What I love about God is His awesome power, love, grace, mercy, etc. What I LIKE about the Dude is His unabashed willingness to bonk me over the head every once in awhile.
I’m having a serious “Our God is an Awesome God” week. And it’s Easter, which is appropriate. So here, draw your own conclusions:
I’m going to Africa this summer, as you may have noticed me shouting from the rooftops. I’m beyond excited, but being the control freak that I sometimes am, I am also a little stressed. Because for the first time in my life, I’m basically relying on God to provide the funding for something that I seriously can’t afford on my own. I’m having to ask for money, which takes a bite out of my well-guarded pride, and trust that because I know this trip is in line with God’s will for me at this time in my life, He will provide. Sounds simple. Maybe for you. I, little me, I struggle here.
I like having money. I like spending it. I like stuff! I have been a serious stuff connoisseur for the larger part of my life. Stuff has been my friend and my companion and my entertainment… I generally dig it. This trip has caused me to adopt a wiggle-room free budget… basically, everything I make goes to gas, bills, and Africa. I’m saving tip money to get a haircut. So no stuff. In fact, I’ve had to sell a lot of my stuff just to break even. It’s odd, and annoying, and stressful, and… intoxicating.
Because God is good. All the time. And when I let go of something, He hits me back with a blessing in some unexpected form. I have half the stuff I once had, but I have acres of forest to explore and a thousand fun things to do for free! I have a job that doesn’t require me to be trendy, or cute even, so I don’t feel compelled to buy new clothes. And I have the satisfaction of knowing that I’m actually making sacrifices (gasp!) for the purpose of achieving something good. Something good for other people, not just for myself. I’m learning to value money more than I ever have, and track it, and take care of it, and I find that my priorities are changing a little more every day.
And the response is what does me in. I mentioned God bashing me over the head, and though I did actually get bashed in the head by a tree branch about an hour ago, I don’t mean literally. What I love about our God is that He is personal… He knows me, and He reaches out to me in ways that are so personally meaningful. If you know me, you know I love thoughtful gifts… unexpected, little personalized things that cost little or nothing but clue you in to the fact that someone was really listening to you, really paying attention. Here’s what God does:
I had no room in my budget this month, what with taxes and deposits and yuck. I also had to get an immunization for the trip. The shot cost $32. I didn’t have $32. At this point, I can get seriously stressed out about $32. So I’m worrying, and wondering, and praying, and hoping… and I find a bag of pocket change from California. And I’m counting it thinking “How funny would it be if I had $32… no way would I have $32… seriously, this can’t be $32…” It wasn’t. It was $32.10. (Sure, you there reading, this could be one of a thousand coincidences. It’s a choose your own adventure story, this life, so I’ll call it a miracle if I want to 🙂 )
My pastor keeps saying “God wants to bless you.” This is profound for me, because I struggle there… I tend to feel like God should want to punish, not bless me. I’m harder on myself than you know, and it has been a necessary reminder for me: “God wants to bless you.” God wants to bless me.
The following day I received an email from an old friend letting me know that she and her husband had made an unfathomably generous donation toward my trip… and to let them know if I had any trouble raising more funds… they want to make sure I get there no matter what.
God wants to bless me.
Last Friday I went to dinner with a bunch of people from work to say goodbye to a few friends who were moving on. I sat at a table with two beautiful people I had never met, Peter and Emmorie, who are originally from South Africa. Also at the table were my friend Shauna and her husband Chris, and my friend and coworker Jean. We sat there for hours by the fire talking about life, about Africa, and ultimately about God and how our generation wants and needs to change “religion”, to bring it back to what it once was and what it should be. Eventually, I told them my story, my colossal mistake, my big fat fall from grace… and Peter looks me in the eyes and says to me “You know what I want to say to you, Karyn? God wants to bless you.” My random work party turned into a night where some new friends sat around a table and loved me, ministered to me. It was pretty darn great.
And for Easter I got shoes. Fabulous, frivolous shoes that I had decided not to buy to stay on budget. That is one smart little bunny.
Here’s the thing kids. I’ve been a Christian my entire life, and I’m only beginning to get it. But here’s what I know: God wants to bless me. And if God can desire in His heart of hearts to bless willful, prideful, defiant, and forgiven little me… He wants to bless you. That’s what I want to shout from my soapbox: God wants to bless you. I hope you know. I hope He will.