Sunday, March 18, 2012
You cannot out give God.
While exploring the village where my husband and I just spent the weekend away - we discovered an op shop. Yay - I though (I know that 'yay' would not have been the word my husband would have chosen for that moment). In that lovely shop I found some books; a book about Akiane http://www.artakiane.com/ , which I gave to my niece - who is a lovely artist, an illustrated Beauty and the Beast for my daughter (because that is her favourite fairy tale) and one for me about money from a Christian perspective.
It is this last book that has me thinking. Over and over the author speaks of how he gave things away, including cars and a house even, and how God would use those gifts to bless others, and in return the author was blessed in many different ways.
Two years ago, when I was sitting my test to become an Australian citizen (finally after 40 plus years of living here), I met a lovely young woman (we'll call her Sally, though that is not her real name)- together we had helped an Afghani woman with very little English. I had lunch with this new friend. We spoke deeply and honestly from the first moment. As she was speaking to me I had this overwhelming urge to take off the military chaplain cross that I had been gifted with (in extraordinary circumstances). God was pushing and prodding me to give this cross to her. No - I was thinking - that can't be God because he gave it to me (I was a high school chaplain when I was given it), he knows it is very special to me. But the urge was very real. So I placed this little gold cross badge into her palm and said truthfully - "God is urging me to give this to you. I really don't want to. It means a lot to me, but I know I have to." I had tears in my eyes as I tucked my now empty hand into my lap.
I looked at Sally's eyes. She also had tears in them. She said to me, "Last night I was supporting a friend who is suicidal. I said to God - I know you love her, but sometimes I just don't know that you love me. Could you show me that you love me?" This simple gift was her answer to prayer.
I remember saying goodbye to her - feeling the loss of my cross and yet strangely lighter. I rushed to get to the book store where I was meeting my best friend in the coffee shop. Before I could even tell her my story she rummaged in her bag and pulled out the San Damiano cross - the cross that has special significance to Franciscans. She was a little nervous giving it to me (Catholic to Protestant), unsure of how I would receive it. She also gave me the prayer attributed to Saint Francis. She started to explain about St Francis, butI had to stop her. I hadn't yet told her that I was a novice with the Third Order of the Society of St Francis (TSSF). Imagine how all three of us felt when we realised that at that very moment when I handed over my cross, Caroline was buying the other cross for me. Sometimes I wonder - what would have happened if I hadn't given my cross to Sally?
But that is not the end of the story. My TSSF novice counsellor, when he found out, told me he had been a military chaplain - and so he sent me a new cross to wear.
No - you can't out give God it seems.