"Could it be that a gift is too big for God?"
Today’s devotion is a wonderful challenge for me to change the way I think about giving. Key quotes that popped off the pages to me are:
“Is it possible to have too many resources?” “Can our gift block others’ view of God by calling attention only to our human wealth and generosity?”
"Do our gifts point to us... or to God?"
I just returned from a trip to Brazil. I work part-time for Brazil Mission Society and was honored to get to go there and see the Orphanage and the children and staff who live and work there with my own eyes. I have written articles about the children and this place. I have all of their photos in a notebook. But now, I would get to see them face-to-face. We would live in the home with them – not in a hotel. We would eat with them, play with them, go to school with them, laugh and cry with them.
I traveled with 4 other women, and we were loaded down with baggage filled with arts and crafts, clothing, medicine, toys, school supplies, gifts, etc. Over and over again our leader wisely cautioned us to be careful in the way we distributed all of our “presents.” We did not want to arrive and be “Santa Claus.” We wanted to shower them with the Love of Jesus - not the love of The Five Americans.
All of the “impressive Portuguese” I had learned prior to the trip lasted about 3 seconds. I had my smart-phone with me with an amazingly helpful English-Portuguese app. That helped a lot. But it got in the way. I quickly realized that the kids were hanging around me to play with my phone – and my head was so buried in the App trying to communicate with them in Portuguese, that I wasn’t even looking at the children in front of me! So, I left my phone in my room and did a lot more giggling and pantomiming and hugging and hand-holding and staring into the eyes of these beautiful children instead of relying on my self-made, impressive American gadget. After reading today’s devotion, I see how my Phone-App got in the way of what God wanted to do. Instead of the children being amazed by the love of God through an American Woman, they were being amazed by the American Woman’s fancy phone.
“Is it possible to have too many resources?” Yes.
“Can our gift block others’ view of God by calling attention only to our human wealth and generosity?” Yes.
They enjoyed my phone. They thought I was cool. But God didn’t have much room to work until the phone was put away. Then the relationships with Amanda, Felipe, and Leo really became precious. We played Thumb-wars, and High Five Games. I sat for hours teaching Gabriel how to use his new Spirograph - he speaks no English and I speak no Portuguese. But we bonded over a Spirograph. We will be life-long friends in Christ. I "hammed" up being from Texas and taught them how to say their names in “Texan!” Instead of wanting to sit by me to see my PHONE, they wanted to sit by ME and get to know ME. Instead of sitting by me and watching my fingers type English phrases into the Translator, we sat together and used our fingers to stroke each others faces, and to draw pictures with new Crayons, and to hold the hymnal together during devotions. Without a phone in the way, our hands were free to hug, and give back rubs, to tossle their hair – all the things that a MOTHER would be doing – if they had one.
Now there was time to simply be together. And even though we could not communicate with our words, we communicated by the power of the Holy Spirit, through singing, and praying, and just “being” ourselves.
“Can our gift block others’ view of God?" Yes. And it almost did. But thank You God for urging me to put away the phone. I pray that they felt this overwhelming love of God through me and my hands while we were together.
“God, please let me remember this lesson. Help me to realize that I don’t need fancy prayers, fancy presents, elaborate gifts, or huge financial resources in my “river-bed-ness.” Help me not to get in Your way of loving people. Help me just be me and to not block the view of You. Amen.”
-dawn (“Aurora” in Portuguese!)