This morning, my husband and I were scheduled to speak briefly during both services about our stewardship testimony. We have been studying, praying, reviewing our old Crown ministries workbooks and listening to Andy Stanley sermons online in preparation. We have talked through our "bottomline" on stewardship attempting to boil it down to a neat 3-5 minute message. We thought we were prepared. The early service was fine. We said our piece and felt like we could just 'tweak' a couple of things before the 11 service.
But, a funny thing happened on the way to the pulpit: Sunday School. The lesson was actually the testimony of a man who had just returned from a short term mission project in an incredibly impoverished area of Mexico. As he described the conditions...thousands of hungry people who lived in shacks and relied on the church for their one meal a day...our neat little picture of stewardship suddenly seemed so hollow and feeble.
I began to wonder how I in good conscience could stand before our wealthy congregation in my Sunday finest and speak about Biblical giving when I had just heard a true story of Mexican women weeping as they placed their best beans in the offering plate. It felt ridiculous, frankly.
Suddenly my mind and heart were so conflicted. I believe God owns everything. He is Sovereign. He is the Giver of all gifts. I am incredibly grateful. I long to live a generous life. I believe in giving of my time, talents and other resources. I try to be mindful of wisdom in spending (but mess this up a lot). Yet, I can compare myself to others and feel pretty good about my obedience.
But then there are those moments where reality is so clear and so convicting that you simultaneously wish the moment had never happened and yet cannot resist being deeply thankful that it did. A momentary glimpse of reality that strikes you to the core and changes your perspective. Like the lessons God can use a hungry, impoverished Mexican woman to teach an American housewife, even though they have never met.
The talk at the 11 o'clock service was different. Rather than sharing our 'wisdom,' we confessed that we are merely on the journey too. We are trying, but we stumble. The first step was to confess. Now, we are trying to process.
How can we keep a right perspective? It is so hard to stay above the pull and the fray of the world. How can we raise children who are aware of how blessed we are to live in the affluence of the USA?
Lord, thank you that I own more than one pair of shoes and live in a home that is cool in the Summer and warm in the Winter. Thank you that I never wonder if I will be able to feed my children the next meal. Thank you that I can drive my comfortable car to the grocery store on a whim to purchase things. I don't have to work the soil or pray for rain or wonder when or if the next relief truck is coming with more rice and beans.
I have more than I need Lord and, frankly, most of what I want. I don't say that to brag. I say it as a humble, grateful confession.
Father, help us to live this life gratefully, generously and always listening for your voice. Show us how to manage what we have wisely. May we be true examples to our children of obedience to your Will in every aspect of our lives.