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The $20 Challenge

This past Sunday, my church pastor presented some of us in the congregation with an interesting challenge.

First, he asked for 25 volunteers to help with an upcoming back-to-school carnival for the kids. When he got his 25 volunteers (of which I was one), he presented each of us with an envelope. Inside each envelope was a $20 bill.

Then he informed us that this was about more than just pitching in for the carnival. He said that the money had been provided by an anonymous donor, who intended for each of us to pass it on to someone else.

And that, I must say, is an interesting concept in itself – charity offered strategically to inspire charity in others and involve them in the process. I guess the idea is to jump-start people’s generosity in hopes they will get a taste for it and develop the good habit of giving. That’s an idea with vast possibilities, in my opinion.

But, anyway, Pastor J challenged us to keep an eye out, our radar turned on, and to try to listen to God as to who He wants us to gift with the 20 bucks.

And he cautioned us not to make a big show out of it or bombard anyone with a bunch of religious stuff. Just give the money to who we think we’re supposed to give it to and move on with our lives – and leave it up to God to do His thing from there.

And, for me, this little exercise raises a couple of interesting and important questions.

Would God actually involve Himself in something like this and use it to benefit both the recipient and the giver?

I believe He would – that is if we’re willing to be obedient and to see and think beyond ourselves.

Does God communicate with people in ways that are specific enough to direct us to a particular person He intends for us to help?

Again, I believe that He does. But as to exactly how He chooses to communicate with us … well, that’s really up to Him. And trying to explain precisely how God goes about speaking to the hearts and minds of human beings is a bit beyond my pay grade.

But I think our part involves focusing our hearts and minds on Him and then keeping our eyes and ears open for situations He might be orchestrating.

Then, of course, it requires stepping up and taking action – even when we’re not 100 percent sure we’re doing the right thing. It can be hit and miss, and we don’t always get to see clear, indisputable evidence that our arrows have hit the mark (figuratively speaking).

Frustrating as that can be, I guess it’s just part of what living in faith is about.

But, for the time being, I’ve got a $20 bill burning a hole in my pocket and a mission to find it a home.

And beyond the whole $20 thing (which was never my money in the first first place), maybe, just maybe, I’ll learn a little something about listening to God, breaking out of this self-absorbed bubble I walk around in most of the time, and seeing my life more as an opportunity to serve both others and the One who made me.

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