In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how He himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’” Acts 20:35
Sometimes around Paul I feel like that young man named Eutychus, sitting at the window, who sank into a deep sleep as Paul talked still longer, and being overcome by sleep, he fell down from the third story and was taken up dead. Sometimes I feel like Paul’s words and sentences go around and around and I can’t really make heads or tails of them, like what is the point, and what really do these big fancy theology words mean in real life? And sometimes, like for instance the entirety of 2 Corinthians, Paul goes on and on about all that he is and all that he has done, and I sorta wish that I could fall out of the window as well.
But then I look between the lines and see an offering poured out. Up early, down late, making tents to support himself and his friends. I bet tentmaking is long hours scrunched over tough fabric and involves lots of poking and stabbing and other uncomfortable tasks. And other than I wince a bit when people stress how humble they are because doesn’t that sort of negate the deed, he did indeed spend a lot of time encouraging and crying (lots of tears) and praying and kneeling and kissing, so there you have it. And when it was all said and done, Paul was able to sum it up with “It is more blessed to give than to receive.”
And I just left old Mike Birrer sitting on the white wall bench down at the Vineyard. Mike with his prayer sheets and sweet breads and orange juice and sunscreen, all set for a day of prayer. Another in a long line of days of prayer, and fence building and meetings with principals and student council advisors and janitors and gathering heavy boxes of food and carrying around extra tools in the back of his pickup truck just in case anyone needs them and walking around and around and around; I bet that guy knows every trash can in every alley for a five mile radius he has walked around so much praying for the city. As I left him sitting there all by himself under the olive trees, I thanked him for his faithfulness. And he said, “It is my joy, it is my joy.”
And I believe him.