I work at a coffee shop and a clothing boutique and sometimes I write for LifeWay. As you can imagine, none of those jobs are bringing in heaps of cash, but still I try to save a bit of money from every paycheck, hoping it will steadily grow and one day fund another EP. I have actually eaten oatmeal for nine meals in a row in order to avoid taking money out of that account because it’s been a year since I’ve recorded anything new and I’m itching to create more songs.
But recently I’ve had this strange feeling that God is pulling me into deeper waters requiring greater levels of trust, especially when it comes to money. It’s funny, really, because I don’t have much of it, yet I find that my heart is captivated by the false sense of security and safety and control each dollar bill promises. I tithe, but I don’t often give sacrificially. And if I’m honest there aren’t many things I’d like to do that I can’t do because I’ve given away too much money. When I look at the life of Jesus, though, and the lives of His disciples, I see radical, sacrificial giving. Not safe giving or manageable giving or acceptable giving but sacrificial giving— of their resources, their attention, their love, their lives.
Last night I read this post by an author I follow named Ann Voskamp. She talked about her recent trip to Iraq and described the devastating, gut-wrenching, urgent reality our sisters and brothers are living in. Nine-year-old girls are being sold to members of ISIS like cattle. They are being raped, beaten, and executed. They are being treated in ways we wouldn’t dare treat a dog.
As I was reading Ann’s stories, I felt my heart throbbing in my chest. These are real women. I tried to put myself in their shoes: helpless, voiceless, and in desperate need of outside intervention. These people are my family, my responsibility. When Jesus commissioned me to advance His Kingdom to the ends of the earth, He commissioned me to bring His Kingdom to Iraq. To push back evil. To stop the terrorism and abuse of women. To fight for justice and peace and love.
This is my sole mission, yet my life is overrun with excuses.
I’m sorry I can’t help you right now, but I am saving to record a new EP.
I am renovating my kitchen because my counters are old fashioned.
Our church really needs a bigger sanctuary and more comfortable chairs.
My kids don’t have enough toys.
I need a better car,
a better computer,
a better outfit,
a better phone,
a better house.
I can’t give to you because you aren’t the priority. I am.
Please know this isn’t a guilt trip. It is a reality check. It is a plead for you (and me) to consider the things we prioritize while thousands of our brothers and sisters are being slaughtered around the world, terrorized for the sake of the Gospel, dehumanized in unthinkable ways. Let us not forget the day we will stand before God and give an account for our lives: for every word, every dollar. Let us not waste our time and resources, padding our days with luxury and living in damning oblivion to the rest of the world. Let us instead give sacrificially. Let us fulfill the mission to which God has called us. Let us bring His Kingdom further. Let us lay down our lives for the sake of the world and the glory of God.
I beg you to read these stories from Ann and give to Preemptive Love Coalition, an organization that is working to defy ISIS by empowering women and children through business and education. I plead with you to consider your responsibility as a follower of Christ to help. Your responsibility to love. Your responsibility to care.
“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left. Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’
“Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ Then they also will answer, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?’ Then he will answer them, saying, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’ And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”