*I have been struggling with this post for a while. Going back and forth on sharing, not sharing and how it might be perceived. But I am feeling 100% confident this morning that this is good news and my heart is in the right place.
If you know me, you know that I have the strongest desire to meet peoples basic needs where hunger is involved. I could say I have a spot in my heart but that would be small minded thinking and I just don't think that way anymore. My whole existence has become based on needing spiritual food, finding that, receiving that and wanting everyone around me to be filled with it. I myself have not been in a spot where physical hunger was an issue. In fact, I have battled my own addiction to food for many years now and am receiving much healing and power in that area of my life. A while back I wrote a page for my art website and quickly took it down for fear that it sounded like I was looking for people to buy my art so that I could give to the poor, in turn people might think that it was a ploy to sell my art. I took it down because I didn't want anyone to think that, it is so far from the truth I don't even know how to defend that. But God has given me this desire to show Jesus as a man who feels deep concern for the hungry, whether spiritual or physical, and is waiting for all those who call him King to reach out and make much of his life, and death.
Here is the story
Two years ago I was laying in a bed with my daughter in Toronto, Canada. It was Christmas time and we were visiting my father for the holiday. I was pregnant with our daughter Lucy and my husband was serving in the war in Afghanistan. Two days into our trip our daughter Grace had gotten sick and we had to take her to the ER. She had a virus which left her listless, coughing and with fevers, she could barely breathe. I found myself so alone and scared. I stayed up with her all night, watching her struggle to breathe. I held her in the bath tub. We took hot showers to help her breathe and I just wept. I was crying out to Jesus to heal her. There was nothing I could do for her, except pray. I found myself reaching out to everyone I knew to pray...
For some reason the tv upstairs in the room we were in only got a few channels, one of them happened to be "the church channel". And as I lay there one night praying over Grace, James and Betty Robison were on with their Life Outreach International...Mission Feeding show. God had carved a special spot into my heart at an early age for people who are hungry and in need, so this caught my attention. And this is what God said to me that night...
Melissa, my child, don't you know that I am already healing Grace? I hear your prayers... and I am meeting your needs. I have brought you here, to this place of feeling so helpless and scared so that you may understand what I am asking you to do. I need you to pray for all of my other children who are in need. All of the children who don't know me, and are hungry. I needed you to understand what it felt like to not know how to meet your child's needs...I needed you to understand that there are millions of mothers who cry out to me every night in desperation because their children are on the verge of death...because they are hungry.Everything I have let you see in this life, everything I have allowed you to go through, is for your good. It is for me. Just as you lift up your child to me tonight, so many others do, and they don't have the resources you do. Wont you help me? Wont you lay down all your fears and just allow me to work through you? Help me tonight, my child.
So what did I do? I gave 100 bucks. I didn't tell my husband, I lived in fear that he wouldn't understand that God asked me to do this. I just knew he would think I was crazy. Grace got better and we went home,just in time for Christmas. The day we got home, I went to get the crazy amount of mail that had stacked up. I opened a card that caught my eye, and it was from my mother in law. And in the card was a check. For 100 bucks.
It was then that I truly understood what God was asking me to do.
Lay down my fear, trust and follow Him.
So here I am a few years later, still in the same economic status, still on a military salary...still full of hope that someday I will be able to just do something. So about 6 months ago I decided to start painting as a way to make money for my family, to help provide. I believe so deeply in our service to the military that I have never once felt ungrateful for the salary we have. I feel so blessed to have health care and benefits in case my husband is called to lay down his life...but the fact is, we don't have alot of money. I say that very lightly and carefully because we are so wealthy compared to other cultures. Just the fact that we have electricity and running water sometimes brings me to tears. And I also have been known to cry over full baskets of groceries...
Speaking of groceries...
So I have been praying hard. Praying that God would just show us something, anything really where money is concerned. A very good friend of mine, who has the biggest heart for the Lord, once revealed to me that I along with many others have a "poverty mindset". What does that mean?
I don't give what I have because I think its all I am ever going to get.
What does that really mean? Well, to me it means that every time our paycheck comes in or an unexpected bill or disaster like our recent air conditioner incident happens, I get all human and icky and hoardy. Is that a word? You know what I mean.I just obsess and cling onto every dollar we have trying to save, never saving, try to figure out the answers, and that never happens either. I am always in constant battle with my human small mind and Gods big bold plan for our hearts, our finances, our lives... I question always why some people are so wealthy and they have no heart to give. Most days I feel my heart does not match up with my faith. And I am slowly learning that we must use the faith that we have so much to the point of being left alone on that very narrow road, and just stare at Jesus. Just stare at him with both eyes, and our hearts. Claim that there is no fear in faith and that the measure we give is the measure we are to receive. Not out of obligation, but out of joy. Not because we have to or we might be called to but because we desire to reach a place where God knows no limits with us. He is able to freely give to the point of overflowing because he trusts his people to never question what he asks of us.
