here in was given to us...what did we do...we sold it so that we could have money toward a car in Thailand. It sounds like the smart thing to do...most people wouldn’t find any fault in that…and I know that God does that sometimes (gives you something so that you can sell it and have money) but he's teaching me a lesson. He told me that it should be a matter of prayer "if we CAN sell what we have been given" instead of it being a matter of prayer “if we should just give it away“. Giving it away should be the standard to continue the blessing on instead of it being the road less traveled.
Boy have I missed it. It's like I've been living in protective selfish mode...John always thinks of that kind of stuff and I'm the one who reminds him to "be smart". How shameful! I am just so humbled by God and how he has blessed us and I'm humbled by the understanding that I missed out on blessing other people by thinking I have to make a way on my own and I CAN'T BELIEVE I'VE BEEN SO SELFISH and NEEDY when I've been so blessed.

There I was thinking that we had this whole "all we have for God" heart and I was still holding on trying to take care of us by my own means instead of doing unto others as God has done unto me. As if he’s not going to provide a way for a baby monitor (what I wanted to sell Jossalyn’s extra clothes for) and as if he’s not going to provide some form of transportation for us when we need it while in Thailand! He is the ultimate example! PRAISE THE LORD! I'm so encouraged!
Man...I had giving away things and not being attached to things but was deceived into thinking I was trusting God with everything. As soon as we had something to sell then I did and thought nothing of giving from the money I received from selling the item. I always praise God for the free item...but never considered what God would want me to do with the money I received from selling the item or if he wanted me to sell it…or give it away.

Wayne Myers says it so well...I have been grasping...

"If you want to be poor, hoard. If you want to be needy,
grasp. But if you want
an abundance, scatter - after all, we only own what
we give away. If you can't
release it, it owns you and is opposite of the
way of the Kingdom of God, which
is to live with an open heart and an open
hand. I've never been blessed by a
hoarding, selfish Christian, have you?
Neither has God." Another quote from the
book: "Faith that costs nothing and
risks nothing is worth nothing. If you try
to always play it safe, if you're
afraid God is going to let you paint yourself
into a will never
see God's miracle-working power for you

I don’t know about you friend but I want to see God’s miracle working power PERSONALLY! I want to share another excerpt:
“ Martha and I were honored to share in the Heins’ ministry to these Africans who had survived drought and national chaos and still held on to their faith in God. I knew that the message I had shared in some of the wealthiest churches in the United States , Australia, South America, Europe and Asia had the power to change the lives of those poverty-sticken, war-ravaged believers. But I needed courage - how could I tell such poor people to give?

I was looking into the eyes of some of the most desperate people in the world. But someone had to tell them that God’s irrefutable laws would work for them just as it would for their fat, wealthy American brother. I shared the scriptures with them and challenged them to think of others.

“all of us can give something,” I admonished them. “If all you have is a handful of peanuts, share a little with your neighbor, help someone lift their load, carry water for the older grandmother.”
Suddenly there was a commotion in the crowd. I could hear the sounds but couldn’t see what was causing everyone’s attention to be drawn to the back of the crowd. I stopped speaking and asked Martha if she knew what was happening.

“It’s Debbie, the Heins’ nine-year-old daughter,” she told me. “She’s taken off her shoes and is trying them on the African children’s feet, trying to find a fit so she can give them away.” Debbie’s instant response to the message was no doubt registered in heaven as one of the quickest acts of obedience on earth. Her simple childlike innocence resoned that she had something that her poor, barefooted friends needed, and so she gave what she had.

Her unselfish act was the perfect illustration for my sermon. That nine-year-old’s spontaneous reaction that day is to me what giving is all about. She didn’t have to weigh the pros and cons of giving up her shoes, nor was she concerned that she would be barefoot for the remaining days of our time at the border. Debbie didn’t ask her parents if they would buy her another pair before she shared her own with an African girl who needed them. It was a gift from her heart.”

Isn’t that incredible? I just love that story and his book is filled of moving stories of people giving from their heart when their physical means say that they have nothing to give or they would be idiots to give what they felt they should give.

I want to share one more excerpt from when he was talking about the widow that took care of Elijah even though she had but enough bread to feed herself and her son before they were surely going to die of starvation. In strolls Elijah and tells her…AFTER SHE’S TOLD HIM THAT SHE IS RETURNING HOME TO PREPARE THEIR LAST MEAL BEFORE DEATH…make me a small cake of bread FIRST and then go home and make the rest for you and your son! Can you imagine? Would you do this?

Here is the excerpt:

“Elijah’s principles of giving will work for you and me today:
1) Refuse the fear that says you will go without if you give
2) Put God’s needs before your own
3) Step out by faith in obedience to what He told you to do.

Why would God ask a poor, starving widow to take care of someone else’s need before her own? The same reason He asks us to support the missionary, feed an orphan, or supply Bibles in a foreign land…because He wants us to experience the kingdom of God advancing in the world through our personal lives. We are always the winner, never the loser, for following the formula for giving laid out in the Bible.

Did you notice that the prophet didn’t ask the widow to feed the whole village…or build a church…or buy a new chariot for him? God always starts with what we have. For that widow making on little bread-cake took all the faith she had and that’s what God wanted from her.”
OK last quote and it’s a doozie: “Let me encourage you to stop telling God how big your mountain is, and start telling your mountain how big your God is.”

I am so humbled by this book. I had this idea that I knew what it meant to give all for God but here I was grasping and that’s what kept me in that constant conflict in my heart. I knew in my spirit that I was still grasping. When I had the opportunity to give and bless others I with held…sometimes knowingly and sometimes just out of habit…either way it’s unacceptable.

I am so grateful to a God that gives and gives and gives to those who put their trust in Him. I praise God that because of my own selfishness he did not hold back from meeting our needs and blessing us beyond our needs. I pray that you too will ask God how you can bless those around you and let go of any things that you might have, or that might have you and go get these two books!
"Money is an instrument that can buy you everything but happiness
and pay your fare to everywhere BUT heaven..."
I thought this was hilarious so I had to had this...on a lighter note...


Anonymous said...

Wow. Thank you for sharing. It blessed me to read this. And i love "Redeeming Love". Probably one of the best books I've ever read, besides the Bible. :) Francine Rivers also wrote "the Sin-Eater", and there is a movie by the same name--also very good. Keep searching for God in everyday things. I praise God for his work in you. It is evidence of his chosen people! Love ya! Deborah