“You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see.” – Rev. 3:17-18
The Compassion Bloggers trip to Tanzania is over, more quickly than it seems they usually are. Maybe because I was playing catch-up all last week.
How many people read my posts about it and/or clicked over to follow the bloggers? I’m thinking that it was very, very few. In fact, I have the feeling that even my regular blog readers skipped this trip. (Based on almost no traffic, not a single Facebook “like,” only one comment, etc.)
Which means that no one might read this post as well. ::shrugs::
So why am I still writing this? Because maybe there are one or two whom God has directed here after all, or whom He will direct here in the future. Maybe there are a few who realize that sponsoring a child isn’t really about giving. Sure, it includes that, but that’s not what it’s about. At least, that’s not what it’s supposed to be about.
See, this is what most people think sponsoring a child is about:
I agree to have $38/month taken out of my bank account. Maybe I’ll even have to give up going out to dinner once/month to afford that. But that means a child in another country gets medical care, food, and a basic education, so that’s worth it. I’ve done a good thing.
Sure, if that’s how you go about it, then it is only about giving. And that is where it starts, because any exchange has to start somewhere. And in this exchange, we are the only ones who can start it.
But here’s what sponsorship can be:
I agree to have $38/month taken out of my bank. I’m giving what amounts to one out-to-dinner meal because due to the amazing fact that I happen to have been born on the upside of currency exchange rates, that’s all it’ll take to provide a child with food, medical care, and a basic education.
I am going to also give some more. Now I’m going to give of my time and attention… I’m going to regularly write to my sponsored child and get as involved in his life as he’ll let me.
I’m also going to pray. I’m going to open my heart to both a child and to God. I’m going to take advantage of this partnership where everything is done in Jesus’ name.
And that’s when you start receiving.
There are so many different kinds of wealth. Here in America and in other first-world industrialized nations, we’ve got our hands mixed up in the financial wealth of the world (even if it does usually feel like that “wealth” slips through our fingers too fast to actually grab hold of).
But we are not rich in perspective and values. Because with all our things and the bills that come with them… with all of our government and laws and elections… with all our education (and bills for that)… with all our grocery store shelves filled with questionable ingredients by companies that are just as hungry for our money as we are…
With our TVs and computers and news and entertainment… we are blind. (See the verse at the top of this post.)
Yes, we know we’re materialistic and that “things” don’t matter in the scheme of things… but knowing that doesn’t make the electric bill go away, does it? “Knowing” also does not prevent blindness.
Sometimes finding God in the whirlwind of first-world industrialized life is nearly impossible. No wonder Jesus said it’s so hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God!
Which is why this “exchange” is so great! It’s a clear way to grab a hold of $38 of that wealth before it slips away and exchange it for “gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see.” (Rev. 3:17-18)
So what do you receive?
Joy and laughter
The knowledge that somewhere, a child prays for you every day. (Anyone ever noticed how powerful children’s prayers are.)
More of Jesus.
I’m serious. Jesus said that the kingdom of God belongs to the children. If we want to enter the kingdom of God, we must become like children. I think he meant learning to see Him through the eyes of a child.
Some of the most precious inside-of-me-changes that God has done in me have come because I have learned to look for God’s hand and voice and face amongst poor children half a world away. Yes, we have children here, and my children have taught me much… but I’m afraid that many American children are “old” compared to children stuck in poverty. So many children in our country have already bought into our materialistic viewpoints.
My life–the real life that counts–is worth so much more already, just because of what these children have given me.
And that’s the great exchange. We give them a tiny bit of what we are rich in — $38/month. We also give them the sacrifice of what we are not rich in… time needed to write letters and pray for them. But in return, they give us what they are rich in — perspective on what’s really important.
Which is worth more? Quite frankly, I think we just might have the opportunity to receive far more than we’re giving.
“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” – Matt. 6:19-21
Do you want your heart to be found in Jesus?
“Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.” – Matt. 25:40