27 05 2009
Miss T goes to the doctor...

Miss T goes to the doctor...

My church, Christian Assembly, is currently studying the Book of Acts, and last week our pastor taught from Acts 2 and 4, which describe how the first believers shared their possessions with each other.  The text indicates they lived like a family.  This weekend, my second family (the girls I lived with during the last two years at Fuller) got together for a little reunion.  We mainly celebrated that Kacy, who moved back home to Texas last year, came back into town.  Saturday was a beautiful day: we met in Hermosa Beach for breakfast and then enjoyed the sun and sand on the beach for a few hours.  But on my way back to Pasadena, while idling at a stoplight in Gardena, my car broke down.  And though it was an unwelcome interruption to our beautiful beach day, it has also reminded me of God’s goodness and providence.

Kacy “lent” me her AAA, since i’m not a member, saving me over $200 for a tow truck to take my car back to Pasadena.  She then immediately hopped on the phone to call her mother, who lives in San Diego, who drove an extra car up for me to use until my car gets fixed, so that I don’t have to rent one.  She gave up visiting some of her friends at our church’s night service so she could get to Laguna to pick up the car for me.  And as she flew back home to Texas today, I was tooling around town in her old car, going to work and running needed errands.  The abundance of her willingness to share what she had, and go out of her way to give it, absolutely floored me.  It literally saved me hundreds of dollars.

much-needed reunion...

much-needed reunion...

And I was thinking about all of this today as I was driving around.  I started praying and thanking God for the ways He had provided for my needs.  And it became very real to me that the way God provided for my needs was through other people. The willingness of others to share became a direct extension of God’s providence in my life, and caused me, at the end of the day, to see him as a good and loving and giving God.  If people had been stingy, or too busy to share what they had, I would have been left asking God, “Why didn’t you answer my prayers?  Can’t you see my needs?  Don’t you care enough to provide for me?”  But in the gifts of others I can see how God made a way when there was no way, how he went to great lengths to care for my needs, and I can tangibly live in his security and providing love.

When we cling to our stuff, we mar the image of the God who gives liberally.  When we live individually, disconnected from a sharing community, we are left without resources when things go wrong, and are forced to resolve the problems on our own, with our own limited finances, bearing the burdens alone.  And if we pray and ask for God to provide, though he could move mountains to make something happen, we take away a lot of his options when we refuse to make ourselves – and our stuff – available to others.

In my inconvenient little automotive crisis, I quickly became aware of the way our individualism has infected us.  I had a longer list of those I couldn’t count on to share their things than those I could.  And I felt guilty for asking people to give extra time or share their stuff.  God only needed a few to remind me of how much he loved me, but think of how much we are limiting God – and hurting ourselves! – by hoarding our things or being unwilling to bear hardship together!

As I was driving to work today, to a job I did not even have to look for but that someone referred me to, in a car that was so graciously loaned to me, my heart began to overflow with gratitude for those who, in large ways and small, have gone out of their way to share their time or resources with me, who have stayed up late to listen to me or counsel me, who have cooked meals or sent money to buy my family groceries, offered plane tickets when my dad was in the hospital, gathered resources, and prayed not just for me but with me during some of my long and painful struggles.  In all of these things, I am grateful to the people, but even more joyful at the providence of God.  Turns out, that little lesson we learned in kindergarten, simply to share, matters a great deal after all.  The way in which we share our things will become the way in which others see the goodness of God.

Now the company of believers was of one heart and soul, and not one of them claimed that anything which he possessed was [exclusively] his own, but everything they had was in common and for the use of all.” – Acts 4:32