I have always been extremely sensitive to those less fortunate than me. I think this started when my family took me to see our relatives in India when I was ten. On this trip, my eyes were painfully opened to so many living in abject poverty in that low-income country. I remember seeing homeless children wearing torn, dirty rags as their clothing coming up to our car asking for money or food. And I remember a street kid who was probably no older than eight and who didn’t have any legs who moved around a makeshift skateboard with his hands. All of this broke my heart and left a lasting impression that to this day compels me to make a difference when it is in my power to do so.
I also remember on this trip that my family had a servant boy who was probably my age at the time. He cooked and cleaned and slept on the tile floor with a hard pillow. That also broke my heart, and I remember whenever I had a piece of chocolate or any other treat, I would make sure he got one too. I hated that this was his job, and that he couldn’t go to school or have the freedom to do whatever he wanted – like every other ten-year-old kid I knew. I later learned about India’s caste system that ranks people in a social hierarchy based on their work and their birth, and am thankful that its influence is weakening over time. And I am happy to say that on our most recent trip to India in 2017, I found out that he is no longer serving anyone but has his own family, property, and work that he has chosen.
I also remember on this trip that my family had a servant boy who was probably my age at the time. He cooked and cleaned and slept on the tile floor with a hard pillow. That also broke my heart, and I remember whenever I had a piece of chocolate or any other treat, I would make sure he got one too.
When I was single, I would go on a lot of missions trips, and they would actually involve physical hardship, and a significant financial cost, and a lot of hard work. But I loved them because when you pour yourself out like that, you experience God in the most uniquely powerful ways. I do hope to take my kiddos on many missions trips as they go up, so they can grow in empathy, gratitude, humility, and a heart of service. But for now, they are really young, and we are just surviving these toddler years with little sleep and a lot of constant noise and neediness. And that’s okay, I wouldn’t trade it for anything.
And so right now, we’re just giving away money. And it feels so weak, so pedestrian. And it reminds me of a story about King David which you may know. Back in the day, he made a major mistake in counting the numbers of men in his army. This was probably because it filled him with pride and confidence that he’d win a war. God was not happy, because He wanted David to trust in Him alone, and not in the vastness of his army. And so He told David told him to go to a specific piece of land to atone for one of his major mistakes of pride. When he arrived at the spot, the owner of the land bowed before His majesty and offered to give the king the land and anything else he might need. However, David was adamant that he needed to pay the owner for the land, saying “I’m not going to offer my God sacrifices that are no sacrifice” (2 Samuel 24:24).
This hits me hard. I always want to show God that I am “all in.” That’s important to me and, I believe, important to Him. As I grow older, I want to make sure that my heart becoming more and more generous, instead of trending in the opposite direction. Giving away money feels so…lazy. So weak. I feel like it costs me nothing (so to speak). It’s just writing a check, or moving money electronically, or handing over some bills. And recently I’ve been praying that He will just show me something huge He wants me to do. Something massive, something that takes all of me, that empties me out. To make a real difference in some corner of the world.
Recently I’ve been praying that He will just show me something huge He wants me to do. Something massive, something that takes all of me, that empties me out. To make a real difference in some corner of the world.
Maybe I shouldn’t yearn for some sort of epic service project, and perhaps when God reveals it to me, I am going to be like, “Oh crap…no no no…that’s too big…that’s going to stretch me too much.” But I believe I will be willing. I like that this is what I am hoping for, because it shows me that I’m thinking much less about my own future (and my family’s future) and much more about making an eternal impact and improving the lives of those who cannot do a thing for me. This, of course, demands that I become so much more dependent on God to fill in the gaps. But that is exactly where I need – and want – to be.
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