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If you’ve spent much time at church, you know the story. The rich guys put large wads of cash in the offering plate while the poor widow gave the only two pennies two her name. Jesus then tells his disciples that while the rich guys easily gave large sums out of their wealth, the widow gave more because it was all she had to live on. The theme is, of course, about giving sacrificially and proportionally. Or, as King David put it, “Why would I give my God something which has cost me nothing?” (Jon Wilson paraphrase) I, throughout my life, have heard this principal mostly in reference to church offerings and charitable donations. However, a recent experience gave me a new insight into this story. Allow me to share.
This summer, had the privilege of working with a group of twelve high school students from inner city San Diego. The group comprised mostly of kids from very rough backgrounds who had only recently invited Christ into their lives. Each of these kids had amazing stories of hardship and survival that were difficult even to hear. For example, one boy showed me the scar from a bullet wound to his knee. He is fifteen years old. Another student told how he had seen more people get killed than he had fingers to count. He also is fifteen years old.
Thus, when they arrived as participants on an Amor Ministries house-building trip to Tijuana, I understood why most of them were choosing to go out of their way to serve others for the first time in their young lives. Until the point they met Christ for the first time, their primary concern had been survival, not service. In that light, it was a joy to see them wade into uncharted waters and truly find the joy in helping those in need in the name of Jesus Christ. Indeed, within a few short hours of arriving to the worksite, the students were laughing, singing, and loving the family they were helping. As the work days passed, the group made every effort to be involved in the life of that family to the point of playing with the children, sharing meals, and attending multiple evening church services. s is usually the case, most of this was accomplished with little verbal communication between the group and the family.
For me, I delighted in seeing young people take a step in faith and then in seeing them so rewarded. I was blessed to watch kids who for most of their lives had been told what they would never be or do understand for the first time what they really can accomplish in Christ. It was like watching twelve candles being lit in a dark room.
But now I get to tie this in with my first paragraph: What spoke loudest in the actions of those students was not their joy to serve, but in the manner in which they did so. Truly they gave sacrificially even to come on the trip. As stated earlier, they are younger high school students, most without jobs, from poor families and rough neighborhoods. They had to find a way to raise the participation fee to come on the mission trip when no doubt there were other areas of their lives where the money could have been used. As cool as that is, it is not the remarkable part of the story. As hard as giving of their resources must have been, this group of students had to give up who they were to God to allow themselves to serve. They had to put their overriding sense of self preservation, at times the only thing they felt they could depend on , aside in complete trust in God. They all did, and they all flourished.
The lesson for me was that giving of my time and my resourcs, though important, should not be my goal in service. It should be the byproduct. If I claim Christ in my life, haven't I already recognized that all I "own" is actually his? My goal should be to truly give of who I am. The things I have always used to define my are what I should be offering to God to do with as he chooses. If I tell someone I am a friend, brother, son, redhead, Seahawks fan, surfer, or Christian, shouldn't that already be filtered through who I am recreated to be in Christ? And because this is a blog and blogs are often subject to digression...Based on that question, isn't the will of God in my life not so much a specific bullet point on God's agenda as it is the decision I have every morning to wake up and choose Him?
So maybe the lessons are questions, but I found them worthy to share. Have a great day and God Bless.
Good one John- i'm blessed by reading it. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and experience.
My heart leaps over these kids. How awesome - How great is He - who redeems, who makes up for the years the locusts have eaten.
"Fear not; YOU WILL NO LONGER LIVE IN THE SHAME OF YOUR YOUTH...WILL BE REMEMBERED NO MORE....the Lord has called you back from your greif..." Isaiah 54.4-5
May we look at these youth and by His grace - see ourselves...
I think this is one of the concepts I love most about Christianity... it's all about sacrifice. What does it cost each person to be where they're at on this journey. And only God knows our hearts. Understanding this truely takes away any comparison we might be tempted to do with our brothers and sisters. Thanks for showing me your blog!! Hope you're having an awesome week. BTW, Paul and I are back at 6th Ave... walking distance again from all the fun stuff!!
Love You Jon