It was November of 2012, and my future wife and I had just returned from a mission trip to Zimbabwe. I was walking through the halls at work, and as I passed through the lunch room I saw our cleaning lady, Miss Carolyn, walking towards me. She is the sweetest woman, but, up until that point, I hadn’t spoken to her very much. We would usually just give each other a smile and a very pleasant hello whenever we passed in the halls. This time she didn’t just smile and say hello, but she approached me with an envelope in her hand.
As Miss Carolyn placed that envelope in my hand, she explained that she had heard about my recent trip and she wanted to support the mission. After I gave her a big hug, I assured Miss Carolyn that I would accept this money with a heavy sense of responsibility to use it in the most productive way possible for the advancement of God’s kingdom. I don’t know if I have ever experienced as great a sense of humility as I did in that moment.
As I walked back towards my desk, I looked down at the envelope. Written on the outside of it was something derived from Matthew 25: 40, which read, “Whatever you do for one of these little ones you do unto me.” Then I opened the envelope to find $100 in cash. I knew right away that this was God’s way of telling me that another trip was in my future, but at that time I had no idea what He had in mind. I went home and I pinned the envelope with the money still in it to a board hanging in my room. I prayed and asked that God would show me the appropriate time to sow that money.
Fast forward about a year later. The money was still pinned to the board in my room. I looked at it frequently and wondered what God had in store. Then I receive an email from the One Child Matters organization. The email explained that they were organizing a group to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro in order to raise money for the children within their projects in Africa. It’s hard to explain, but let’s just say upon opening the email and reading it I knew this was something God wanted me to consider doing. He had carefully scripted a series of events that made it very obvious He was calling my wife and I to go on this journey.
As we investigated the details, we realized that between the trip, the equipment, and the money needed to sponsor the two children we would climb for, it was going to be somewhere in the neighborhood of $25,000 for us to participate. Kilimanjaro was not a bucket list thing for either one of us. I am more of a hang out near the beach and do some fishing type of guy. It was going to be over two weeks of vacation time that we could have spent doing other things we wanted to do. We were petrified when we sent in the registration paperwork saying we wanted to go, and even more petrified when we were accepted and sent in the first deposit check. We thought, “How in the world are we going to come up with all of the funds to support these kids? We have never been able to raise that kind of money before.” Our faith had not reached the size of a mustard seed just yet.
Before we sent out the first letter, or posted our first Facebook post asking for donations, we pulled down the envelope from Miss Carolyn. We took out the $100, and submitted it as the first donation towards the two children we were climbing for. That money reminded us that over a year before we decided to go on this trip, God had already gone ahead of us to provide everything we needed to be successful. That money helped us to muster up just enough faith to believe that God would actually provide the entire amount for those two precious children. I am so thankful that I can stand here today and say that not only did God provide all that we needed, but He provided more. The two kids were fully sponsored, and more money was provided to help other children as well.
On one of our last nights in Tanzania, one of our trip leaders was sharing an encouraging word with the team. He spoke about how Jesus would frequently identify the one person among large groups of people who needed His help. In order to clarify his point, this man turned to Matthew 25. The word that he shared with us was, “The King will reply, ’Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.” God began our journey to Mt. Kilimanjaro and ended it with the same message from the exact same scripture. How awesome and amazing is our Heavenly Father!?
Now, as I sit here in the present, I have had some time to reflect on what God is trying to teach us. I gained a deeper understanding recently as I listened to our pastor teach the past few weeks on the laws of sowing and reaping. One of the lessons he explained was that a seed doesn’t just produce another seed, but it produces a tree. That tree, in turn, produced countless more seeds than the one that was originally planted. Miss Carolyn may have planted a single seed, but God turned that seed into a tree and multiplied it in ways that no human being can fully comprehend. Every child that we were able to hug in Africa was a result of that one seed. When the two children we were able to sponsor turn around and show God’s love and compassion to others in their sphere of influence, it will be the fruit produced by that one single seed of love planted by Miss Carolyn.
As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. – Isaiah 55:9
Personally, I tend to spend way too much time asking God why, instead of just doing what he asks me to do. In my limited understanding, I cannot see what He has planned, so I tend to focus on the circumstances in front of me that I can see. For example, If He asks me to give money to a person or a cause, I may not be able to see all the good fruit that money will produce in the future. I can, however, clearly see what giving up that money will keep me from being able to purchase in the here and now. I don’t know what God is calling you to sow today. Maybe it’s finances, maybe it’s time to serve, maybe it’s to set aside some Sabbath time for yourself, or maybe it’s to put aside your own will and submit your life to Him once and for all. Whatever it is, God has some news for us. He knows better than we do! We can trust him! With our tiny seeds of obedience, God can produce everlasting trees full of life giving fruit.
Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out! Who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has been his counselor? – Romans 11: 33-34