I am in awe.
I don’t even know how to start this blog post, but I know that I have to write this down.
For the last six months, our family has been on an unbelievable journey. We have learned about sacrifice. Our faith has been tested. We have had our eyes opened. We have seen God answer prayers. What happened today was such an amazing God thing that it gives me chills.
Six months ago, we were challenged to join with our church on a journey of generosity. For the last 10 years, our church has been meeting in a local school. We are blessed with an incredible state-of-the-art auditorium that we are able to rent for Sunday morning worship. But six out of seven days of the week, we are basically invisible to our community because we don’t have a building.
During the last few years, more and more people have been coming to our church. We have seen some amazing things happen as we live out our mission of “helping everyday people become passionate followers of Jesus Christ.” It is our desire to live life together in community, to reach out to the lost and lonely and those who need help in our community. And to do that, we believe that God is calling us to step out and purchase a facility.
It seems impossible. The economy stinks. Lots of people in our church body don’t have jobs. But we couldn’t ignore this feeling of urgency that it is time to expand our vision by purchasing a facility.
I’m not going to lie. I had a very difficult time working through what this would mean for our family. Like many other families, we would need to significantly increase what we were giving. We asked ourselves, “What can we give up so we can give more to the Kingdom of God.”
This hasn’t been easy. We have had to take a hard and often painful look at our priorities, our selfish desires and our own greed. We have found that our definition of the word “need” has been very out of balance. Many of the things we think we “need” to live an average life in the suburbs of Chicago are really just things we want or desire to be comfortable.
We have had to learn to trust God like never before. To be honest, we realized that we haven’t experienced many times in our life when we had to really think about how we were spending our money and make hard choices to give things up that we want or even “need.” But at the same time, the experience has brought with it a ton of freedom!
The last six months have been an incredible journey for our church. We have had to unite as a body to support this effort. We have gone before the local zoning board to gain approval. We have faced opposition from another property owner. Through it all, God has opened doors and removed major obstacles to allow us to keep moving forward.
We now face the largest challenge so far. Our church has given more than $350,000 to make a downpayment on the building we hope to purchase. However, about six weeks ago, we found out we still need $350,000 more. And we need it in September.
When we heard this news, honestly, our hearts sank.
“It’s not possible,” was our first reaction.
But since then, God has been working on us. We realize now that this isn’t about what our family can do or what our church can do. This is about what God can do. And God can do the impossible.
We wanted to go before the Lord with willing hearts to do what He might ask us to do. Since there are about 100 families in our church, our family decided that we want to give $3,500 above and beyond what we normally give to help raise $350,000. There have been other times in our life when $3,500 might not have seemed like a huge amount to give. But we are in a place where we really had no idea how that would be possible. We felt a strong conviction that we needed to go outside our church body to ask for help.
We sat down and brainstormed what we could do to use the talents and gifts God has given us to raise some money. We made a list of the friends and family in our life who might be willing to help.
We decided that our 6th grader would participate in a 3.5 mile run/walk his youth group was organizing.
I remembered that I had several hundreds dollars worth of Discovery Toys inventory that I could sell.
The kids talked about setting up a lemonade stand.
We wrote a letter and sent it out. I will admit that I procrastinated and procrastinated because I really didn’t want to ask people to give money. But we finally got the letter in the mail last week.
We started hearing back from people almost immediately. People wanted to buy Discovery Toys. Others wanted to support the 3.5 mile run. Others just wanted to give. People were responding… but that $3,500 goal still seemed far off.
We have heard stories of others in our church receiving money unexpectedly. One family got a big financial gift from a relative. Another family received a bonus from work. Another family had not been paid by several clients and finally got paid. We kept trusting God for that $3,500 that he had put on our hearts.
As I prayed about it this week, I remember thinking, “If we really DO get $3,500, I will know it was God.”
When we got home tonight, we opened the mail. We checked our voicemail. And we were shocked.
That is how much people have given. Yes, we are $5 short, but that’s close enough for me to believe.
We are so thankful to each person who gave in some way. Whether it was tens of dollars or hundreds or more, it is unreal to us how God told each person exactly what they needed to give to be part of that total.
The bigger goal still sounds impossible to our human minds. And yet seeing what God did on a smaller scale makes us realize that He can do it. We saw it happen. You should have seen us screaming and dancing around when we realized people had given almost exactly $3,500.
Is He big enough to add a few more zeros? I don’t have any doubt.
I am in awe.