Having that first indepth conversation with a new friend is always interesting to me. I try my best to hit the "big" moments to bring them up to date of where we are in life now. However, there are times that small stories fit in there somehow and while I'm telling them I remember just how big they actually are. God reminds me of how incredibly faithful He has been for my entire life.
This morning at ESL, someone asked about the word tithe and what it meant. We read some Scriptures and talked about what God's intentions of tithing are and then we also discussed the word offering and if it was different or the same as tithing. It was truly a great conversation. One student asked about what would God say if the amount he needed to tithe was the amount he also needed to pay a bill or buy some food. Basically asking if tithing should come out at the end of the "paycheck" or at the beginning.
It's times like this when the difference in income between my family and theirs begins to stand out drastically. It's hard for them to take seriously the things that I'm saying because in their eyes I've never struggled in the way they have financially. In those few moments, the Lord reminded me of a time that there was a similar struggle.
It was in our first 2 months of moving out to TX for seminary. We were both searching for jobs, school books needed to be purchased, gas needed to be bought, and bills needed to be paid. We had always maintained that our tithe was the first thing that came out of our paycheck and then we'd use what we had left to take care of everything else. Well, the start of that third month with no job hit us harder than we had anticipated. We realized on a Monday that we literally didn't have any money for groceries. We had worked so hard to pay off credit card debt our first year of marriage that we cringed at the thought of putting groceries on the card. We headed out that morning in search of jobs and without reaching a resolution on what to do in regards to groceries. That afternoon we arrived home to a plain, white envelope on our front porch. Inside was a Wal-Mart gift card that had more than enough to cover our groceries. The note simply said that it was to help provide. No signature. No name. No anything. Just His provision.
Sharing that story this morning, made me thankful all over again. I remembered how overwhelmed I was at recieving that gift and knowing that we had talked to no one - except the Lord - about our situation. His provision 6 years ago was a provision again this morning. He allowed me to connect to the ESL students in a way that I had not been able to previously. They understood the fact that we had no idea that He would provide in that way when we chose to continue to tithe that month. We were able to talk about what His provision could look like if He had not delievered groceries to my door. We talked about how giving cheerfully and faithfully could NEVER be a wrong choice.
Yes, there are still MANY things about that story that don't relate to the 3rd world country we now live in - and I do recognize that even then 6 years ago, going a week without food from the store wouldn't have "hurt" us. I am in no way trying to compare my situation to that of the Malagasy here. However, I am indeed reflecting on how important it is for us to remember the things He has done for us. I am saying that no matter our social/financial situation - we should always give testimony to His faithfulness, His goodness, and His provision.