by Jonni Sliver
Over the last three months (yikes! Time goes so quickly!) I have loved visiting AFLC families all over the mid-west. The ideas behind these visits is that I could testify to what God is doing, one young life at a time, in the Miriam Children’s Home and at the same time thank so many loving brothers and sisters who have gone out of their way to bless the children through prayers and gifts. But God always has a better idea than we do and I have received much more than I have given!
During a Sunday morning service in May, in Badger, MN the offering was taken and I joined in as we sang:
“We give Thee but Thine own, whate’er the gift may be: All that we have is Thine alone, a trust, O Lord, from Thee.”
It had been so long since I had sung the offertory that I made a mistake. The last line became:
“All that we have is thine alone, a gift, O Lord, from Thee.”
Oops! The difference between a “trust” and “gift” struck me so strongly. When I receive a gift it is mine and I can do what I want with it. I can choose to give it away, to use it wisely or to lock it away for safe keeping, because it is mine. A trust is different – it doesn’t belong to me, I am holding it for the owner, using as I have been instructed. I don’t have the right to do what I want with it because it isn’t mine.
It starts really early, one of the first words out of our mouths as babies is “MINE!” and we go on thinking that all of life is about what is ours, about what our rights are, all about us. Right now, while I am visiting churches I have been driving a lovely Dodge Grand Caravan, lent to me by World Missions. Can you guess how long it took for me to refer to it as “my car”? It even has a name (Gert – which may be changed by the next driver). As I sang the offertory incorrectly I had a wonderful chance to think about every single thing that really isn’t mine, everything God has allowed me to hold for Him. Life, resources, ministry, they’re His, all His!
I have noticed that the habit of singing the offertory is more common in our smaller, rural churches than it is in the bigger urban areas. I wonder if that might, in part, be because there is something in the rural culture that reminds us every day that everything we have comes by God’s grace. This is an easy year to see it. My heart goes out to the farmers who waited all of last year for the rains to come and waited all this spring for the crops to dry! But every farmer I’ve talked to has said that this is the life of the farmer – they have no control over the rain or the sun or pests that can affect the fields. I think that makes it easier for them to understand their dependence on the Living God who trusts them with His fields!
It is good to be reminded of the basics!