The very handsome guy in the picture above is my 7 year old son Jacob. He is an amazing kid! He loves to go to church, and not just for the video games that he gets to play after the children’s service. He says he loves the God songs best. I melt every time I see him raise his little arms in worship.
One Sunday as we were leaving church I noticed that Jacob was being unusually quiet (he talks ALL THE TIME). When we got to the car I asked him what was up and he told me he was feeling sad because he didn’t have any more money for the shoe. What the heck? As it turns out the children’s worship class had been taking an offering every Sunday to support world missions and at each service the children put their offering in some sort of shoe (I’m assuming that the shoe has something to do with clothing people?) I had no idea they were giving to missions and I also had no idea that every Sunday my little guy was taking a coin out of his little piggy bank and giving it as his offering when he went to church. He had given it all away and was sad because he had no more to give. And, yes I cried (his dad did too.)
Remember the part where Jesus was talking about receiving the kingdom like a little child? Yea, this is what he was talking about.
Jacob does not get his propensity for sacrificial giving from me and I have a lot to learn from him. It is often difficult for me to give sacrificially and when I do it is often with a sigh while thinking about what could have been (mani/pedi, new shoes, have the deck fixed, new shoes.) With this in mind Matthew 8:28-34 really stuck with me today.
In this passage Jesus meets up with two demon possessed men who are so violent and offensive no one could go near them. These guys were clearly living on the fringes of society. The demons, afraid of Jesus’ power begged him to cast them into a heard of pigs that were feeding near by. When they were cast into the pigs the men were healed of their affliction and the entire heard of demonic pigs drown themselves in the lake. The men attending the pigs told of Jesus miracle (in Mark’s retelling he indicates that they reported “all about the swine”) and the ENTIRE town showed up and pleaded with Jesus to leave their land. Craziness.
My study bible suggests that the crowd of people weren’t really upset about the demonic men, they were unhappy because they lost a few hundred pigs. Makes sense. It’s often all about the money isn’t it? In this case even if the people were glad that the resident derelicts were now clothed, in their right minds, and no longer acting violently against them they were very unhappy that it had to happen at their expense.
Before I cast stones at these towns people I have to really examine myself. If Jesus showed up at my house tomorrow and said ”Look Nicole, I need to take all of your family’s wages for an entire year so I can bless and restore two homeless, drug addicted, spiritually possessed men at the Rescue Mission” would I be ok with it? That is essentially what Jesus did when he cast the demons into the herd and they were destroyed. The truth is I would be thrilled that the men received healing but I don’t know if I’d be thrilled about it happening on what I consider “my dime”.
So, my question for myself today is when will I really, truly begin to see my dime as God’s dime? His to give and His to ask me to give. I want to be strong enough in spirit to follow God’s command to surrender our herd of pigs to Him and His kingdom work. I want to celebrate the life giving, life restoring miracles of Jesus even if it costs me every pig that we own. I long for child like faith, faith like my son’s. I want to be able to hold my empty piggy bank and be sad, not because I have nothing, but because I have nothing left to give.
On this topic, if you haven’t read Francis Chan’s book ‘Crazy Love’ you should check it out. It will move you. Here’s the amazon link: http://tiny.cc/ugYuS
One more thing… Jacob, mommy loves you and is very, very, very proud of you!