Saturday, October 23, 2010

Being a Little Foolish

Lately God has been wooing me into greater trust. Last weekend the Spirit gently pointed out that my love of money is a hinderance to both trusting God as my Provider and furthermore loving my neighbor as much as I so love myself. I was challenged to let go of more of my wealth.

At first I was afraid of parting with my money (really afraid!) but as the week passed by I have realizing the burden of my affluence while living alongside the poor. It creates a big gap in building friendships here (real friendships) and silences my ability to talk without hypocrisy about my faith in Christ among the poor - Christ being the One who left the richess and power of heaven to speak the Good News to the poor that the Kingdom belongs to them and even died for it, while I love money too much to leave it for the sake of the Kingdom to take root among my neighbors whom are the poor.

2 days ago, I was visiting Auntie and Uncle's on the Indian holiday which celebrates the goddess of wealth called "Laxmi Puja". That morning I felt inspired to write down a dream- an idea to sell more of my possessions and put those resources to work for my neighbor's well-being. It's so true; where my wealth is my heart will follow. Currently my heart is very much for myself. As I put the pen to paper to write out this dream, I started pondering the Providence of God- fear crept in again..."what might happen if I trust God more for my needs by living a life more reliant on the good will of others?"

Just then, a package arrived at the door. I was surprised when Auntie said it was for me... strange that the one day I visit a packages arrives for me. So I opened the rather large box to find 30 or more snacks alongside some basic toiletries- most of which were aligned with my mental list of "things I wish I had here". It was like someone read my mind? I searched to box to find a letter, "who could have sent this? surely it's from a close friend or family member"

To my delight the letter was from Queen- a neighbor in Pasadena! This beloved women whom I have spent so little time with sent me a huge package filled with things she had somehow knew I wanted. Jehovah Jireh! God provides through the love of neighbors and this neighbor's love for me inspired me to love my neighbors! But how?

Question: Why does boy bring girl flowers? it seems such a waste that a boy finds the most beautiful thing in nature only to kill it and bring it to his lover for a few days of enjoyment. And yet as a girl I know full and well that it is the foolishness in this act that qualifies the love. So in response to God's gift to me, through Queen, I desired to be a little foolish for Christ- not sacrificial by any means as I kept plenty of the gift for myself but just a baby step in the direction of gratitude.

Freely I was given the gift and so I felt inspired to freely give. I separated the cookies into one bag to "give away" and the other "to keep". I wrote Queen a letter telling her how I was going to share her gift with those who could never afford oreo's or teddy grahams here. Pleased with my plans I sat down, as if the deed was done, to read a book for a while. Over the course of a few hours my mind started to grow attached to the yummy cookies- so quickly material possessions begin to steal my heart again-I am finding selfishness creeps it's ugly head into the plans of love not yet put into action.

Upon this realization I grabbed the bag and knew exactly who to see. There are 8 little street kids and 2 mothers that for 3 months I daily passed and often avoided by "passing on the other side of the road" as not to be confronted with the conviction that I have far too much while others suffer so greatly- note: I am learning that my tendency is to avoid the conviction of the Holy Spirit is so that I will not compromise the "good life" I have in mind for myself for the plan's of God. Perhaps avoiding situations that cause guilt is key to living selfishly.

As I walked down the street I was nervous, praying that this gift would not harm my neighbors dignity and that I might see Christ in each of their faces. As I reached the group of street kids I called one over and they all came running. I explained that a friend had given me a great gift today but it is too much for just me. I asked if they would like to share the gift with me- confused they looked at each other and grinned. This was a yes. At first I said "one each", but I could not hold back- If this is Jesus then I wanted to give all I had in the moment.

2 Indian men watched the event unfold, a little confused, but then touched that I would share my wealthy snacks with the lowest people's in their society. I know it was charity and charity by and large does nothing to liberate people from their circumstances or challenge the systems that put them there. However this was not an attempt at justice, but only acting a little foolish for Christ- and my neighbors on the street were loving it! Perhaps somehow this was pleasing to God, perhaps not, but for me it was a baby step in learning to let go of more of what I want.

I am finding the more I let go of this world, (which has not been much yet) in terms of money, wealth, comfort, prestige and power, to join those who are excluded from such things, the more the world looks like a more generous, beautiful, and loving place to be. It can only get better from here.

Please keep me in your prayers as this week I leave for Nepal to renew my Visa. I will have 3 weeks alone to pray and reflect on the last 6 months while I am equipped for what is next. I hope God might use this time to liberate me from my love of money for something much greater.

"There are two kinds of Christianity: success- Christianity and failure-Christianity. Jesus said, "Unless I fail, my work will be useless"- Kagawa (the late Japanese social reformer and evangelist in slums)