Today I was listening to a CD from the Pineapple Story collection by missionary Otto Koning. You can get this from the Institute in Basic Life Principles, and I encourage you to, because it is really good! Funny, inspiring, humbling, all at the same time. He was the telling the story of a widow lady who, like most widows, had almost no money. The was a housekeeper and made 4 or 5 thousand a year, and she had children. She wanted to give money to a particular missionary, and so she told the Lord that anything she made over her basic needs, she would give to the missionary.
The next day, as she was cleaning the house, the man of the house left for work, and on his way out the door, she told him she would be praying for him as she cleaned his house, that the Lord would bless his business. He kind of grinned at her and just left. Well, he had an AMAZING day at work that day, and he asked if she had indeed prayed for him, and she told him she had. He ended up giving her a raise. She did this with all her customers, and the same thing kept happening. The extra money she got, she gave to the missionary. One of the men noticed she was always wearing the same old black coat, and he gave her money, and told her to go buy a new coat. She thought, "This coat is just fine, and I don't need two coats, " so she gave that money to the missionary as well. Before long, he realized that the lady never bought a new coat, so he thought, "Man, she must really be poor and using that money to buy food for her family instead of for a coat," so at the grocery store, he told the grocer to put all her purchases on his bill. How surprised she was to find out that everytime she went to the store, she owed nothing! So, she was able to buy better, more nutritious food for her family, and give her food budget to the missionary.
Soon, other customers were doing similar things. Her rent was paid for the year, her utilities paid, people were even sending delivery trucks with new mattresses and furniture for her house. She had just kept the same old ones because new ones weren't a need, and she had promised the Lord to give it to the missionary. So, not only was she able to give her entire income to the missionary, but the Lord was providing new things for her, as well.
When the missionary came home on furlough and visited the church, he asked to see the wealthy family who had been giving him large sums of money every month. The pastor told him there was no such wealthy family at his church. The missionary told him the widow lady's name, and the pastor was astonished! "That can't be her", he said, "she just a widow lady receiving from the church's benevolence fund." Little did he know that the church's benevolence fund was going to the missionary, too! As it turns out, she was giving 5 TIMES her annual salary to the missionary, and all her needs were met! Keep in mind, she had been given raises as well, so she was giving incredible amounts of money!
Otto Koning was trying to point out what God can do through us, if we yield ourselves (and our money) to God. He also challenged everyone to keep their same possessions for a year (furniture, clothes, cars, houses - or move to a smaller one), and give that money to God. Wow! What a story! Do I have the guts to do what that widow lady did?