He’s got long hair, a longish beard, and is wearing not only sandals, but this old robe that looks like it might have come from a monastery or something. It’s got a couple of holes in it and the hem is frayed.
I smile at him, a little nervous, and run through a quick calculation of what is in my wallet, how much I really need today, and come up with a sum that is generous in my circumstances.
“Excuse me, sir...” he begins. (At least he’s polite.)
“...I haven’t any money for something to eat. Can you spare a few?”
“Sure,” I say, and reach for the wallet in my front pocket (I keep it there ever since I had my wallet stolen when I was 16).
I hand him $6.
He looks at me with sharp, clear, brown eyes, piercing eyes.
“This isn’t enough.”
I’m more than a little surprised. It’s more than I usually spend on my own lunches, and it is pretty nervy of him to ask for more when most folks would have pulled out the change in their pockets and left him looking at 62 cents in his palm.
A little offended, I ask him how much he needs.
“All of it.”
I look beyond him to see if there is a cop or someone of authority in sight.
“I want it all.”
For a moment I think about it. Maybe I could skip my own lunch. He probably needs it more than I do. This almost seems like some kind of test, so I pause, I consider. I reach into my wallet for the last $3.
“That’s not enough,” he says.
Now I am getting a little uncomfortable, and maybe a touch more than a little testy. I size him up. He’s about three inches shorter than I am, but he looks wiry, strong.
“Just what is it you want from me?”
“I want it all. I want your wallet, and your car keys....
“I want your pin number for the ATM...
“I want your house and your job, and your kids, and everything.
“I want your life.”
We had a meeting at our church and we voted to build a new and better church out of the ashes left from the night my son played with fire.
It is going to cost an additional $800,000 over the insurance settlement.
During the meeting there was a lot of discussion about how we can come up with that money. It was decided we would ask ourselves to pay for it out of our own pockets, without a loan. Sacrificial giving.
There was a suggestion that we learn what churches in surrounding communities charge for folks to rent facilities similar to the one we are going to build, you know, for weddings and such.
I loved the response from our elders and pastors.
This building is on us. We will pay for it, somehow, and it will be an asset to our community. The use of the facilities will be free.
Church is supposed to be a place where the world is welcomed into our lives. A church building is the foyer to God’s kingdom. It isn’t a business.
I’m not sure how two or three hundred people are going to raise that kind of money, but the fact that it is challenging gives us the opportunity for Him to work through us.
I’m giving everything I have to the man with the long hair and sandals.