there are quite a few people outside of our community that read this blog…and for those people…this particular entry may be difficult to understand…or may even sound strange…but i hope everyone can join in the divine irony we have experienced over the last month.
one of the things that we, as the [living] room, have been moving toward over the last four or five weeks is our priority of giving a higher percentage of the offerings coming in to our missional effort. this is part of our priority in reaching out into the neighborhoods and city that we live in…as our mission field…to help, love, and serve people…helping those who are hurt, poor, and oppressed…in order to show them the love of Christ and the hope that is found in Him. as a result…we increased the total amount of missions money going to this work from 10% to 50%. this is a huge jump…and a huge step of faith…because….
we have been wrapping up some financial commitments that we have had. as a result…four weeks ago…after meeting all financial commitments…we had a whopping $2.76 in our checking account (of course we had missions money already set aside…but we believe that money is untouchable and only to be used for mission-oriented things). to make the $2.76 number more powerful and amazing…we would have only had $.76 in our account had it not been for two little kids who put a dollar apiece into the offering. the story gets better…
we have obviously been waiting to turn on the gas at our new facility…because we found out that we would have to pay a down payment of $500 to just get the gas line turned on. we were a little surprised at the steep down payment…but since we had talked them down from $800 and could not get them down below $500 (even after three subsequent phone calls)…we thought that we would wait until we had more money in the account before we got it turned on. so between warm weather…and some electric heaters…we have gotten by just fine for the past three weeks…until the cold of yesterday. but before i get to that…
we got a call earlier in the week from a family that had their electric turned off…which ultimately meant that they didn’t have any heat. unfortunately…because of the amount of money that they owed…they would not be able to get their electric turned back on. we were able to talk to the family and be a part of their lives by restoring the heat to their house.
as we met last night for our church gathering…the electric heaters were providing heat…but they just couldn’t keep up. it was chilly…so we just wore our jackets….circled the chairs up…got close to each other….and enjoyed the favor of God in that moment. after we finished i went into the bathroom…and took a moment to think (because people think the best when in the bathroom…right?) and i thought, “God…this is some real irony here. we just helped a family restore electric and heat in their house this week…and here we sit in this little cold room because we haven’t had the money ourselves to get the heat turned on.” i couldn’t do anything but smile and shake my head.
so today we had more than enough money to get the heat turned on by paying the steep $500 deposit. we called the gas company and informed them of our intentions. they told us to take the $500 check to one of their bill payer locations, get a receipt, and then call them back to set up the appointment. we stopped by the local Marsh supermarket to make the payment…and evidently we were missing one digit in the 24 digit account number…so we couldn’t make the payment. we went back to the phone and called the gas company…and this time….(sound the angelic symphony)….something extraordinary happened.
the lady we were talking to gave us the account number…which ended up being VERY different than the account number we were given earlier. although strange, we told the representative that we would take the payment to the payment center and then call her back to set up an appointment. she said, “well…you can make that payment by eCheck on the phone.” and we replied, “we have talked to over a half dozen reps over the last four weeks…and this is the very first mention of paying by phone.” so we made the payment by phone and were getting ready to set up the appointment. we told her that the facility had five different gas meters…so we gave her the number of the one that we would be using. she said, “i am sorry…but i think we may have a problem…they have set up two separate accounts for you guys…give me a chance to review all of it.” after a few minutes…the rep came back and said, “they had you set up to use the entire building…not just the upstairs room.” and even though this had been explained to each of the half dozen other reps at least three times apiece…no one had figured it out and made the connection…except for this rep. she said, “now this changes everything. instead of your deposit being $500…it is actually $217…and you can expect a credit on your first bill.”
maybe i am crazy here…but God loves it when people who are faithful to Him…are selfless and honor Him with their first fruits. translation: when people give their very best…and give everything they have…in God’s name….putting others first….rather than themselves…God honors that. and in a way that only God can do…He orchestrates a situation where He gets complete credit for it. in the same way that this is another great lesson for our community at the [living] room…it is a lesson to every individual and family about how God takes care of and blesses people who give their first fruits (time, money, passion, effort), who are selfless in their sacrifice and giving, and who are passionately trying to seek Him in everything they do.
all this…and our gas is getting turned on tomorrow!