Wednesday, May 30, 2007

An Overflow of Thanksgiving

If you have read me long enough, you will have observed that many of my posts seem to take a rather negative tone. Some of this has emerged from various circumstances in my life. Some of this has come from various struggles I have had in entering a new phase of life. Some of this simply comes from living in a hopelessly broken and fallen world (I feel a great need to proclaim this in 21st-century America where we have the ability to pretend that everything is as it should be better than perhaps any other people group that has ever lived - except for perhaps the mid to late 1990's America).

A lot of this negative mood has to do with my blog background being dark. Colors matter.

What's more though, I find it much easier to see and write about life's difficulties and problems. I do not think I stand alone. Enter any workplace in America, and I imagine you would hear some form of complaining within the first eight minutes you stepped in the door.

Fortunately, the story does not end with this darkness. God is good all the time, and all the time God is good. This God in whom I claim to believe consumes all of the ugly realities of life so fully that they no longer have any power. Yet for whatever reason, I have great difficulty expressing the goodness of God. I freely write of sin. I labor to write of glory.

Last week, I wrote of an encounter I had with a woman in Borders who sought to learn more about who God is and if, in fact, he actually is. Here existed a clear and visible moment of God's goodness. I loved the comments that Brad and Jeff posted, both of which expressed part of God's character and responded with worship and praise.

Today I attempt to bring more news of God's goodness, in hope that he may be worshipped again.

I finished up a fundraising phone call last night and had one of those moments where I just become emotionally exhausted and overwhelmed by God. I really cannot describe why or how or even what this looks like. I simply hung up the phone and sat on the floor, marveling at God and not feeling like doing anything else.

In this moment, I reflected on my fundraising efforts so far, and I had to just sit in awe. Check out what has happened in just over two weeks:

-Many people have reorganized their entire budget to make room for me.

-One person agreed to support me even though he/she enters grad school next year and will live off of government loans for years. To put this another way, they are tithing NOT OUT OF THEIR EARNINGS BUT OUT OF THEIR DEBT. Are you kidding me? He/She expressed with a smile his/her desire to see Uncle Sam's money come the way of the kingdom.

-Another person said his/her 10% goes straight to the local church and that I could not touch it. . . . but that they would give above that 10% in order to support me.

-One person seemed genuinely offended that I followed up on my initial letter because it went without saying he/she would help. I wish I could have taped the aggression in his/her voice and bottled the encouragement which it sent my way.

-One family invited me to come on their summer vacation with them.

-Multiple people have bought me meals during a time in which I am hemororhaging money because of gas prices and the necessity of travel for fundraising.

-I received an e-mail from someone last week with whom I had not spoken in three months. They had heard I was raising support for the purpose of spreading the Gospel. Their most striking sentence: "We want to help." I love it when people will listen to me ask. Imagine what it is like to have someone actively pursue giving away their money.

-When I began, my list had 71 "Potential Donors." I have since moved five people to another list entitled "Donors," yet my "Potential Donors" list is now greater than 71. Where have these people come from? I don't know, but I have a hunch. . . .

-Many folks have gone to bat for me to their neighbors and parents, people who do not know me from Adam. I hope that one day, dear reader, you have someone fight for you like this, whether it be in a time of need or in a marriage or just in the day-in day-out routine of life. The feeling is indescribable.

All of this in only two weeks.

I really and truly do not deserve any of this. Just last week, I hit my first burnout moment which comes straight from self-idolatry and a refusal to trust and even believe in God. The need for repentance came quickly in this process. . .

. . . which makes today's need for thanksgiving that much more incredible. One of my go-to verses in this whole process is 2 Cor 9:12 which says that "the rendering of this ministry not only supplies the needs of the saints but also overflows with many thanksgivings to God." I am excited about the responses made by God's people because I want to have shelter next year, and I certainly want to eat food. I really like to eat food.

But even beyond that, I am excited about God's provision in my life because it has forced an overflow of thanksgiving to God. After all, no meal that I eat next year can exceed the moment the Lord provided last night.

5 comments:

His Little Joy said...

I just want to say I'm glad you're going on staff. I found your blog because of Alex Kirk's blog (which I am addicted to) and discovered one day at FD training that a few of us interns were similarly addicted to your blog. We don't know you. But we know you work at Borders and love the Lord and we like to read the things you write about. And when one of the interns said you were trying to go on staff we all got excited. And I have been caught up in my own process of graduation and fundraising lately so I have not read your blog until today. But I'm glad to know you are going on staff, because I think that the Lord has some sweet things in store for you. And it's also encouraging to hear just how much support you've seen so far. Thanks for sharing, and dude, thanks for letting us stalk you all the way out here in the Blueridge region.

J.P. said...

Dude that is SWWEEEEEEET :)

Ben said...

HLJ,

Potentially my all-time favorite comment in the history of RP. . . . which is saying something because I am blessed with very witty, thoughtful readers and commentors. Thanks for the encouragement.

Glad you dropped me a line. No worries on not reading recently, as I have not been very prolific as of late. Life (read: Borders, fundraising, meals) gets in the way of the blogging these days, so I have been forced to cut back, which will probably be the case for the forseeable future.

Are you and any of the Blueridgers coming to ONS in a couple weeks? Send me an e-mail with your name(s) and where y'all are from and we'll meet up. I know two (2) people who are going. That's it. So I'll need friends. I'll be easy to find too - I'll be the guy with the mullet and the mustache.

Thanks for all the encouragement and for hanging in there and reading. Writers love nothing more than readers!

Your bro in Christ,
Ben

P.S. I've said it before and I'll say it again, Alex Kirk is the Oprah of the blogosphere. If you get a recommendation from Piebald Life (http://piebaldlife.blogspot.com/), you go places - even the remotest corners of the Blueridge where IV interns sit around and read blogs all day :)

P.P.S. Just kidding about the mullet and mustache. Only in my dreams. . . .

His Little Joy said...

Whoa the infamous Ben Humphries replied to my comment, wait til I tell the other interns, they'll be so jealous! :0P (I'm pretty sure we all tried to facebook you one day awhile back, haha yes, we're pathetic.) Obviously I'm new to this whole blogging thing because I can't find an email address, but mine is LindsayCPearson@gmail.com Oh, I'm Lindsay by the way.

And I would like to point out that we DO NOT sit around and read blogs all day... only the good ones, and only most of the day. :)

I'm pretty sure all of us will be at ONS, although I should warn you, half of our class is the serious, "IV mold" type, but the other half of us are a little crazy... we'll be easy to spot- breaking rules and laughing way more than even makes sense. My best friend and I have red hair so we automatically stand out. Two red heads who love Jesus? Yes, only in the Blueridge.

I'm good at stalking but I don't know if I know where you are from (besides UNC obv) and where you're going on staff. But just email me or something and we'll be friends so that you can "know" 3 people at ONS. :)

His,
Lindsay

P.s. Mullet and Mustache huh? I guess we can still be friends... I might judge you though. :0P

Ashleigh said...

SO glad the mullet and mustache are not for real!

Alex directed an editor of some sort from studentsoul to my blog the other day, and he wanted me to contact him... but then he disappeared from the face of the earth. Eh, well, we can't all get popular through Alex.