Facebook memories are a funny thing. They can take you back to times that were good–when joy and happiness were the order of the day– and to times that were not so good. Here is a blog post I wrote two years ago for Stewardship Commitment Sunday at my church. https://alisarussell.wordpress.com/2014/11/02/acting-on-what-i-believe-a-challenge/ It’s actually a perfect post in reaction to today’s devotion (If Not for the Ravens), and if I wanted to, I could leave the link up and end this post here.
I have more to say though, and it relates to a painful part of my own story when the smallest gift wasn’t enough. Before we moved here five years ago, we were not involved in a church. In fact, we spent almost eight years of our lives without a faith family before we started going to the church we go to now. There were many reasons we left the church, some of them very personal. Some involved things that were said about and done to us. Some involved people who thought they were better than us and better than others because they had more money. Some involved people who didn’t take their shepherding responsibilities seriously. And some involved our lack of understanding of what true community was supposed to be. It was a time of pain and hurt in our lives. We said we were still Christians, and we were, but we weren’t living out our faith authentically, and we didn’t have a faith family like we do now.
I bring all this up now because of this morning’s devotion. The author spoke of how God used the raven to feed Elijah in 1 Kings. The raven was not and is still not the most desirable of birds. There were other birds He could have sent, but He chose to send the raven. The author talked about how she believed the raven was chosen to remind us “to trust and to have faith”. That resonated with me. The capital campaign that my church is conducting is about all of us stepping out in faith and asking for God’s will to be done.
I also liked a part of the prayer she wrote which I’m going to quote directly because it reflects a philosophy of this church which I’ve not seen in a long time anywhere else.
“Help us not to discount even the smallest gift of talents or finances, but to consider each one with praises of thanksgiving.”
Every time I hear or read some variation of this, it makes me tear up and praise God that He led us to this place called Crossbridge. They are grateful for even the smallest gift. I get asked sometimes why I’m so grateful. Isn’t every church like this? And my answer to that would be no, every church is not grateful. At our previous two churches, it was whoever gave the most that they expressed gratitude for and gave special privileges to. The ones who had the most money looked down on the ones who didn’t have as much. In every possible way, both verbal and nonverbal, we were labeled as inadequate, and our gifts were pushed aside. The small gifts we gave were labeled as inadequate and not worth anything to God’s work. There’s only so much a person can take within that kind of atmosphere, and we ended up leaving the second church shortly before we moved to a different state.
Looking back, I believe God wept when this happened, but I also know He wasn’t done with us yet, and the plan to bring us to Crossbridge was put into action. Crossbridge is not a perfect place, but it is a place where the smallest gift is appreciated, where all are welcome, and where we are all a family. Not only are we a family inside the church walls; we are also a family outside the church walls which has been proven to us over and over again and which, I believe, is God’s will for His church everywhere.
God’s blessings on all of you today!