I just had a birthday. This year Father’s Day and my birthday were just two days apart. I’m not big into either day. Some people are. I’m not. I usually don’t get many gifts for either day because I don’t get excited about them. At the most I get a card in the mail from my grandmother or a phone call from my dad. My wife usually tries to at least take me out to eat. Whatever the case is, I don’t expect a lot of extras on those dates because my family has learned I’m not that big into it.
This year was no different.
My kids told me happy birthday and happy Father’s Day but, other than going out to eat and a movie with my wife, I didn’t get, or expect to get, anything special. It doesn’t bother me at all. But when I got to Benton Harbor to do some work, our ministry house supervisor handed me a little tube and told me happy birthday. I thanked him and opened the little tube to find a hundred dollar bill inside. I was shocked. I immediately tried to give it back to him. He wouldn’t take it and told me that the Lord had told him to give it to me. I couldn’t figure out a way to give it back to him without dishonoring the gesture, so I said thank you and put it in my backpack. But it got me thinking about something.
We have regularly seen instances of real generosity and kindness in the middle of the hardest of neighborhoods, showing me that God is everywhere at work. This is always an encouraging thing. We have taken to calling this, “Identifying sprouts of revival.” It’s where we see someone exhibiting the best of human behavior when everything in their situation would suggest behaving in a completely different way. We have seen single mothers share their last gallon of milk. We have seen families open their homes to entire other families so that the one doesn’t have to be homeless. We have seen individuals forgiving, with deep sincerity, the murderer of their son. I could go on and on but essentially, over the past sixteen years of doing street ministry, we have seen some of the boldest acts of love and generosity happening in the middle of hell on earth.
And then it made me think of the widow Jesus talked about in Mark 12:41. The widow was going up to put her offering in the temple treasury. Everyone else was giving out of their abundance. But she gave the last she had. Jesus said it was the most anyone gave because it was all she had. Our house supervisor gave me a gift that most everyone in my life could afford to give with no problem. The difference is our house supervisor gave almost everything he had. It’s a revival sprout. When someone from the “hood” begins acting in ways that glorify God it’s time to sit up and take notice. This wasn’t a casual gift. It cost him dearly.
It reminds me of the story in 2 Samuel 24 where King David is trying to make amends for a sin he led Israel into. He tried to buy land and offerings from a man named Araunah but Auraunah wanted to just give it to David. Since David was making an offering to the Lord, he insisted on paying for it because he said, “I will not sacrifice to the Lord my God burnt offerings that cost me nothing.”
Our challenge to you this week is, be careful that you’re not giving to the Lord that which costs you nothing. Be careful if your obedience to Him costs you nothing. Be careful if your alone time with Him costs you nothing. Be cautious if you’re tithes and offerings cost you nothing. Be careful if your walk with Him doesn’t cost you everything. It’s almost as if God expects you to give your life since He gave His for you.
I was humbled by our house supervisor. In one act of generosity he reminded me that the Lord is going to get His work done through some of the people we least expect. And I was also reminded that true sprouts of revival aren’t ones that don’t cost. The evidence that the Holy Spirit is up to some really special work is when the sprouts cost you everything. Hmmmm…..
With Love from the Streets