Sometimes when God has something he wants to tell me he doesn’t use that “still small voice” we always hear about at church. He yells it. He puts it in my face so many times, in so many different ways, that I can’t ignore him. And I’m grateful, because I’m not a good listener. But since he’s my father, and he knows this about me, he’s willing to yell sometimes. Usually to the point where I tell him to, “Leave me alone!” But I don’t mean it. I don’t really want him to back off. Because as long as he’s talking to me (and I’m willing to listen) he’s changing me. And I don’t want him to stop.
The other night Anderson and I were having a talk about faith and some specific things God is speaking to us about. Of course we started the conversation as we were going to bed, and it went on forever. But I was too excited to care about the alarm clock the next morning, because it’s fun to hear if God is talking to us about the same things. Sometimes he is; sometimes it’s completely different stuff. I told him that God has been all up in my face recently about giving. It started last year and hasn’t let up a bit. Then a few weeks ago I read this and had one of those “UGH! LEAVE ME ALONE!” moments:
Command those who are rich in this present world… to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share.
1 Timothy 6:17-18
I’ve read this before but never thought much about it, because it speaks to rich people. And I don’t look in the mirror and see a rich person. But I am. My family is rich. We live in a house that we own with more rooms than we need, we go out to dinner whenever we feel like it, we have two cars in the garage, we stand in line to order $5.00 coffee at Starbucks while playing on our iPhones. We’re totally rich. And those verses are speaking directly to us. To me.
I’ve always liked giving. But I thought the point was that God needed me to give. I was giving out of a sense of duty. I was filling a need. And it felt good. But the thing is, God doesn’t need my money or my acts of kindness, or my service. Giving is not about me filling a need. If I don’t do it, he’ll just use someone else. It’s about him teaching me to be a more generous person. It’s about him changing me.
That realization slapped me in the face for the first time a few months ago. Anderson and I were leaving dinner (DATE NIGHT!) and as I was getting into the car a woman appeared out of nowhere and asked me if we could help her get some diapers. She was a hot mess – pregnant and pushing a baby in a stroller. And her story was that her baby had been wearing the same diaper all day, and she didn’t have any more. She said, “I saw your car seat in the back of your car and knew you’d understand.” She had totally been waiting for us to come out. And there was a time when that would have made me mad. But as I looked at her God said, “Give her diapers.” I knew she might be lying. There’s actually a good chance she was, but it didn’t matter. We can afford to give her diapers. And God clearly told us to. In that moment I was just supposed to obey. So I told her to meet me back there in a few minutes. As we were going to the closest (totally inconvenient) grocery store we talked about how she could (and just might) return them for a credit and buy something else. But for the first time ever I just didn’t care. God showed me that I’m rich, WE ARE RICH and I’m just supposed to give whenever he tells me to. It doesn’t really matter what happens after that. I’m just responsible for listening and obeying. That night changed me.
When I went back to give her the diapers we talked for awhile. I asked her if anyone had ever told her about how much Jesus loves her. And she went into what seemed like a perfectly scripted response. This wasn’t her first time in this situation. But it didn’t matter. I’m just supposed to give. Then I asked her if she and her baby had a place to stay and she told me a completely ridiculous story. She obviously wasn’t going to tell a stranger her real living situation. She was probably scared her baby would be taken away. But I didn’t call her out. I just listened. It didn’t matter if she was lying. I’m just supposed to give. I told her about some loving churches in the area where she could get help, that Jesus loves her, and that it wasn’t an accident that we were the people in the car she was watching that night. Then I prayed for her and her babies and left. I have no idea what happened to her, but I haven’t been able to get her out of my mind. I’m thankful for her. For that night. And for God’s willingness to keep yelling at me.