Sharper focus- ‘Giving it up’
Linda Manhardt, Major
During the Lenten time leading up to Easter, I’ve come across many friends on Facebook who are “giving up” things for Lent. One is giving up chocolate. Another, Starbucks. For some, it is desserts in general.
Here at the training college in the Philippines, the cadets have given up afternoon snacks, adding what would have been spent toward our self-denial target. All around me, because of the time of year, people are giving things up.
One outcome of the field training team ministry at the college was the establishment of four outreaches in the area surrounding us. Close to 400 people attend the meetings—it is an exciting time. Many have met the Lord and are now in soldiership or junior soldier preparation classes. We offer Bible studies, prayer meetings, Sunday school, timbrels, youth meetings, Home League, etc. We’re growing an Army!
Recently, at the first Holiness meeting conducted in the front yard of a member of the Batak Outreach, I had the pleasure of sitting behind a little boy, around 4 years old, and his mother.
About halfway through the meeting, a street vendor came by, selling palamig, which is a drink made from ice, milk, sugar and fruit flavor. The children love it; it is refreshing in this hot, humid climate.
A little boy and his sister sat beside me. They got the necessary five pesos (about 10 cents) from their grandmother and returned to their chairs with frosty pink drinks.
The little guy in front of me turned around and looked longingly at them. He watched as they sipped away. He didn’t ask his mother for one, and he wasn’t upset. He just watched.
I couldn’t help it. I found a coin in my pocket and gave it to him. His eyes widened and he gave me a huge smile. He turned around and happily showed his mother the coin. We were in the middle of the meeting, and I can’t speak Filipino, so I was unable to tell him to buy a drink with it. But his joy showed me that he got the message.
It would seem that I gave him the coin at the precise moment that the offering time was beginning. Without hesitation, he jumped from his chair and dropped his coin in the offering bag. He returned to his seat, with the same big smile. I was frustrated at not being able to communicate. I wanted him to have a treat now more than before.
I fished through my purse and was able to find another five pesos. This time, I gave him five one peso coins.
The scene almost repeated itself. He jumped out of his seat and ran to the improvised Holiness table to lay his five pesos down. Without thinking, I quickly came after him and picked up the coins. I gave them back and pointed to the children behind him, making some ridiculous signs as I tried to communicate that the coins were for him to buy a yummy drink like his friends had. He nodded and smiled and remained in his seat for the remainder of the meeting.
I never saw if he purchased the sweet palamig after the meeting or not. My guess is that the vendor was long gone by the time we finished.
As I reflect on this little guy, I am struck by his heartfelt desire to “give it up.” No one told him to. He gave without thought or hesitation. It was his sincere pleasure to have something to give to God, and he delighted in the giving.
Let us follow the example of this small, spontaneous boy and not think in terms of “denying ourselves.” Instead, let us live lives that are a moment-by-moment sacrament of giving it up—whatever that may mean.
Let us take simple delight in our living and our giving.