I know that the title of this post is a bit off. Any resources we may claim as our own came from God in the first place. (At least that’s what I believe.) We tend to think of our belongings as being our personal property though, don’t we? I talk about my car, my house, my clothing, my computer, my furniture, my food, etc. Apparently I have the mindset that because God has seen fit to allow me to have these possessions, they are now mine and I can do with them as I please. I know that this isn’t a biblical way to look at our belongings, but it is common practice even among many Christians.
The reason I bring this up is because I believe God put my husband and I to the test on this issue recently. At the beginning of this month I got to go to a youth conference with our combined youth group, in the role of chaperone. Because we have a large passenger van, I volunteered to drive as well. A short time before the conference, I thought it would be a good idea to take the van in to the shop and see if anything needed servicing. A broken down van on a youth trip is a logistical nightmare I’d rather avoid. 😉
It turned out to be a good thing that I took the van in. It needed several of the fuel injector valves replaced, along with a few other smaller fixes. Because of how the engine is situated in the van, it is rather a tedious job to lower it down to where the technicians can work on it. The job required 9 hours of labor, so it was recommended that we replace all of the valves at once. Otherwise, if another one went out in a short while, we would be paying for another 9 hours of labor. No thank you! Well, when all was said and done our bill was just shy of $5,000. Let me tell you that I had no idea when I made that appointment that we would be spending $5,000 so that I could chaperone some teens at a youth conference. Heck, that was $5,000 before we had even left town! I quipped to one mom that it was the most expensive trip I had been on, and I hadn’t even left town yet. We laughed, but it was true.
At one point in the process of hearing what it was going to cost to get the van fixed, the idea flitted through my head of saying I couldn’t go. I don’t think anyone would have grudged me staying home if they knew the circumstances. I could have easily said that it was more than we could afford, because in reality it was. We live paycheck to paycheck, and we don’t have that kind of money sitting around in our bank account. That’s just the reality of our finances.
I decided though, that it was important to go with these teens, especially since I was the only female chaperone and the girls wouldn’t be able to go otherwise. So, feeling a bit nervous about the finances, I went to the conference with the teens. We had a great time, came home, and I thought that we would just have to use our tax return to pay off the repairs. I felt like God was testing me in whether or not I believed enough in ministering to these teens that I’d be willing to invest my own finances in it. Yes, it’s worth it to me.
In a couple of conversations with friends, I had brought up the fact that we had gotten the van serviced before the trip and what it cost. I was not asking for money, nor did I expect it from anyone. I was content with the decision to foot the bill ourselves and count it as an investment in the teens. Little did I know that God had other plans.
I got a call from a friend at our church, asking if she could come over Tuesday evening because she had something to drop off. I said sure, we’d be home. Well, she showed up that Tuesday with a container of Blondies and an envelope in her hand. I didn’t notice the envelope at first. When she handed over the Blondies, I asked her if she had a hug to give me. (She’s a person who isn’t very touchy-feely, but occasionally she can be prevailed upon to dispense hugs.) No, that wasn’t it. She had come to give us a check. My heart started to flutter a little. First, I didn’t know what to do or say. I wasn’t expecting this. Second, I dislike opening gifts in front of other people. I’m always nervous that my response won’t be exactly what they want to see, and that they’ll feel offended. I asked her if we should open it in front of her or after she left. She said either one would be fine. I chose to wait because I wasn’t sure what we would find in the envelope and I wanted to save her any awkwardness or discomfort.
After she left, my husband and I went into the kitchen to open it and found a check that covered the entire cost of getting the van fixed. You could have knocked me over with a feather! This was completely shocking to us and not at all what we expected. We didn’t know what to do.
After thinking it over a bit, we decided to talk to a couple of people who were a part of the decision-making process for giving us the check. We wanted to understand their motivation and make sure that it wasn’t driven out of guilt or with any kind of unwilling spirit. We wanted to make sure that God really was behind this decision. After talking with a couple of the people, we were satisfied that it was given with the right motivation, and felt okay in accepting the gift. I still can’t say that I’m comfortable with it, though.
It’s so unlike anything we’ve experienced before. It seems almost like it was a test from God regarding our finances and belongings. We were put in the position where we had to decide if we would use our possessions (van) and money (repair cost) for God’s work, even when we thought we had no hope of ever recouping the cost. It wasn’t until after we showed that we were willing, that we were blessed with this gift. I feel like this gift comes with an unspoken message from God: When you are willing to use everything you have for My glory, I will take care of you. Stop worrying and start trusting!
What I thought was a great sacrifice on our part ended up being a moot issue. God showed me that He’s got this. He has every situation in hand and I need to trust Him when He asks me to use the resources at my disposal for His purposes. Since He’s the provider of everything, He can certainly replenish what He has asked us to give up.
I’m so happy to have learned this lesson. It’s a radical one that blows my mind!