I local business asked me to speak to a large gathering of employees this morning. What a privilege!
So I told them about the first law God gave his people after Egypt:
Then the Lord said to Moses, “I will rain down bread from heaven for you. The people are to go out each day and gather enough for that day. In this way I will test them and see whether they will follow my instructions. -Exodus 16:4,5
I read to them the happy ending, what happens when God’s people keep their daily bread and share the rest.
…the one who gathered much did not have too much, and the one who gathered little did not have too little. Everyone had gathered just as much as they needed. Exodus 16:17
We turned to the New Testament to see if God’s people still lived by this daily bread law on the other side of Calvary. And there we found Paul collecting an offering from a church with more-than-enough, delivering it to a church with less-than-enough so they could feed their neighborhood. And before the offering plates were passed Paul quoted Exodus 16.
Our desire is not that others might be relieved while you are hard pressed, but that there might be equality. 14 At the present time your plenty will supply what they need, so that in turn their plenty will supply what you need. The goal is equality, 15 as it is written: “The one who gathered much did not have too much, and the one who gathered little did not have too little.” – 2 Corinthians 8:13-15
I showed them Kiran’s picture, told of her happiness: This girl living in twenty-four square feet smiling, crying joy. “I’m so very happy because I have God.”
This is how we pass the test, I said. Not by measuring “enough” in square feet and digits to the left of the decimal, but my measuring it in contentment and dependence on God.
“Is my daily bread and my God enough to make me ‘so very happy’? If God is all I need to be happy I can give up anything he asks to make someone else so very happy.”
And then the question came.
“I live life big,” he said. “I don’t know how to reconcile the way I think about life and money with what you just said. I make a lot of money,” he said. “I give a lot but I spend a lot too. Can I do both?”
He wanted a number. How many square feet? What percentage?
He wanted a program. What steps do I take?
I gave him a Person. And my story.
I saw how much of the world lives and came home thankful for my daily bread – every crumb falling from God’s hand. God filled me with gratitude and pried my fingers from everything that wasn’t daily bread. And on my best day now I hold my time and money and plans loosely and come to God ready to hear, free to obey. Then, and only then, can I ask the hard questions with anticipation and not fear.
How much is enough this month?
What can you do with all this extra today, God?
Where do I go? What do I give? Who do I love? How?
Gratitude before answers.
He walked away wrestling – in deep conversation with God. I walked away thankful all over again for a God who rescues the poor from hunger and hopelessness and patiently wrangles the rich from gluttony and purposeless.
Manna. A gift from heaven. Rained down on us both this morning.
I wish I could take that man to the developing world with me. Not to change him, but to see how God would change Him. And He would.
“What if my dream house was plopped down next door to a slum in the developing world? What would that be like, to pass the poorest of the poor every day as I pulled up the street and turned into my driveway? What would the neighbors think? The problem is, well, my dream house wasn’t in that neighborhood. It was in mine. And in my neighborhood that house seemed normal, even modest. But God’s neighborhood is the world. Some people in God’s neighborhood are starving to death and don’t know Jesus. I’ve met them. And now they feel like my neighbor too. And that changes everything. God changed everything for me.”
I wish I could take every American Christian to the developing world – to shrink the oceans between “us” and “them”, pull the poorest in close – next door close. To see how God multiplies scant leftovers, loaves and fishes really, $38 each month, to feed and educate and heal and rescue 1.7 million children in twenty-six countries from poverty. I wish I could.
There aren’t enough seats on the airplane. But there’s plenty of room on the internet.
Some new friends and I will be posting from Peru November 13-17. We’ll be using some new technology to make the experience more interactive and real than any of our past trips. We’ll post pics and video and tell stories about how Compassion International is serving the poorest of the poor around Lima.
We’ll use our blogs to bring Peru’s children to you – across the miles, into your house.
And let’s see God give us gratitude and then answers to thousands of readers. And then help to hundreds of children.
I need a couple things from you, faithful readers. First, please pray daily for our bloggers, for clarity, for emotional and physical and spiritual strength, for words. Second, please pray for our readers – that God will speak to them. Ask God to fill them gratitude for daily bread, to loosen their grip on their leftovers, to ask God what He wants from them, and to simply cheerfully obey when he speaks.