Tasha and I recently moved home to Louisiana. After serving in Maryland and Ohio for the past 12 years, we sensed God was leading us to work with students at the Vineyard Church in New Orleans.
The transition has been hard, but not surprisingly, God has been faithful.
We bought a house in a smaller town just on the outskirts of New Orleans. The house is almost 70 years old and is every bit a “fixer-upper.” One of the first things we are “fixing up” is the kitchen, and the first thing we wanted to buy was a new range. The old one was broken, nasty, and smelled like beef and cheese.
As is our process, we checked Craigslist. After striking out on a few potentials, we saw an ad for a 36-inch six-burner Premiere Pro for $350. (I love to cook; and for those of you who don’t know, this is a beautiful beast of a machine for a steal-of-a-price.) We called. It was still available, so we borrowed my brother’s trailer and made the 40 minute drive to the owner’s home.
The owner met us at his door with a smile and a handshake. After showing us the range and all of its features, we agreed to make the purchase. As we were finalizing the deal and handing over the cash, we continued to chat. We learned that Chris – the owner – was a former missionary in South America. He and his team would partner with local governments to build feeding stations in some of the poorer areas of some of the poorer countries. His eyes lit up as he shared some of his story. We asked lots of questions, eventually asking him if he was connected with a local church. His eyes became sad as he shared how he’d been deeply hurt by the pastor of his church, and he quietly said that he hadn’t come to a place of connecting with another.
Tasha and I sensed a connection with Chris, so we continued to talk about things, and we asked him if he and his family would like to share a meal with us once we get the new range set up. He accepted, and we left his house feeling like God had blessed us with a great range for a great price, and more importantly, a potential new friend.
As we were leaving Chris’ neighborhood, he called and said we needed to turn around – that we had forgotten something at his house. We made the block and headed back to his house, and again Chris met us with a smile and a handshake. But in his hand was the $350. Tasha and I graciously declined his generosity, thanking him for the offer. He said, “God is a good giver. You can’t be a good giver unless you’re also a good receiver. Receive this gift and be blessed.”
We drove away, teary-eyed, with hearts full.
Tasha and I are not poor. Our church provides us a healthy salary, we do some additional side jobs, and we try to live within our means. At this stage in our lives, $350 is not life-changing money, but this was a life-changing gift.
The impact of Chris’ gift to us was priceless. There’s no way for Chris to know this, but at a time in our lives when Tasha and I were feeling unsettled, overwhelmed, and scattered, God used Chris’ incredible generosity to remind us that he loves us, he is with us, and that he will always provide for us.
Whether you’re on the giving or receiving end of God’s blessings this season, remember that regardless of the amount, your giving and receiving is part of God’s ongoing story of love for all people. So live generously, friends.
-Tim and Tasha Levert