Wednesday, July 18, 2012
a trip to the hospital
One of my favorite things in life is to meet new people and to hear their stories. Often times, my job leads me to places and events where new people abound. Instantly I find myself surrounded by new histories and stories rich in character. And because of my job, I hear stories of heart ache and happiness...the stories that often get left out of your general dinner conversations. Sometimes as I sit in hospital rooms and living rooms I imagine that I'm actually in a scene from a movie listening to the main character tell the beginning of their life story right before a flashback in the narrative. I'll never forget the hospital visit to led me to the foot of the bed of a 90 year old woman who was a nurse or something of that sort during World War II. She lay unconscious as her nurse retold some of her stories. That was an interesting, if not ironic, occasion.
Yesterday, though, my job led me to a hospital room where one elderly, faithful member of my congregation sat in bed. She never complained about her condition and only spoke of God's ability to heal her body. But as I stood there she began to recount some of the history of our church. She is one of the few who have been here since the beginning. Her and her family made an investment in this church and its future and they are still making that investment.
She recounted a conversation that she and her husband had a few weeks ago.
"You remember when Oklahoma had that big lottery a while back? Well, I asked my husband what he would do with all that money if he won."
I asked, "What'd he say?"
"He said, 'Well, I wouldn't win because I don't believe in gambling, but if I ever had a million dollars I'd first write my tithe check and then I'd ask Pastor Mike what else was needed for the new building and I'd give it to him.'" She continued, "I asked him if there was any left if I could have a new dress."
To the average reader that may just seem like a retold conversation that happened a few weeks ago between an older couple, but to me it really speaks so loud of the character of this couple. Conversely, I see the stark differences between my generation and their generation. It inspires me to long for something that they've got and I need...commitment to the cause of Christ no matter the sacrifice.
If I won a million dollars, yes, I'd my pay my tithe first and my taxes, but then I'd get out of debt and I'd buy a house. I would do things with the money to make my life and my family's life more comfortable. I'm sure I'd give money to my church and other charities. I know I would. But the bulk of that money would most likely go towards my future and the future of my family. I suppose that really there's nothing wrong with using the money to make my future and my family's future better, but how is that going to advance God's ultimate purpose in the world? Ah-hah. That is what makes it wrong.
I know in my heart that I'm deeply committed to the cause of Christ. More than I want any single thing, I desperately want to see the lost saved, the believer discipled and the hurting healed. I want to see God restore His Church to a community of people who have the power of the Holy Spirit working in their lives to see the world radically transformed through His love. BUT all of that takes a sacrifice. It takes a sacrifice of time, money, energy. It takes me sacrificing what I want for what HE wants.
So...I'm probably not going to be able to spend that a million dollars to make my life more comfortable. In fact, that million dollars is probably going to have to make my life extremely uncomfortable. I'm probably going to have to use the million dollars to give more to the poor. I may have to adopt some children. I may have to be a foster parent. I may have to sell everything I own and move to Africa. I may have to invest in the lives of silent trafficked humans of our world. I may have to.
But it would be worth it.
Sure, my life wouldn't be comfortable. I'd be doing things and going places that are no where near comfortable, but I'd be happy because there's no better place than the center of God's will.
In Pastor Mike's message from Sunday (that's my pastor) he said, "Pay now so you can play later." Do the hard work now so you can relax later. Maybe we could apply this: Give your life, your all, now so you can receive for an eternity later.