I’ve wanted to share this story for some time but for some reason I haven’t done so yet. Now is the time.
It’s a story from my DTS. Come and journey back with me to about 5 and a half months ago- 2 weeks before leaving on outreach.
Imagine 66 students packed into a basement. On this particular day, I was a little late to lecture so I chose to sit on the stairs rather than directly in the main room. The speaker was a lady who was a part if the base leadership. And her talk was about ‘giving up your rights’ and ‘taking responsibility’ preparing us to have positive attitudes on outreach. She aptly linked taking responsibility in view of living in community with being generous to one another. She made it practical and opened up a response time where we were invited to ask God how we could be generous to one another.
I sat on the stairs and prayed. I said to God something along the lines of, “I don’t want to give for the sake of giving, I want to give so it hurts.”
And as I sat there. I was reminded of how this girl I lived with wanted to borrow a scarf from me. Now, never mind the the fact it was my favourite scarf; as a rule, I didn’t share my clothes. And I thought all of the girls had picked that up so my confused face prompted her to to ask if there was a problem. And I explained my rule.
You may read this with a confused look, questioning, “you seriously consider your scarf as clithing?!” Or maybe you simply think each to their own whichever camp you fall in-I’m with you. I wouldn’t normally consider a scarf clothing but this change in environment made me protective over my possessions.
But I digress, let’s go back to the generosity time. I’ve asked God to let me give so it hurts. A bold prayer -if I say so myself. I am reminded of my encounter with this girl, and I feel prompted to give the scarf that I am wearing (the same scarf she asked to borrow) to her.
If you’re smiling, I’m guessing that you’re thinking the story continues like this:
And gladly realising that in asking me to give up my favourite scarf, I recognise that God is answering my prayer and jumped at the opportunity to be obedient right? Err… Sorry you would be wrong.
My first response was “I don’t want to”. When I look back at this. I laugh at myself – this response is ridiculous. But it is human. I refuse to obey the answer to my OWN prayer. It’s crazy.
But God in his mercy brings another memory back to my mind. Even though I’ve told him that it’s my favourite scarf and I don’t want to give it away. He essentially says do you remember this story? And this is it.
Some years ago I was watching a prominent speaker on TV and she told a story similar to my own. She said, God asked her to give her bracelet to this lady. And like me she refused. And she stuck to her guns. But to what end? Because, when she got home she no longer had pleasure from wearing the bracelet. And this remained the case even after that day, it wasn’t a temporary dislike if what she once held dear. The feeling if dislike stayed with her – after that day she was no longer able to wear the bracelet.
I knew that I didn’t want that story to be my own. So I went to find the girl. And let me tell you that the conversation that followed was not easy. I think in hindsight it’s because I hadn’t yet fully surrendered the scarf. As I went to give her the scarf, where I expected her to gladly accept it, and share a story of how she had asked God for a scarf. Instead, she questions me. And I awkwardly remind her of when she wanted to borrow it, and stammer out that I think God wanted me to give it to her. It was so awkward. Eventually I leave. Returning to my place on the stairs and I cried. In fact, I sobbed. I have no idea why, but I did. And I knew that something had been released in me because in the end I chose obedience, I chose trust, I chose God.
After the session the girl comes and tries to return the scarf. And I can honestly say that I didn’t want it back. I was able to more kindly present that I felt God had highlighted her to me to bless her with the scarf. And I remember her response was so different to our intitial uncomfortable exchange. Her face brightened and she said “It’s nice to know that God wanted to give me something”.
A few minutes later I saw her wearing the scarf. There aren’t enough words to describe the deep joy I felt in seeing her wear it.
What I learned that day was the power of obedience and true surrender.
God is a God who answers prayer so be ready to do what you pray. God in his grace and mercy enables us to do the impossible and come out the other side unscathed.
He loves us. Let’s share that love by being generous to one another – knowing that God enables us to love as he loves.