Wednesday, November 3, 2010

the joy of giving

A few months ago, Steve and I loaned our car to a student so she could use it for ministry. It was involved in an accident.

Thankfully, no-one was hurt, but the side of the car was smashed in. It took 8 weeks to fix (parts take a long time to arrive from Japan!) but we now have our car back, as good as new (and smelling powerfully of car paint).

This small experience taught me so many things. Here's what I learned.

  • When we heard about the accident, my first reaction was shock. No surprises there! But what was surprising was how quickly shock gave way to joy. What a privilege it is to suffer, even in a very small way, for Jesus, who suffered so much for us!
  • We are blessed to have enough to loan, share and lose. What we own belongs to God, not to us: we're only loaning what is God's, and if it gets damaged or lost, it doesn't matter, for it wasn't ours in the first place. It's God's to do as he sees fit with.
  • As he grows us, God reveals our idols and loosens our grip on them. Money, security, convenience: these things mean far more to me than they should, and I only realise this when they're taken away. This experience taught me to hold our possessions with an open hand.
  • We were humbled by how God meets our needs through other Christians. We loaned our car; a friend anonymously paid the insurance excess; and another friend loaned us her car while ours was being fixed. We bear one another's burdens.
  • God's providence is precise and loving. The exact 8 weeks our car was being fixed, a woman in my small group was in America, and she and her husband generously gave us the use of their car.
  • It's easy to complain about the small inconveniences of being married to a man in ministry. But I've grown in appreciation for a husband who values generosity over possessions, who chooses to trust others rather then protect our stuff, and who prizes integrity highly - how often does an insurance company hear, "We take full responsibility"?!
  • For good or ill, others are closely observing our attitudes and actions. One friend told me how much she's been encouraged by watching us respond to what happened.
  • It's good for children to practise generosity, as it teaches them how to respond to the far greater gift of God's Son. When Thomas asked Steve why we loaned our car only to have it smashed, Steve answered, "God loaned his Son to us so that he could be smashed in our place." Amen!
This one small experience has brought so much growth and joy with it, that it makes me wonder why I ever steer away from more costly service. I thank God for the day our car was damaged. A smashed-in car is a very, very small price to pay for all God has taught us. Praise his name!

image is from MarcinMoga / Lolek at flickr


Michelle said...

wow, great lessons.
Thank you for sharing.

Karen said...

'Amen'! Your thoughts are so encouraging & challenging Jean. I am thoroughly enjoying reading your blog, so much so that I have recommended it to quite a few of my friends. May God bless you for sharing your thoughts in such an open & honest way.

Sarah said...

That was a great post. I bought a new (secondhand) car a few years ago, only to have it smashed up a few months later by a driver who went straight through a red light. The whole experience taught me a lot about God being sovereign in giving and taking away.

I was a bit confused about What a privilege it is to suffer, even in a very small way, for Jesus, who suffered so much for us! Did you mean your family suffering through the loss of a car given up for ministry purposes?

Jean said...

Thanks, it's good to know it was encouraging.

Yes, Sarah, that is what I meant. Even as I wrote it I thought "This is a little unclear and it's not really suffering, is it?!". But yes, I meant suffering (in a very small way - i.e. really just worry and inconvenience in this case) for the sake of ministry.

Sarah said...

Thanks for the clarification. I still think it counts as suffering for Christ, as your desire to serve Him lead to this happening. It's a bit different than randomly falling over and breaking your leg, which is still suffering, but not suffering for Christ, if you get my drift