Friday, February 17, 2006

"Give me Your Money"

I’m walking in downtown Portland and this homeless guy stops me on the sidewalk. They call it aggressive panhandling. He obviously doesn’t have anything beyond a bundle of stuff that is lying beside the road. A bunch of his buddies are leaning against a building.

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.”

(WHAT?!!!)

I look beyond him to see if there is a cop or someone of authority in sight.

“Pardon me?”

“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.

“No.”

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.




34 comments:

David said...

Excellent, excellent point - made me remember we had to "rent" the church where our oldest daughter was married. You are right - churches should be open to the people of the community.

bornfool said...

As always, CS, that was brilliant. I'm ashamed that it took a few seconds for it to click.

curious servant said...

Don't be ashamed.

I deliberately tricked you. If you had gotten the idea from the start I would have been doing a poor job in storytelling.

I had to provide the clues in such a way as to stay honest, but couch it in terms that would make you think about something else. Glad it worked.

That's the challenge, though... to be honest with ourselves and our Lord.

It is easy to give everything to the Jesus who is floating in the sky all glowing with a chorus of angels singing His praises.

It is another to think of Him as grasping your lapels on a street corner, in your daily life, and getting in your face about the priorities in your life.

Coco said...

to give of onself to others and to God...
thank you for reminding me.

some days are more difficult than others-
but we are never alone...
God and our community help us through these difficult times making the burden "lighter".

have a WONDERFUL weekend!

Joyce said...

As usual when I come here to read I find my heart aching for you, but also in awe at how willing you are to share with us--and amazed at how you continue to stand in the midst of all of this and cling to His hand. And as always I am encouraged to try to be a better me for Him.

May God continue to grant you His richest blessings--for He is indeed blessing you.

Lucy Stern said...

OK, if you have 300 members of your church and you need an additional $ 800,000. that comes to about $ 2,666.00 per person. Can each and every person in your church come up with that kind of money? That's going to be a big stretch for some families. Is your church family growing? Do you really need a bigger building? These are all questions that need to be answered, among others. I hope ya'll can pull it off. It's going to to take a lot of faith and work....Good luck with the project...

I suppose your story is a bit of a good sameritan story. Are we willing to give our all?

Live, Love, Laugh said...

I am praying all the funds will come in quickly on the church building.

Good story about the homeless man? Did you give him everything?

Judas Hate said...

Not quite sure. I lost all my taste buds in a belt sander incident:-)

Ryan said...

Great story telling! Great way to show that Jesus wants more than our money. Going to be meditating on this one for a bit.

Vicki said...

It took me a minute to absorb what you were saying in the first story at first...I want to be willing to give all.

Praying for you,
V.

Judas Hate said...

Now you tell me.

Where was this advice when my left ear lobe, two center front teeth, right eye, left pinky finger and right big toe were still intact? Not to mention I now sing an octave higher:-)


I love your writting! I only wish this were creative musings instead of painful, difficult reality. Without the benefit of being able to touch, see, know you in person, I can say with confidence; You are a good, honest, loving, righteous man. You truly are the Lords servant. You shall prevail. If YOU don't, I fear MY faith will be hammered.

Tonight I shall think of you and your family and pray and ask.

Aside from that, as soon as we win the lottery, I will hop in a chopper and make a bee-line for you. We will spend the day eating, drinking and being merry, for the next day we shall fix all that money can.

I can dream can't I?

I wish the lottery thing would unfold if only so I could ease that worry for you. Until I match those numbers, I can only offer my prayers and ears.

Stay strong my friend and be well.

Call on me anytime for the little I may do for you.

J.

Paul said...

Hi Curious Servant,

I too, want to be able to give everything to the Lord!

The last three years of my life have been the hardest, but yet at the same time the best years of my life.

That through it all, the chemo, the radiation, the surgeries and the divorce after 29 years, not by choice, rather than pushing me away, push me into the arms of the Lord.

To a place of realizing, that only as I gave Him all, would I ever truly be free, to be what He wanted me to be.

Out of the ashes, life sprang forth. The Father, in all of this carried me through and has brought me to the place where I am now in my walk and relationship with Him.

Thank you my friend for sharing from the heart, for being open. You will be in my prayers.

Your friend and fellowservant,

Paul

Sally W said...

If the universe did start with a bang - when God loved and the angels sang - one of the sparks that flew - chased time to become you :) xaNax

Fox's Mom said...

CS, you have such good timing-thank-you.

curious servant said...

Thank you, all of you.

Say... A word about spambots. I do not use the word verification as I think it makes it a touch difficult for folks to comment, but that means I need to clean up after the little software critters leave their messes behind.

I wanted to point out an uusual one. The "Sally W" comment aboove is one. Very creative.

I think I'll leave it there for a little while.

----------


A word about us...

Jeremiah is ill today. He is running a little fever.

Earlier today I changed the tv channel from some silly show entitled "Twitches" (about twin witches). I explained to him that I don't care for that sort of thing, especially in light of the sorts of things that happened to him in Haiti.

I believe voodoo was a very real part of his early life.

Within an hour of our talk he got the worst bloody nose I have ever seen. It ruined six towels! It was coming from his nose and mouth.

