Eight cents. Let’s just get that out of the way right now. I’m writing this with eight cents in my account. I could go digging in the snow for unknown hidden treasure, but I would rather write this.
It’s the fourth day of the year now. Did you make resolutions? Goals? Great. How are they going? Would you like to change your life? I can help, but…don’t do it.
Are you sure? Really? Reeeeeeally?
I can tell you what happened to me, but the process is hard to recommend. I don’t remember when it was, but I know where I was. All that I did was pray, “God, help me to love more deeply.” That’s it. God has been answering that prayer ever since, and he started that very night.
That prayer was uttered around 6pm on a Friday night after I had listened, in a pastoral role, to a young lady who felt defeated by circumstances. Before that night ended I was literally chasing after that young lady in the streets. She had tried to run away from her circumstances, and I had a sense of where she might go. I had prayed for my fruit to grow. Love is within the fruit of the Spirit. If you want to bear better fruit, God will help you grow deeper roots. It really is that simple.
Have you ever prayed for patience? If you haven’t, don’t. Or at least be prepared when you do. I firmly believe that all facets of the fruit of the Holy Spirit follow this rule: Love, joy peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. It’s not as simple as going through the mess (where roots can grow), because we all know people who have been broken by horrific pain and suffering. The fruit comes when God works in mysterious, unseen, and amazing ways in the deepest parts of our stories. If you pray for patience, I assure you that you will experience circumstances that will help you bear better patience fruit. I just happened to pray for deep love before I truly realized how this works.
It’s incredibly humbling to know the stories that I know, to hear the depth of things I am entrusted to hear. I can no longer imagine it any other way. It has reached the point where my mother now calls to ask, “Whose child was that that you were holding?” Depends on the day, mom. There are so many incredible details that I hear and am invited into that I never share because the stories aren’t mine to give. I have a vision to help them share their own stories, and I think that will come, but right now I feel like a pastor of an unorganized church and a walking deacon’s fund.
“Doug, you can’t keep doing this by yourself.” You are absolutely correct. I cannot. I never have done this by myself. But if you want to point out that it’s not okay to have no job, no idea of a source of income, and have eight cents in the middle of winter, I know. I’ve been here before. More times than I can count. God has never failed me once. You know and I know that God will never fail me.
Today, thanks to a gift from a friend, I was able to share with a young man who can start a job tomorrow after he spent several months in jail. Tonight, of what I had left, I was able to share with a dear friend who had not eaten all day. Both of them, when I explained that I had no more to give, apologized. They tried to refuse the help. My answer was the same both times: you need it, and God will work it out. He always does. If I shared my shortcomings with those who need help, as I’m doing here, they would stop asking me for help.
We underestimate the strength that is necessary to ask for help and admit our shortcomings. If you are a person who has struggled and been let down again and again, it takes tremendous courage to ask someone for help. Most of the people who share their struggle with me are those whom I have known for years. It takes time to earn a position of trust with people who have been hurt. As I said above, it’s remarkably humbling.
I’m also acutely aware of a huge difference between me and most of those who ask: I am a white male with a college degree, a supportive family, and a network of friends. My struggle will never be attributed to who I am as a person. It is one thing to struggle with a safety net, quite another to make a go of it without one. It’s not as stressful for me to sit with eight cents in my account as for many others. And even still, I don’t like asking for help. It’s embarrassing, no matter how many times I have had to do it, and no matter how many times that the answer is “yes.” The senior quote for me in the yearbook was that I would own a Lexus by the time I was 30 years old.
Oh, young Douglas. Tomorrow I will wonder if I have enough gas to bring my son to his practice and back. We’ll be fine. Tonight I was bothered that my youngest son had no orange juice for his nightly routine. He’ll be fine. Tomorrow morning I expect a text from someone who needs help to get to work and I’ll be sad if I cannot help. But being sad is not the same as someone missing work when they desperately need the income.
I cannot entirely explain it, but the unorganized church has always appealed to me more than the organized church. I feel more comfortable in my purpose with the sheep in the wild, but those sheep are hungry and they can’t pay me a salary.
If you are in a position to give, I am willing to receive. It doesn’t even have to be money even though that’s the most immediate and obvious need. The people who share with me need far more than money, but that is certainly pressing. They need people who will leave the comfort of the pasture in order to walk with them. If you aren’t sure how you will get there, try that prayer:
“God, help me to love more deeply.”
Before you know it, you might be running into the wilderness, and God will be with you every step of the way.
If you would like to give in a financial way, thank you. My CashApp ID is $DouglasRoede or you can use my phone number of 6162092446. PayPal is firstname.lastname@example.org. Both of those allow you to send without fees. I would pass a collection plate, but this is what I have.
I’ll be bold and let you know that $5,000 would let me feed the sheep and pacify the wolves (bills, I have those too). With $40,000 I could accomplish what I need for this year while also developing this unorganized church I’ve found. Do I expect to wake up to that tomorrow? No. I ask God for my daily bread, and He always provides. Writing that is just a small step for me to acknowledge what God is doing. Five years ago I acknowledged my role as a pastor. God already had designs for where He would lead me, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.