Remember that 5k that I was going to run? I’m not.
My life feels very different than it did when I last posted something back in February. The last few years, I’ve felt as though I was on the brink of atheism. I read a book called Jesus, Interrupted and it was very hard to move on from. I called it a Pandora’s box of atheism. It seemed impossible to put it all back into the box. To be honest, it’s still hard. It feels like something that I’ve just put under a blanket in the corner. If I don’t look at it, then maybe it will go away.
At the end of last year, I was so tired of feeling the burden of atheism on my back. I didn’t admit these feelings to anyone except for one person – and we never discussed it face to face. I couldn’t. The conversation had happened via emails. But at the end of last year…I decided to go all in. If I was going to believe in God – then I’m going to do it. I started out in the most difficult way that I knew how – giving my tithes. I gave them anonymously – in a tithing envelope, but with cash and no name. I reasoned that it was so that I wouldn’t feel prideful in knowing that our ministry knew that I’d started giving my tithes again after so long of not. That went on for about six months. About two weeks ago, I realized that it was actually rebelliousness that was keeping me from putting my name on the envelope. I didn’t want them to know that I’d picked this practice back up and I often wondered what they thought about the anonymous tithes. Maybe they’d figured it out – I’m typically not as sneaky as I’d like to think. So for about six months I’ve faithfully given my tithe and two weeks ago I added my name.
During the last two months or so – while I suppose that God was speaking into my heart about the rebelliousness concerning the tithes, something else was spoken into my heart. That our church needs to be paid off within the year. I can only describe this as God speaking to my heart, because I have my own debt. Our church requires $70,000 to pay it off and my student loans are over $20,000. If I was going to focus on a loan – shouldn’t it be mine? But the thought was there. I hesitate to call it a vision – because I imagine that visions are something much more. But on the same token…it sort of was a vision. A dream, a goal, to see our church paid off. I figured that if 50 people would give $120 a month for 12 months – that would pay the church off. So I spent a few weeks on that and then it was spoken into my heart again that I shouldn’t say that “If people would do this…” but that I should do it. It was only a couple of weeks later that our Pastor presented his vision that we pay the church off in a year. I didn’t know he’d been thinking this. But it seemed that God had invited me to share in this vision.
I’m sorry though, what? I should do it? I don’t have $120 a month extra to give. Not even if I stop eating out would it equal $120 a month. Then I realized that I have time. So I started looking for a second job. The girl who has been struggling with atheism was now looking for a second job just to have $120 to put towards the church’s loan. When she has her own loan to worry about. So I started looking. Checking my email one Saturday morning, I received the normal daily job listings that I always skim over. There was a part-time job opening at a Christian bookstore. I thought “Ahh, why not.” So I applied. They hired me. Now the almost-atheist girl is faithful in tithes from her regular job, faithful in tithes from her second job (at a Christian bookstore where I spend 15 hours a week talking to Pastors and broken people alike, all about Jesus), and is making enough money to pay $120/month on the church’s loan. I was going to give this money anonymously, but again – God corrected me. It was placed in my heart that the ministry needs to know who is on their side. They need to know that they’re not alone. So, I will put my name on it.
All of this is merely money, though. Sure, my own thinking has considerably changed and my goals are far different than most people would say that they should be. But if I’m going to serve God, then I will serve Him. I don’t know why this much has been put onto me and why I am having to go to such great lengths to make it happen. I am reminding God of this verse:
“Truly I tell you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” – Matthew 18:18 (NIV)
I am praying/hoping/having faith that I am loosening things on earth. What is loosened may not necessarily be financial and it may not be for me. That’s okay. I just want to see something loosed and I want God to allow me to recognize it as such.
My prayer in the last couple of months is that God will accept the water that I have to offer. My talents that I have to offer God are basically water. Water is regular, boring, tasteless, and (in developed countries) plentiful. Some people have beautiful talents to offer God – beautiful voices, the ability to play an instrument, or the gift of conversation. I have none of those. I have water. But I remember that water is all that Jesus requested in his first miracle. He requested water and made wine. Wine is something that is a process. It takes time to become something delicious. So I am asking that God accepts my water sacrifice and makes it into wine.