Deuteronomy 8:17-18 (The Message)
17-18 If you start thinking to yourselves, "I did all this. And all by myself. I'm rich. It's all mine!"—well, think again. Remember that God, your God, gave you the strength to produce all this wealth so as to confirm the covenant that he promised to your ancestors—as it is today.
This Verse stuck in my heart as I went for a jog. I have been thinking about all the recent events, even the trials I have endured over the years, trying to make sense of them all. I think sometimes we undergo a trial and then get stuck on it because we can't figure out why it happened or what to learn from it.
I've also been thinking a lot about our Leadership Bible Study. I've been thinking about Francis Chan, in the video, talking about a Korean minister who among a few others survived being captured in Afghanistan. His pastor and most of his fellow church co-workers were martyred. And now that he was back in the safety of Korea, through interpreters, he tells Francis that he wished he could be there again! Because in the middle of that extreme suffering and torture he experienced a closeness with Jesus that he could not experience once he was comfortable and safe.
I also think about how Francis Chan sells over $500,000.00 in books and sermons and tithes 90% of his income. Still drives a 92 Honda scooter, and his family (wife and four kids) live on the "poorer side of town" in California. He sends a lot of money to an organization that rescues sex slaves overseas. He's perfectly comfortable in a good way - in a "living simple" kind of way. And yet he is stretched in a passion to see God's work done here on earth. And by all worldly accounts he seems successful, though you wouldn't think that by what he drives or where he lives.
Would I live the same way if I had that kind of income? If I can't trust God enough to give 10%, why would He give me more so that I could give 50%?
We have made decisions to live more simple and thus be able to be more generous comfortably. Ditched a couple of things that we like to spend money on (like got two good pairs of sneakers and an at-home exercise program instead of a gym membership), we're looking for a new place to live that may be smaller and thus cheaper, but its ok (and we really REALLY like our apartment! And our landlord! And our yard!). We share one car and I'll be taking the bus when Paul has to drive it. Our car is also old and paid off so we don't have car payments, and we don't really need another car as a couple as long as I work downtown (it's a pretty central location!).
And I hunger for the opportunity to GIVE a little bit more!
We did Relay for Life and we fundraised a total of $571 for the First Church of God team in Anchorage. That's a BIG DEAL! We are a VERY SMALL CHURCH! And then for March for Babies I fundraised $110. Which the cool thing about these things is that not all that amount came out of my pocket - but I did sacrifice some time and energy.
May I interject here, KUDOS to my hubby who stayed all night in the 30 and under degrees freezing cold at Relay BY HIMSELF so that I could go home and get some rest. THANK YOU HUNNY BUNNY!
But I want to do a little bit more... find a way to make a bit more of a mark.
And here is an issue that I'm praying about but it has Paul terrified: I want to do foster care. Paul is kinda overwhelmed w/ the kids - and rightly so, because our house is full. But it's full of love too... and I know a lot of kids in Foster Care could benefit from a home like ours, even if its just temporary, to encourage them thru their very, VERY tough time.
It actually started with a desire to adopt - from China, Haiti, or the Middle East. I did my research and we can't adopt from Haiti or the Middle East. Haiti requires you to not have any biological children and be over 35. The Middle East requires you to be practicing Muslims to adopt overseas. But it's an expensive and long-term decision, something I still have the heart for. So I prayed about this and thought, well, maybe God wants me to support an orphanage overseas or something. I dunno.
But I still want to ... love on children other than my own in my own home. I don't think I'll ever adopt here locally because I want to reserve those efforts for a child who, in an orphanage overseas, is not doing nearly as well as any child in the U.S. But I feel that even temporarily, even while things are being worked out...
And Paul is like, "You got your cat. I want my dog and my fish before we bring ANYTHING ELSE into our family." And he's also like, "We're overdone w/ 3 kids. We're full."
And yet I'm still praying... Are we? Maybe right now is not the time, and we have some kinks to work out here at home... I'm not naive in saying that doing foster care would make our home like the Brady Bunch... I know it would stretch us, even try us.
But at the end of the day, I'd rather be stretched and tried for attempting to do something selfless than to have to be tried and stretched out of my comfort zone. At least I know that the trial in my attempt to bless someone else won't be in vain.
On a different but similar note, I've reached a conclusion towards suffering: It's bound to happen. Life on earth won't be a complete cakewalk for us. And through it all, the only thing the trials have done are strengthen us, and build us up. We have seen the faithfulness of our God to sustain us through the ugliest times. We were not destroyed. We did not go without. He has always been faithful to us and He always will! So like the song says:
There's a raging sea right in front of me
wants to pull me down, bring me to my knees
so let the waters rise, if You want them to
I will follow You
I will follow You!