While reading my favorite Book, I had one of those “moments” and I’m trying to process it through writing.
The process started while reading words like “out of the most severe trial”, “overflowing joy”, “extreme poverty”, and “welled up in rich generosity”…
I wondered how on earth these statements could co-exist in the same sentence ! It all seems so opposite ! What could make that happen in real life ? Then more statements like…
these people “urgently pleaded with us for the privilege of sharing in this service to the saints” .
People were begging for the opportunity to share with others… begging? The same people who were in that category of “extreme poverty” were begging for the “privilege” of helping others ???
My daughter, Carrye , originally inspired me in this thought — reminding me of the story of Moses, a guy in the Bible, who called on his people, the Israelites, to bring their offerings to help build the Tabernacle (their “mobile church” of the day). Now you have to realize these people were the ones that wandered around in the desert for 40 years and I’m wondering where on earth they were going to find anything to offer in the first place !! But, amazingly enough, the people did in fact come up with great offerings and they were so generous that at one point the leaders had to get up and basically say, “Stop ! Don’t bring any more. We have MORE than we can handle” (my paraphrase). Now I know all of you are going to be running to your Bibles to see if that story is true because you’ve never heard any church say, “stop giving — we have enough !!” — so… start reading in Deuteronomy 25 and keep going through chapter 36… it’s a great read !! 🙂 )
So this giving of your money and possessions thing seems pretty clear but a “moment” began happening for me as a shift took place in my mind from possessions to positions …a “what if” kind of moment.
Follow me for a minute on this shift to …the moment . I remembered the story of Rosa Parks–this hero of a woman — who, back in the day of such strong racial prejudice and abuse, stood her ground and refused to go to the back of the bus for the sake of a white passenger whom the bus driver deemed more worthy of a seat at the front of the bus. Her courage made history for African-American people everywhere that day and I am still so proud of this woman’s courage in the face of such opposition but the thought occurred to me…
What if someone who was sitting in the place of “privilege” at the front of the bus had “chosen” to give up their “position” and go to the back of the bus, making it possible for someone under-privileged , mistreated and devalued the opportunity to move to the front ?
Then a flood of other thoughts from my favorite Book came to mind…
“For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, so that you through His poverty might become rich.”
More words like…
“Freely you have received, freely give”
Sitting down, Jesus called the Twelve and said, “Anyone who wants to be first must be the very last, and the servant of all.” Mark 9:35 (NIV)
It seems that whole “least is greatest” and “the first shall be last” is more like a revolving door to me.
There was a theme here that was becoming imprinted deeper and deeper on my heart. I’ve been given so much in the way of material blessings, spiritual blessings, family and friends who love me deeply and on and on. (Reminds me of another truth…“to whom much is given , much is required”. ) What if I make choices every day to “move to the back of the bus” in a sense, so that others who are under-resourced, poor, demeaned, de-valued, abandoned and alone might have the opportunity to “move to the front of the bus” ? You know– take the lower spot so others can rise to the top kind of thing. Funny thing is, it doesn’t have to be a measured distance or amount– it’s just that….
if the...” willingness is there, the gift is acceptable according to what one has, not according to what one does not have.
Our desire is not that others might be relieved while you are hard pressed, but that there might be equality. At the present time your plenty will supply what they need, so that in turn their plenty will supply what you need. The goal is equality, as it is written: “The one who gathered much did not have too much, and the one who gathered little did not have too little.”
2 Corinthians 8:12-15 (NIV)
Amounts are never the issue…it’s willingness of heart. Doing something rather than nothing at all seems to matter.
I’m not exactly sure how this might look on a daily basis for each of us. It’s not any amount or action dictated by others necessarily. That’s the beauty … and the pain of it all… it’s a decision I have to make in my heart . It’s sometimes easier if someone just tells me what to do, I respond in some safe fashion, and then I feel all warm and fuzzy inside — my “generosity” box checked for the day, week or even year ! But when I’ve got to look into my own heart and see some areas I could make a difference — make different choices about purchases , positions, etc. — that takes some soul-searching and who wants to go there on a regular basis 🙂 .
Not surprising, giving of our possessions seems easier — more tangible — giving of our position — much harder.
These are questions I would never in a million years try to answer for you …just ask you to re-think the obvious “climbing the ladder” scenario of our culture. We might have to step on pride and security and safety and significance and comfort — OUCH !
Maybe it will mean moving to a different state …or a different kind of neighborhood–choosing to be okay with a not-so-great school system …taking a position at work with less hours or less pay so more hours can be spent helping others …hiring someone who desperately needs some income instead of hiring that highly acclaimed professional. That paint job might not look quite as good on your door as you had hoped, but the confidence it painted on them will look Designer – phenomenal !
And what about letting someone else take the lead on something when you
know think you could do a much better job. After all, allowing others to grow in their gifts can be risky and messy and sometimes you feel it’s just easier to do it yourself and save the time and hassle of it all !
I guess it’s the whole attitude I want to have more of … taking the bottom rung so others can move to the top for a change — encouraging others to move forward and experience their dreams even if I have to switch positions or hold my current place in line for a bit longer. After all, haven’t I been at the front of the bus long enough?? and isn’t moving back really moving forward in God’s kingdom thinking ? Wasn’t it Jesus Himself who moved to the back of the universe , planet Earth, so we could move up with Him to His kingdom and share in all the royal family benefits !? Now there’s a great Model to look at …
“Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, Who for the joy set before Him endured the cross …”
(Hebrews 12:2, NIV)
For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich.
What might your “back of the bus” decision look like this week? I’d LOVE to hear your life-giving choices . Who knows?… maybe we’ll make a difference — one back seat at a time.
So go ahead — go to that vulnerable place in your soul and soak in the words of this song — asking God where He might have you “sit” today.
http://www.godtube.com/watch/?v=912BMCNU# (Matthew West – (“My Own Little World”)