Thursday, June 20, 2013

Radical Living, Radical Grace

Okay, so I already posted today, in the wee hours. But there's something more to say after I read dear sister Ann's post.

Do you know, at the same time the Compassion team is in Nicaragua, Ann Voskamp and her daughter, Hope, are in Uganda? Compassion is doing a story on Ann's sponsored child there.

Here are highlights from Ann's post today:

"Dear North American Church,
After a Sunday morning in Africa, you don’t look the same to me.
You look hungry.

Hungrier than anything I’ve seen in Africa.

Because after I watched that Ugandan woman?
That one woman with no shoes and no husband and 7 kids, walk up to the front of the church and put this bag of beans into the basket as her love offering to God – my heart ached this raw conviction and I could feel it with you, North American Church, what you really wanted:

You’re hungry to love like this. You are hungry for the uncomfortable.
You are hungry to sacrifice your Starbucks coffees, your NetFlix subscription, your dinners out for something More. You’re hungry for more than vanilla services, and sweetened programs, and watered down lives.

You’re famished for More, for hard and holy things, for some real meat for your starved soul, some real dirt under your fingernails, some real sacrifice in your veins – some real Jesus in your blood and in your hands and in your feet."

This is the thing...we need to be hungry for Jesus. From that hunger we find the love, we find the sacrifice to do His work here. To be His representatives, to prove to the hurting that Jesus is alive! You are not forsaken, not forgotten. I am His servant and I am here for you. Take my extra and live

A hunger for Jesus. That's what we need to open our hands not a little, but all the way. Does God give a finite amount? No. He satisfies us, always.

We can give it all and not be hungry, but full.

In the same post Ann writes:

When that Compassion teacher stood under that tree on a Sunday morning and told the kids dressed up in not a whole lot more than tattered rags, “God lets us all give just like the widow’s offering,” he was smiling like he swallowed the infamous, original canary. He couldn’t stop laughing giddy:
“You don’t have to wait to have more, you don’t have to wait to have much, you don’t have to wait at all.”

And I’m looking into the eyes of all these African children, all these hungry, dancing eyes and the Compassion teacher’s literally dancing under the tree: “You all get to give!” It’s not just the rich who get to give – it’s all those who give who get to be rich.

You don’t wait until you have more before you give to God – you give now so you get to become more in God. The children are all smiling and singing and there’s all this light coming like dappled deliverance through the leaves.

“Bring your only mango to Jesus,” the Compassion teacher’s waving his hands in extravagant joy.

It’s not having much that makes you rich — it’s the giving much that makes you rich. Give and you are the rich.

And I’m sitting under a tree in Africa with the richest in the world and it’s not Bill Gates and it’s not Warren Buffet and it’s not Mark Zuckerman and it’s not the family with 2 cars, a flat screen television and one week at Disney.

It’s a bunch of kids in Africa in ripped shirts and torn shoes, who have no knives or forks and sleep on floors. It’s only the people who give sacrificially who get to live richly.

Friends, it doesn't take the right math. When we sponsored our Nelson 20 months ago, we did so knowing it would make my husband short on vehicle gas that week. He would make it to payday only by the grace of God.

He made it. And we've never missed a Compassion payment. We don't have health insurance, we don't have life insurance. We never take vacations or drive more than 45 minutes away. The budget is too tight. We rarely pay for entertainment. We only buy thrift store clothes. We don't buy steak but once or twice a year. I've never stepped foot in a Starbucks (okay, I don't drink coffee,) and I don't remember what the inside of a movie theatre is like. I borrow movies from the library for free.

None of this has to do with giving to Compassion, but more that my husband works a low-wage job.

My hormones change things a little a few days a month, but most of the time I love my life and I wouldn't trade. I wouldn't trade. Having little is a blessing you can't understand until you're there. I am blessed to be living this life...this one right here.

I assure you if you lower your standard of living considerably, you won't be miserable. You will know a joy deeper than your plenty ever afforded you.

If God has blessed you with much, know this: it's only a blessing if you give it away. Heck, you can give away more than you have, and watch it multiply until it is enough. You can give away your last food, and still be fed. Sound too radical? Sound preposterous and irresponsible?

Tell that to the Ugandan teacher under the tree in Africa, who laughs giddy at the miracle of it all.

Sponsor a child here. Nobody does it better than Compassional International. If you read the posts from this week, you will see that. They are God's representative...the hands and feet of Jesus. And you, with your letters, are the heart that says, "Dear Child, You and your life matter. I love you and Jesus loves you. He has great plans for you, plans to prosper you and not harm you. Plans to give you hope and a future".

1 comment:

Beth said...

How neat to hear how God has blessed you and you stepped out in faith.