Thursday, June 26, 2008

God Loves a Cheerful Giver

One day in May, I read to the kids from the last two chapters of Luke, and the first two chapters of Acts. When I finished, Elisa said to me, "I want to give all of my money and my heart to Jesus."

Isaiah, who told me he had given his heart to Jesus several months ago, said he also wanted to give all his money to Jesus. I asked them if they understood that if they gave all their money to Jesus, they wouldn't have any money left. I asked Isaiah if he knew that giving all his money away would mean he couldn't buy the Transformer he had been saving up for. He nodded. I told him he did not have to do it, but that if he did, the Lord sees what he gives Him, and He Himself would reward him. He insisted he wanted to. His prayer: "Lord, the only thing I want more than Transformers is You. And I know that Transformers are worthless to You."

For days, we studied the Samaritan's Purse gift catalog to choose how to give their money. Talia insisted she also wanted to give her money. She pointed at a baby held on its mother's lap in the catalog. "I want to feed that baby."

Altogether, their offering amounted to $23. I expected to see them miss their money after it was gone. Not at all. They seem joyful every time they talk about it. Sometimes they ask me again how many babies their money fed. ($9 feeds one baby for one week.)

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Fear and Faith and the Price of Oil

My heart nearly stopped when I opened the mail and saw our new budget plan for oil and propane this year. It had gone up an additional $140 from last year per month. (It was already high.) It's now $10 less than our first house payment, which was only bought six and one-half years ago. I resorted to Lamaze breathing all day long every time I thought of it. I keep reminding myself that the Lord cares for me, and He is not limited by price. We must trust Him, because He is trustworthy, and He has never failed us yet.

I was fretting about a lack of money about 12 years ago. My dear friend Matthew said to me in his Texas drawl (in response to my "But it's $___!!"), "He has a lot more than that, y'know. My Father owns the cattle on a thousand hills." I've thought of it often over the years.

Our Father is the One who multiplied the loaves and fishes, who caused the widow's oil and flour to never run dry, and of whom it is said, "Cast all your cares on Him, because He cares for you." "Be anxious for nothing, but in everything, by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, make your requests known unto God. And the peace of God, which passes understanding will keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus."

I came across this verse out of Deuteronomy 8 as I pondered my needs and God's ability to meet them: "He humbled you and made you hungry; then He fed you on manna." Later in the chapter, it says clearly that His purpose was to do them good. God's purpose is to do us good. To feed us manna, instead of the bread that results from our work.

Why is that humbling? Because I can't do it. Because I need Him. Because it makes me a beggar of God. Jesus said we have to have faith like a child. A child has to ask for its needs to be met. A child can't reach the shelf the cups are stored on. If my children are thirsty, they have to let me know. They can't walk in so self-sufficiently to the kitchen, get their own drinks, and move on with their own plans in life. They don't have life insurance policies and 401k's and savings accounts. They have a father. They have to just be children, and Daddy will feed them.

The daughters of multimillionaires do not concern themselves with the price of oil or of food. It doesn't matter to them, 'cause Daddy's rich. My Daddy pays the bills, and I just need to remember it. And if Daddy pays my bills, it's a lot easier to not hold so tightly to the money in my hands. (If it's not my money, I spend it much more freely.) We needed something to lean harder on Jesus for. It always keeps us closer.

"Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name.
Thy kingdom come.
Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread,
and forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
For Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory forever. Amen."