A few years ago I was in Toronto with a friend attending a conference. We were flat broke and used just about all we had just to get to the conference. Our plan was to eat peanut butter & jelly sandwiches and sleep in her VW Bug….we were young and adventurous to say the least. Our first night in town we were walking down the streets of Toronto and passed a homeless man named Jeff. After walking about a block my friend and I looked at each other I said “I think we were supposed to feed him.” she said, “let’s do it then” and we turned around bought him a footlong sub, talked for a little bit and then continued exploring downtown Toronto. Our friend Jeremiah took us out to dinner and we ended the night in the front seat of her car. The next morning we woke up at about 6 so that the church wouldn’t know we were sleeping in their parking lot and moved to a Courtyard Marriott (which had the most delicious smelling continental breakfast you can imagine…especially if your breakfast is a nutri grain bar) and then at about 8 we began searching for a gas station to brush our teeth and change our clothes…then we headed to the conference. And that’s where the fun began….In the lobby we talked to these women from California who thought we were crazy, we met a few people from all over the world and then found some seats. At lunch time we were heading out to the car to make our sandwiches and the ladies from the morning stopped us. “Do you want our meal tickets for the week?” they asked. Um…yes? That’s $160 worth of food between the 2 of us, lunch and diner every day…for free. Absolutely! Then they asked for volunteers to help clean up at night…free breakfast in the morning..our hands shot in the air…there’s breakfast for the rest of the week! And just like that peanut butter & jelly turned into 3 square meals a day. Then somebody asked us if we would like to stay at their house…um, yes. And then somebody offered the couch in their hotel room…oddly enough it was the same hotel that had the delicious continental breakfast from the first day….which I helped myself to on the last day.
All of our needs were completely met. more than met…
So, being a Christian, I decided to ask God about our week…why were we given all of that for free? His response? “When you feed my people I will always feed you.”
I should have known. We didn’t feed Jeff because of what we might receive from God. We fed Jeff because he “had not” and we “had”. Granted, we “had” very little…but we still had more than Jeff and so we gave, willingly.
The Bible is very clear about this. Luke 3:11 “If you have 2 coats and your neighbor has none, give him one of your coats”…(that should be common sense) And because God is God and he’s pretty generous with his kids he also says “Give and it shall be given to you, a good measure pressed down and shaken together and running over” Luke 6:38
Fast Forward 5-ish years….present day.
Ever since I stopped working to stay home with Zoe I have asked God to keep our hearts generous…knowing that it was going to be a struggle. When you’re looking at the bills and they’re more than the income…questions and doubt abound…but we know that we’re doing what God has asked for our family and so faith is the only way to go…and pray pray pray. I believe in tithing. I believe in giving. Brad and I have tried to make generosity one of the foundational aspects of our marriage. And it is very hard when you’re broke.
Sunday came…our first on one paycheck. And we wrote our tithes check like we always do. I had quite a bit of faith for that. I know that God is unflinching when it comes to tithes and I know that “what you sow you reap”…so there it goes….off into the offering basket.
And then it was Tuesday…I took my dog for a walk and one of my neighbors saw me…that evening when I was leaving to pick Brad up for work she approached me. (I should note that I live in not a great neighborhood) She asked if I knew anybody that was looking for a housekeeper or somebody to do yard work. I replied that I did not know anybody. Then she told me that she was just looking for something to help her get through until Friday. She has a kid too. Right now she needs bread. Just $10. I replied that I don’t carry cash and that I have to go pick up my husband…we’ll talk and I’ll bring whatever I can over to her house when we get back.
I didn’t talk to brad. I did talk to God. What normally would have filled my heart with compassion…didn’t. Where I would normally jump to fill a need…I didn’t. I knew that I would bring her food….how could I not? But I didn’t want to. So I just prayed…because I wasn’t there yet. Brad and I ran some errands and finally got home. 2 minutes later our doorbell rang…it was Yvonne. I quickly filled Brad in. We decided that we’re not giving cash…but we can give food. Brad said, “How can we give food when we have barely any ourselves?” I said, “I know…let’s just give her what we have extras of” And so Brad filled a bag and off she went. My main hesitation was that we would end up in this situation every week…and she would want us to support her. Brad went about his business and I was really quiet.
The week went on and attack after attack came on our finances. I wanted to scream and cry….and I couldn’t get over how much I didn’t want to help Yvonne….but reminded myself that when you pray for something God tends to respond by giving you opportunities to GROW. My mom called on Friday and I just vented all of my frustrations…with the IRS, insurance, Yvonne…everything. She was at my house in 10 minutes. 30 minutes later we were all packed into the car headed to Publix…my mom was filling my cupboards.
I didn’t ask her to. God did. She was simply obedient. And as we walked down the aisle she kept insisting that more and more food be put into the cart. She paid for the groceries and then headed home. Brad and I got home and started unloading. With each item I took out of the bag I said “thank you God. thank you God. thank you God.” it became like a mantra.
We gave Yvonne a grocery bag full of food. My fridge is fuller than it’s been in a long time. So is my freezer. And my pantry.
It will be given back to you…a good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over.
God reminded me of 5 years ago…and he taught me again…
thank you God for object lessons