Right now I am sitting in a hotel room in Oklahoma that has been paid for by the church we were in last night. Earlier this morning I watched my little boy take his first steps wearing a pair of shoes given to him by one of the churches we were in a few months ago. As I look around this room I can see several more things either given to us by churches that we have been in, or paid for by money given to us by those churches.
This morning I am feeling very humbled.
I am a very spoiled girl. Before we were in full time ministry, my husband had a high paying job for his age. From the time we got married I have had everything I could ever even think of wanting. I actually had to be very careful not to let my husband even know that I liked something because if he found out, then he would find a way to make it mine.
When we began deputation, I never really worried about the financial challenges to come, because in my married life I had never had to worry about money. When we started deputation, my husband quit his job and we no longer had an income coming in. For the first few months we lived off of love offerings from the churches we would go to to present our ministry. I remember feeling so unworthy of the gifts given to us in those first few meetings.
In those early months of deputation my faith began to be tried for the first time in my life. There were months that we barely had enough to pay our expenses. I can remember driving home after a three week trip in those early days, knowing that we had no groceries at the house. I asked Chris if we could stop at the store on the way home, and he informed me that we didn’t have the money to do so. We prayed in the car that night that the Lord would provide what we needed. When we arrived home and started to sort through our mail we found two checks from members of two different churches we had been to. These people did not know of our need. They were simply obedient to the Lord’s leading and were used by Him to build our faith and meet a need.
Since those first few meeting we have been so blessed by God through His people. Time and time again we are given gifts that make it possible for us to travel to our meetings and get us closer to getting to the United Kingdom. Once again I am a very spoiled girl. I have so much. It is easy for me to forget about the individuals who give and the great responsibility this privilege carries for me. I realize more than ever that I was never intended to be a storehouse of blessings, but rather a conduit through which blessings can flow. As God gives to me through His servants, it is my responsibility to give myself, my time, my husband, my children, and my resources to the Lord and to others.
I was reminded this week of how amazing the people we have met are. They give money and gifts to complete strangers all for the cause of spreading the name of Jesus around this world. They give in faith that we will be submitted to God and will obey what He has called us to do. They give in faith that we will be good stewards of their gifts.
I recently found out that one of our supporting churches gave us a financial gift that was the income the ladies in the church made from selling their homemade desserts. These ladies labored for days baking, packaging, and selling these treats. Not for themselves, but to be used of God. I thought this kind of labor of love illustrates beautifully the kind of sacrifice Paul was talking about in II Corinthians 8:5
“And this they did, not as we hoped, but first gave their own selves to the Lord, and unto us by the will of God.”
Am I giving myself? Or am I selfish?
As I sit here this morning, knowing my failures and shortcomings, I feel unworthy. I am very challenged to be a better steward of what we have been given. I am challenged to work harder than ever to get the name of Jesus around the world. As we are so excited to get to the United Kingdom, I feel I must do more! I am challenged by the way that the thousands of people that have invested in us on deputation have “first given their own selves to the Lord, and unto us by the will of God.” I realize that as I make choices in my daily life to either please the Lord or to please myself, I must remember all of those who are backing us, believing we will make the right decisions. I am so thankful to have such an amazing team of support and encouragement.