You can't fool God. I know, that's a dumb thing to say. Of course you can't fool God. He is all-knowing and all-powerful. But today, I had an experience first hand that was a reminder of this. God is watching us...but not quite from a distance (sorry, Bette...)
The past few weeks at church, the sermons have been based around the topic of Generosity. [Cue vigorous eye rolling and the-church-is-only-after-your-money mutterings]. I have found the sermons to be very challenging and also enlightening. I don't exactly view myself a stingy person, so initial thoughts before the Generosity series was "Oh ok, I know all this, but good to hear it anyway". Umm, no. Upon close examination I have found that I have a tendency to keep things close. And this is not restricted to finances either.
Example: I hog my time at home. When I come home from work I need me-time. Toddler, go entertain yourself in your room...why else did I buy you all those DVD's? Husband, I don't want to watch your YouTube clips of Samoan slaps and best league tackles. And no, I don't want to watch a movie. Are you serious? I need to work (and then return to my Bejewled game).
I label myself as "antisocial". So when I go to church, I sit at the second to last row on the far left. Well clear of any activity and attention. I don't speak to anyone, unless the pastor says "Say hello to the person on your right", then it's a quick hello, then look at feet and shuffle back to my seat.
So today, we were sitting in our usual spot (far left, second from back row). The nice lady that usually sat behind us wasn't there today. Instead there was a man that I had never seen before. Was he new? I mean, if I was an "established" member of the church, I would know for sure if he was a regular member or not, and was just sitting there because someone had taken his spot on the other side. Oh well, didn't think much of it.
As the service was coming to an end, I heard from God. Not through the pastor or the music team, but he quite clearly said to me "Say hello to the man behind you." WHAT? NO! Even as I was trying to excuse myself out of it, I realised how dumb that was since God was probably listening to my train of thought (and if he was me, cracking up at it). I told myself to calm down, it was probably nothing. I looked behind me and the man looked at me and smiled. I flashed a nervous smile, then bent over and busied myself with picking up Lyla's blocks, paper and crayons from the floor. Ok, that was finished too quickly. At this point, I grabbed Lyla who had fallen asleep during the service, and heaved her onto my shoulder while carrying my bag and her bag. So desperate was I to be "busy" and justify how I could not talk to this man!! Or at least be busy enough until he got up to leave and then I can be like "Oh darn, I was just about to say hi to him, but he's gone."
I heard it again. God saying - "Say hello to the man". OMG (ha!) ... sssshhhhhh!!!! Keep it down, what if that man can hear you?? Hubby stood up and looked behind us. At this point I thought - "Oh thank goodness, he will say hello". He smiled at the man, said "Hello", then started walking out the door. I automatically followed him (laden with bags and baby).
I walked past the man and I could hear in my head (this time it was clearly my voice and not God's) "Coward. You ask for God to speak to you, and what do you do with what he tells you? What are you scared of? Where is your faith? With what measure are you giving?" etc etc. I'm pretty harsh on myself usually, but this time...the burden. With each step I knew in my heart I was disobeying God, and it was HARD.
By now I was behind the man. He was still sitting, at the end of the last row. I tapped him on the arm, he turned and I said "Hello, my name is Sina. I haven't seen you before...is this your first time?" I know, it's not the supernatural awesome words of wisdom you were expecting, but that's what I said. He stood up, smiled, and started talking. And from there it was easy. We chatted for quite a while, about me, about him, about this church, about Wellington. I could feel a genuine sense of gratitude from the man that someone had talked to him on his first day to church. What did I feel? Apart from relief :) I felt ... peace. No more battle in my head, fighting God, and trying to fool him. Lol. Seems silly now, but what an experience. Baby steps to generosity!
Luke 6:38 "For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you".