by Suan Lee Campbell
It’s embarrassing for me to share this story but my colleagues think I should write it up because it shows the generosity of giving, which reflects Christ’s free gift on the cross. It also shows how difficult it can be to be a recipient of another’s generosity due to self-sufficiency and pride. This incident has taught me the timeliness of God when He interrupts my daily life to teach me a good lesson.
I was feeling a little blue and lost that day because I was not sure what to do next in ministry. I wandered into an Opportunity shop for some shopping therapy and found a pair of red slippers for $4. I thought it was too much and proceeded to negotiate it for $3 (I know it sounds really scroogey and embarrassing for me right now.) The shop manager would not budge so I stood there ‘umming and ahhing’ looking at the slippers.
All of a sudden, a loud voice from behind me said, ‘Do you know who she is? She is Suan Lee. She has the biggest heart for the community. She saved my life last year, helped me find a place to stay after the local council kicked me out from the camping site.’
Sandy, a homeless person I knew continued her glowing endorsement…’ I want to pay for you because I’ve been thinking about what you did for me and how I can thank you. Your husband and son have been kind to me too- getting the trailer to take my stuff.’
I stammered, ‘Sandy, thank you very much but there’s really no need to thank me. I can pay for it myself.’
‘No, I want to pay for you. It’s my way of thanking you.’
The store manager nudged me and said, ‘well then $3 will do. Let her thank you.’ I felt the heat spread from my face downwards as I thanked Sandy profusely. She took out some gold coins, placed them on the counter and said, ‘and here’s a $1 tip for the good work you’re doing.’
I just wanted the floor to swallow me up at that point. ‘Thank you again, Sandy, I’m so embarrassed, I don’t know what to say.’
She replied, ‘now you know how I feel!’
Wow! I walked out of the shop in my red slippers overwhelmed and unsure of what just took place in those few minutes. Lord, what is it that you’re showing me?
As I type this, I can feel the egg on my face all over again, but it’s a good egg that teaches a lesson. Sandy reminds me of the widow’s mite story in the Bible. Her poverty did not stop her from giving generously. She showed me that I have been judging others by looking on the outside and limiting them from giving because I think I have more capacity and resources than them. But, the opportunities to serve and give are a blessing and privilege I need to extend to all, even to the poor and marginalised in our community. I am asking them to give to Jesus and His mission, not to me. I often ask those who ‘have’ to be ministry partners and volunteers but I now realise the ‘have nots’ have the same heart for giving and deserve the blessing of being given these opportunities.
Like me, Sandy has her pride in accepting handouts. I’ve been insensitive many times when giving, assuming the recipients will feel thankful and grateful rather than embarrassed.
I see now that giving and receiving is to the Lord and it requires humility. It’s not about our sufficiency or ability. I’m so thankful that Jesus has modelled the best example of giving even to the cross and by receiving Him we can enjoy Him forever.
I also learnt that I like bargaining and that I’m a scrooge.