I am rich

Poor, Yet Rich

He [Jesus] looked up and saw the rich dropping their offerings into the temple treasury.  He also saw a poor widow dropping in two tiny coins.  “I tell you the truth,” He said.  “This poor widow has put in more than all of them.  For all these people have put in gifts out of their surplus, but she out of her poverty has put in all she had to live on.” Luke 21:1-3 HCSB

I sat in the little African house, sweating.  The rainforest sent bugs through the open windows to crawl on the walls, painted a nauseating shade of hospital green. 

My host arrived, smiling, to get the room ready for the church service.  His home was one of the largest in the village, and so there we gathered.  I was early by African standards, (on time by American), so I was the only one there.

I watched him, puzzled.  He carried several of his wife’s skirts – which were really just lengths of fabric in eye-popping prints.  He pushed a chair up to a wall, stood on it, pulled a roll of duct tape out of his pocket, and taped up the material. He drug the chair around the room to hang all the skirts, sometimes scrunching the fabric into butterfly patterns, sometimes draping it artfully, always securing it with the grey duct tape.

Really?  He thought that made the place look better? I wanted to roll my American eyes.  But what irritated me the most was the duct tape.  This guy didn’t make more than $10 a week, and duct tape cost two or three dollars in the market.  He was wasting his money.

Instantly, the Holy Spirit convicted me, as sharply as He’s ever spoken to my heart.

You are witnessing the widow’s mite, and I am very pleased.

My host was beautifying his home as an act of worship, and quite suddenly, the most stunning of stained glass windows were not as lovely as that duct-taped fabric. Cathedrals have been built by the surplus riches of the elite, but this humble farmer outdid them all.

I may have more in my bank account than that man will ever see, but that day, he gathered riches in heaven untold.

I am rich

I am Rich: A Joint Post

For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ; although He was rich, for your sake He became poor, so that by His poverty you might become rich. 2 Cor. 8:9

From Susan

I’ve seen the outside of Buckingham Palace.  It’s dazzling. If the seat of such an earthly kingdom is so opulent, imagine the throne room of Heaven. That’s where Jesus belongs, enthroned above the heavens, rich beyond comprehension.  And yet, he left all that to step into human clothes, to be born in a stable and to walk the dusty roads of Earth without so much as a simple frame house to call his own.

Talk about culture shock. I mean, I thought moving from the United States to a third-world country was difficult.  What about moving from Heaven to Earth? Jesus became poor so that we, too, could enjoy the riches of heaven.   He died a criminal’s death on this sin-wracked planet so that I could become fabulously wealthy, a daughter of the King.

Paul penned these words  in an effort to persuade a wealthy church to share with a financially struggling one.  Why would he find it necessary to remind Christians with money about the poverty Jesus endured for them?

From Jen

Perhaps because earthly wealth is never enough. Never.

I was thinking this over on Sunday morning as I watched the Compassion promo video play. Running through my mind were the receipts of some recent purchases . . .

Clothing at Gordman’s – $82.00 (Like we need them. Our closets are packed.)

Lunch with my sister – $39.00

Easter gifts/shoes for my kids – $137.00

Plants for my gardening addiction – $62.00

Nothing wrong with spending a little. Nothing wrong with stuff, per se. But, although this all makes me look wealthy—which by 99% of the world’s standards, I am—it’s not what makes me rich.

Jesus became poor so that I would have an eternal inheritance. He also said that where ever my treasure is, my heart will be there with it. So, when it comes to opportunities to give, such as supporting a child in poverty for a mere $32.00 a month, I hear Paul reminding me, “Jesus gave everything so that you would be eternally rich. Can you not lay a little down to follow his example?”

What opportunities do you have right now to share your eternal inheritance? Is Jesus asking you to lay something down for someone else?

I am a stranger in this world

Strangers Look Weird

“All these died in faith, without receiving the promises, but having seen them and having welcomed them from a distance, and having confessed that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. For those who say such things make it clear that they are seeking a country of their own. And indeed, if they had been thinking of that country from which they went out, they would have had opportunity to return. But as it is, they desired a better country, that is a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared a city for them” Hebrews 11:13-16 NAS

“Look! It’s a white person!”

I heard it often as I did my shopping in West African markets, sidestepping puddles, bargaining for fabric and shooing flies off the tomatoes I wanted to buy. The cry never failed to bring a crowd. You’d think only kids would do this, but I drew my share of gawking adults, too. “Wow, look … a real, live white person!” the crowd buzzed. Mostly, I ignored it, because it became the norm for me. Sometimes, when I was feeling sassy, I’d let my eyes get as wide as theirs, look over my shoulder and say in their language, “Really? Where? I don’t see her.”

And then, when my husband and I would travel deep into the bush, we’d encounter villagers who had never in their lives seen a Caucasian. Quite frankly, they didn’t know what we were. Little children have burst into tears at the mere sight of me. More than one woman has dropped her basket and run in terror.

There was no doubt in anyone’s mind: I was a stranger in West Africa. My accent was thick, my hair unruly. I couldn’t perform the simplest of feminine chores: winnow rice, chop firewood, pound millet.

And often, when the heat and frustration would roll over me, I’d long to return to the States. That was when God would whisper to my heart, “America is not your home. Heaven is.” Indeed. I was in Africa as a stranger, as an exile, but not of the United States. I was a displaced heavenly citizen. I had a home town alright. It was the city God is preparing for me.

Well, I’m back now. Typing in Texas, I am. And you know what? God was right. America is not my home. I am a stranger and exile here, too. My home is heaven. Oh, people don’t stop and stare at me anymore, but I’m weird just the same. I don’t follow U.S. patterns of thinking on a whole host of issues. And I am still called to make sacrificial choices, choices that advance God’s kingdom instead of my own. It’s just that it is harder to do it here, with materialism whispering in my ears and society telling me I’m wrong.

I’m not at home in the U.S.A. I wasn’t at home in Africa. The place I feel the most “fit”? Anywhere other Christians are gathered, worshipping our savior, serving him together. When I get together with other exiles and we can talk about home, yearn for home together, and work to show others the way to our home – well, that’s puts my homesickness at bay. That’s when I’m acting on who I really am …

A citizen of heaven, not of any country on Earth.