This is just what he is speaking to me.
So lately I have been praying some pretty bold prayers that maybe might not make sense to you. And this is why I was hesitant to share. Because I pray that he just shows me. That he just tears down the walls of fear so that I know when I give I know my needs are met. I'm not talking about giving like a few dollars here and there...I want to be able to answer the call when I see a young mother struggling with her kids at the grocery store, looking like she has been through a rough few years and might be faced with the choice of food or gas that month. I want to be able to just freely swipe my card and bless her. Because Jesus asked that of me. And I want to do that with 100 % confidence that I am also being delivered from my own financial mess. I just don't want to be scared anymore.
So I decided that since my heart is on people and hunger I would just jump out in faith and start small. At our local grocery store we have a way to give every time we pay. They have these little tear off sheets at the register.
And every time I go, no matter what I have decided to tear off that five dollar sheet. Actually I didn't decide that, that's what God told me to do. If I go for the week, or if I go for some milk. Five bucks. If I have 2,000 dollars in our bank account of if I have 30. And every time I feel like I am crying out to God. I have become less hesitant, less shaky, more confident in Him, less confident in me. More aware of a heart full of pride. More aware of the way I hang onto things and don't look to the eternal. More aware of the way I stockpile Jesus in my heart for my own problems and struggle to get out and just admit, I cant do this on my own. I cant fix our air conditioner, I cant afford to pay our electric bill this month. I cant...I cant... I cant!
But he can.
So one particular day, I had a grocery bill that was about 53 bucks. I filled with more pride and thought, oh well I could give 1 buck today and that would still keep me under 55. Because I don't think I had much more than that in our account. There were people behind me, I could feel myself starting to get anxious, but I stayed in conversation with God the whole time. Well pretty much just prayed for me to be able to do it. Just tear it off. Just give it to her he kept saying...
Just trust me.
So I did. And then I made it about halfway to my car when I pulled out my phone and I had a message. I had an email. It was from the wine bar. My art is at the wine bar. I have alot of art there and nothing has ever sold there, so it was weird to be hearing from them.
It's Carl from Riverside Wine Bar. You have sold a small Cubs painting for $60 and I have your payment for pick up. Please let me know how you would like me to give it to you.
My receipt is dated June 26 at 6:19 pm. It was for 60.63
This email is dated June 26 at 6:31 pm. I had sold a painting for 60.
An divine exchange.
This is not a post about testing God. It is not a post about money. But it is a post about crying out to God to deliver me from my own selfish ambition and pride and replace it with open hands. Give my open heart a measure of faith so I can begin to open my hands more. Help me to stretch out my faith and do what I fear the most in my walk with giving. I sit here right now facing many financial hurdles. And again, I say that very lightly because I am drinking a diet dr pepper typing on my computer sitting in 72 degrees. Sometimes I just want to cry. I just want to cry about how much I do have. And those mothers, and their children. I just cant bear it anymore. I cant bear looking into my own children's eyes and see health and vitality and know that some mothers look into their own children's eyes and see sickness and poverty. I cant save all those kids.
But I can start somewhere.
With what I have right now.
What God has been showing me lately is that I don't need a million dollars to start giving. I don't need to wait until my bank account is full to give. I don't need to wait until my air conditioner is fixed to be able to give 5 dollars at the grocery store.
Because whatever is in our bank account, is his. And if he can create the stars and the planets, if he can build and move mountains, if he can send his own son to die for my own selfish pride, I can surely put my bank account in his hands and trust him to provide.
And if I can trust him to always provide, no matter what the economy looks like, no matter what challenges come my way, then I can surely give with an open heart, and open hands, with a smile on my face and overflowing joy in my heart that I have the healer, the hope, the savior walking right beside me.
I never want to walk alone again. I never want to have my heart so full of pride that I believe the lie that I am in charge of my own finances. I pave my ways...I create or seize opportunities. And I never want to believe the lie again that giving is only for those that have money. I want BIG faith. Because I serve a BIG God. I have tasted Gods love and his faithfulness and it tastes sweeter than anything I ever thought possible.