Profaning the Kingdom of Money

7 Mar

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Our trusty Honda finally breathed it’s last breathe by California standards a few months ago. The diagnosis – can’t pass smog. We began scrambling for a plan to get another vehicle before our registration deadline was up at the end of October deeming the car legally un- drivable. We mustered up the courage to ask a few of our financial partners if they’d consider praying about chipping into the pot so we could get another vehicle. We prayed and asked God for a miracle – and He provided one. Some offered a “pay back at your own pace” type of loan, others gave generously. These generous and obedient supporters inspired us in how they lived the truths of Jesus’ words in this passage. And as for us, I painstakingly planned out a reimbursement process for the “pay at your own pace” loans. This included but not limited to selling the old car in Tijuana, Mexico because smog laws are irrelevant there, keeping the cars value.

Being in debt to another person is foreign to me and has been a humbling process. “I will be true to my word and get them their money as quickly as possible” I tell myself. I believe there is honor and good stewardship in that thought. And in my defense, I has plans other than selling the old car to make significant dents in my loans.  However, their is another thought that God implanted deep in my heart. It’s grew like a small mustard seed within me. And it’s this, “I have someone who needs that car and I want you to give it away.” All that’s within me wanted to disqualify and disregard that notion. But I believe it was the Spirit at work- giving me an opportunity to choose what Kingdom I serve, God or money?

So I contacted my native born Tijuana friend Maria explaining the whole story. We both began to pray and God brought a woman to mind in Mexico. Mayra. Mayra has been a longtime friend and neighbor to Maria in a little town about 2.5 hours from the Tijuana border called Porvenir.  Mayra spent most of her life in Porvenir, jumping from harsh seasons of teenage motherhood at 13 to current grandma of four lively healthy kids at 55.  A story that is often familiar in this little Mexican town are teenage moms who find themselves living on the street, broken and confused, trying to care for their new baby. The father’s are often nowhere to be found and have little interest in caring for a new life. Mayra’s passion and vision is to come alongside these beaten and battered teenage moms offering them resources, care, and development to get them back on their feet. But the problem with Mayra’s ministry of the last 10 years is that she has no vehicle. Constantly she’s asking to borrow her friend’s vehicles so she can drive women to shelters or safe places. As I listened to Mayra’s story over some Mexican coffee in her humble little home a heavy silence filled the room as we waited for her response to my current question, “what was going on inside of you when you found out that someone wanted to give you their vehicle?” With tears rolling down her face, Mayra explained something to me.“I have been praying for 5 years for God to give me a vehicle. 5 years. I began to think it was impossible. I would say to myself ‘there’s no way someone is going to just show up on my front doorstep and give me a vehicle Lord!’ There’s just no way.” By this time there wasn’t a dry eye in the room. I slowly took the keys out of my pocket and slid them across the table. It was in this moment I realized the smallness of my faith in Jesus’ provision. I pray for a few days and if the Lord doesn’t seem to be answering my prayer in my timing or the way in which I’m expecting I began to lose faith. Mayra prayed for 5 years. Abraham waited for 10 years for the birth of Issac. Jacob waited 14 years for his bride Rachel. Waiting. Praying.

The motivation for this story has come from the parable of the Shrewd Manager in Luke 16:1-13. It’s seminal focus being “you cannot serve God and money.” “No servant can serve two masters.” Jesus makes it abundantly clear: you cannot serve God and wealth. Both require service and commitment. Both require attention and possessiveness. Jesus in this passage gives us the antidote to money owning us. How do we take away its power?  By giving it more and more away. We release it by holding it lightly. In doing so, we advance the Kingdom of God by investing in eternal rewards. We define ourselves as shrewd stewards of money and participate in His Kingdom when we give our resources and invest in someone outside of ourselves. Jesus hammers home to his disciples: how they steward their material possessions in this life echoes in eternity to the eternal riches they will possess in the next life.

For Holly and I as missionaries we are very mindful that the resources we have are not our own because we depend on people’s generosity for our livelihood. However, as we further examine our hearts in light of this passage there is a scarcity mentality interwoven into our framework. Fundraising is one of the most challenging formational journeys we have ever undertaken.  Money has a funny way of finding that intimate place in our hearts where we desire and need security. Jesus knows human beings inclination to find security in something other than God and is asking his disciples to make a choice. He says something very radical. The way you profane the kingdom of money is by giving it away. This is one way we declare our allegiance to His Kingdom. Easier said then done. But moments like these with Mayra call us back. To take stock of all that we have and remember He is Lord of this dance. He is Lord of our finances. And He honors those who are faithful with little.

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