Saturday, November 08, 2008

It takes lots and it takes little

I learned some interesting lessons while raising support. Some of them continue to roll around in my mind as I go about language training, and I took some time recently to reflect on some of the lessons I learned during that time. One thing that stuck with me was a better understanding of what Jesus taught his disciples when he spoke about the poor widow who gave her two coins to the offering.

People gave a huge range of monetary amounts while I raised support. I say with complete confidence, I NEEDED that full range of gifts - from the $1.65 to the $1000, from $8/month to $200/month. I needed both. The $1000 gave me the possibility of reaching the goal. It gave me practical progress to reach the full amount. Without the large gifts, I wouldn't have had enough to come. If my support was built up solely by "$1.65 gifts" - well, I wouldn't have enough and I wouldn't be here right now.

I am happy to be here. I believe God wants me here. I am grateful people gave large amounts - because it made this possible and I know it was a sacrifice for them. Often times those large gifts came at pivotal points, exactly when I needed a boost of encouragement. Praise God, I was often literally floored by His timing and the generosity of people.

But what about the $1.65 gifts? What about the $8/month? In what way did those help me get here, if not to the same "practical" degree as the large gifts?

I'll do my best to explain this, but I confess it isn't easy for me, because it doesn't make "logical" sense - it makes "narrative sense," if anything. What I'm saying is, although it was hard to see how small amounts helped me reach the goal, I can't tell you how humbling it was to receive a teenager's $1.65 snack money to help you serve overseas. People often talk about how many small gifts put together make something big. That is true, and the fact that I'm fully supported by small amounts put together is proof of that - but let's think to the poor widow who gave 2 cents to the offering. Christ didn't defend her gift by pointing out "it would add up." Small gifts in God's hands are powerful, not only if they "add up," but by their very nature of pure sacrifice. The widow gave "all she had," and imagine if the person receiving those two bits was right there to receive it. Small gifts are what caused me to stop rushing ahead, to pray, to thank God for the generosity and sacrifice of others, and repent for getting excited and giving more attention to the bigger gifts. What a shame.

If my support was built up only by huge chunks of giving, I would not have the blessing of having my heart completely broken by the compassionate sacrifice of those whose hearts are yearning to reach people in need. Their compassion augments my passion; their sacrifice fuels my motivation; and when I take time to talk with people on the street, when I drill myself repeating a single vowel over and over and over, when I take time to glue together a child's craft or tie his shoe - I am not thinking of the $1000 gifts, I'm thinking of the $1.65 a teenager gave me. At the end of the day I thank God that the $1000 will enable me to come back the next day, and the next, and the next. But as for the moment when I'm not doing huge projects and working with a team of people assembling a video hundreds of people will see - when I'm just focusing on putting two syllables together, that $1.65 gives me the passion and resolve to do it. And in the end - a complete project is composed of a million small moments of resolve and determination. Just as my full support is composed of many small gifts, any great accomplishment will be composed of small moments of determination.

THANK YOU for your $1000 that helps me continue this work, that often comes RIGHT at a crucial moment of need. And thank you, THANK YOU for your $8/month, as a small part of a bigger amount - but more importantly, to remind me to be humble, to devote myself fully to every single "small step," and so that your compassion can be mine as well. Thank you for your $1.65. Put together with others, it helps me to serve here. But more importantly, it impacts the manner in which I serve - not just on the $1000 projects, but the $1.65 ones just as passionately. It reminds me not to just focus on being able to conduct an entire interview in Spanish - but to also put effort into every syllable, trill, and dipthong that rolls of my tongue.

Without "small gifts," I could not be here in person. But just as importantly, without small gifts I would not be fully here in heart and spirit. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Although 90% of the journey may be "just showing up," I want to do more than just that, and I know God wants more than that for me as well. He wants me to be moved with compassion, with mercy, with dedication and commitment - and most of all, with love. Just as He is.

I need to show up. And I need to do the "small stuff." Thanks for what you teach me in supporting me in this work.