It felt almost as if there was an evilness about it.

I have prayed for him, and got some others to pray as well. He seems a little better.

I was concerned enough I suggested the emergency room to Brenda.

I'll keep an eye on him through the night. A prayer for him would be welcome.

Felisol said...

Dear Curious Servant. Your kind comment has given me courage to not only read, but go on writing to you.
I cannot say I am giving all my goods or time to Christ.
On the contrary, I know for certain I'm not doing that.
I am raised by parents belonging to the Pentecostal Church. To them it was obvious to give ten per cent of their income to God. There was never any debate on that issue. We have tried to practise that in my generation too. My husband and my daughter are members of the Norwegian Lutheran Church, but I guess I belong everywhere the Gospel is preached.
What I suggest is that maybe you could set up a link to your church, so that those of us who feel like it can contribute with what we find to be possible and "thus share each others burdens."
I do not mean to be a busybody, but I am afraid you may find me so anyway...I certainly will not intrude neither on you nor on your congregation. It is just, from the selfish point of view, it would bring some ease to me, if I was allowed, in a small way with only small means, to help rebuilding your church.

Just like when I keep sending these words from the Bible, I hope they, even how familiar they are, might bring monments of relief or even a smile on your face.

We will continue to pray for you and your family. As for Jeremiah, poor boy, the promises and power of God are there for him as well. Jesus has besieged all evil on the cross,and we are requested to remind the Lord of his promises.

Romans 8:35-39: "Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will hardship, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? 36As it is written,
‘For your sake we are being killed all day long;
we are accounted as sheep to be slaughtered.’
37No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, 39nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Jesus Christ, our Lord."

I fear the evil. It is spread continously through television and data games. But I cling to God's promises; he is stronger and reaches deaper than any other force.
Ps. I'll ask my husband for help to fix the blog problem you mentioned. I certainly will welcome you to my sites. Some of them are in Norwegian, but I also write some in a horribly broken English.

curious servant said...

I'm an English teacher, and I do not mind the small errors that appear in your comments. In fact, Itreasure them. It makes you feel like a real person, a warm person with an accent I can almost hear.

As to your suggestion, I am so surprised I don't know what to say. I have sent an email to my pastor to have him read your comment.

I need to think and pray about this. The idea is certainly bigger than me.

Anonymous said...

Praying your your son will be better soon :)
take care
God bless
janice

Seeker said...

I can hear your answer to the long-haired man, "MY life? You can HAVE it!"

FTS said...

I'm certain you all will be led in the right direction.

Joe said...

The story was astonishing and well done.

I loved the "No"

Lillee said...

Wow. What a powerful post.
Our church is striving to pay off it's $400,000 debt off by the end of the year. With a congregation of around 350, that's alot, especially when that is an amount asked for along with regular tithes.
Today, we passed a Mennonite lady taking a late Sunday lunch to an ederly neighbor.
How many of us give what we can and how many of us look for ways to give more without excuse?
Great post.

Joyce said...

I hope Jeremiah is doing better. That's very scary. I stronly believe that evil is lurking about us. I will be praying for Jeremiah and for the rest of you as well.

I loved what Felise mentioned above about a link. I also would love to share in the rebuilding of the church (and of your lives) in some small way.

Blessings to you, my friend.

Joash Chan said...

Your post has touched my heart and encouraged me, deeper than you'll know. I am amazed again by how God can use a story to speak to my life and meet my need.

Pia said...

this is the second time today that i read about giving your all. i think God is telling me something. He wants my all. not just some of it but all. thank you for posting this.

God bless.

Jim said...

Well done. I had to think about it, even after all the comments that were made.
I think it is Jesus. He wants our all. I suppose if the man was naked or sick or in prison it would be easier to figure out.
Matthew 25:36 'I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.'
Again, Matthew 25:44 "Then they also will answer Him, saying, 'Lord, when did we see You hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to You?'
and v. 45 "Then He will answer them, saying, 'Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.'
Matthew 10:38 "And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me.
39 "He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it.

..

Beeba said...

Thanks for coming by!!! I enjoyed your site!!! I will be back. Look forward to getting to know you!!!

Pirate said...

I was once mugged in Salt Lake City of all places. down in their luck mormons can be as wanting as anyone else i suppose.

Leyt's do the lunch thing soon my friend.

Julana said...

I do hope your church is able to come up with that money, somehow. That's quite a step of faith.

curious servant said...

I'm exhausted. Should have written a post yesterday...

Jeremiah's illness has been awful... We took him to the emergency room last night.

So much blood.

He's asleep on the couch, moaning.

Poor little guy.

Brenda's sleeping also.

Maybe I should...

Pirate said...

my weekends are pretty full for awhile so let's look at Spring break.

wilsonian said...

Once again, I'm left with a very full heart, and very few words.

Am praying for your family...

hazelorbs said...

my prayers are with your family and Jeremiah...also with your church.

your post really made me think...do i give my all to Him who has given so much to me? sometimes...other times, i cling so tightly to all i have, i forget to let go and let God.

thank you for checking in on me...it's nice to know you're missed.

Anonymous said...

Where did you find it? Interesting read » »