To begin, I have to say, that this is not actually from or about me. If at any point you get distracted and put a little halo or think anything negatively please just exit this blog. This story is about being obedient to Christ. I know I am supposed to share this with you. I also know you may not have this same call, but I pray that God uses this blog post to encourage you to be obedient and to give sacrificially in Jesus name.
Also, it is long, but I don't think anyone will be inviting me to write book anytime soon, so, I'm squeezing all the thoughts and struggles of a year in one blog.
This past summer my husband and I went on a mission trip to El Salvador with some friends of ours, the Empty Buckets. We went to dig a well with Living Water International.
One day I was searching on LWI's website and I saw a link to a website called WithThisRing.org. It is a website dedicated to spreading the love of Christ to the ends of the earth. People can donate their wedding rings or other jewelry to be auctioned off on WTR's website. The money is used to dig clean water wells in third world nations.
Right away God opened my heart and my eyes to know that this was a possibility for me. It was and opportunity God was handing me to live out my faith.
My husband and fellow Empty Buckets had been challenging each other and have been being challenged through scripture to be open to opportunities to give sacrificially. Also to simplify and to really live out loud what Christ has done and is doing in our lives and to share what he has blessed us with.
Being a stay at home mom, with no independent income, sometimes I don't really feel like I can give sacrificially. I do give of my time and possessions, but this really felt like a great opportunity. It felt like the Holy Spirit was saying, well.... If you really mean what you say, you DO have something YOU can give, if you are for real.
Honestly, it was quite a while before I told my husband about it. He was, as I knew he would be, very supportive and cooperative to the idea. As I said, we had been studying about radical giving together in our life group for a while. It has been in our hearts and in our minds for some time, that idea of radical giving. By the time I told him about it I was certain I wanted to donate my ring I just needed to know he was on board and would get me some other sort of wedding ring because I still wanted to look married of course.
I was thinking just a small simple silver band. One day while I was in the shower, the only place a mother can be quiet and think sometimes. It was almost like I got hit on the head with a moment of clarity from the Holy Spirit. Clear as day, and I have to tell you, most thoughts I have are foggy. I knew that I didn't need just any simple band, I needed a cross. Because it isn't about me AT ALL. It is about CHRIST. I knew I needed a reminder of why I donated my wedding ring. I donated it to further the gospel and to sacrifice for Christ's cause. I donated it because having clean water saves lives in Jesus name, and through that clean water lives will be changed and souls will be saved. So, I hopped out of the shower and told E.J. immediately.
Remember how I said I needed to be sure, before I told E.J. Well, I have to tell you, I had honestly gotten to the point where I really felt like I would be being disobedient if I didn't donate it. I knew the opportunity was from Christ and I knew I was meant to take it.
It is AMAZING how God can change your heart! I'm not a total diamond hating monster, well to be honest, I almost am, but we'll get to that.
I remember not long after my husband and I started dating, we knew we were meant to be spend our lives together. We were shopping for an engagement ring and I picked out a descent sized gold sparkly diamond ring that I thought was a little over the top, but not outrageous. To be honest, he had been engaged before and for some reason, I knew how much he had spent, so I picked out a ring that I felt wasn't totally out of his range.
A few months later, we got engaged. I remember to this day, that night I woke up in the middle of the night and looked at my hand to be sure that ring was really on my hand and I was really engaged. I truly felt like a princess.
I was thrilled to have found the love of my life, and that ring meant to me that E.J. promised to love me forever. It put a certain value on our love, and I guess it felt like it put a certain value on me as a person too.
After I heard about With This Ring. I started thinking clearer and clearer. The well it self, that we dug in El Salvador cost $5,000. FIVE THOUSAND DOLLARS to give life saving, life changing clean water to sick dying people. Fourteen years ago, my ring cost about $2,000. I have no idea yet what WTR will get for my ring, but I know that it will go to Living Water International and as far as I can tell it is certainly a God blessed organization, and I was starting to consider the alternative.
The alternative seemed to be such a waste. Let's say I keep my ring and I die today or in 30 years. What will happen to my wedding ring? Someone will probably keep it and put it in a box somewhere. Best case scenario, when they come across it they have fond loving thoughts of me and are comforted by it.
I began to clearly feel like I had been given a gift. I had been set free from and earthly trap, a weight had been lifted off of my soul. I believe all that I have is Christ's. I want to personally sacrifice for the cause of the gospel and I have a descent amount of money sitting on my finger. Money which will probably be buried in the ground or thrown in a drawer somewhere. What a WASTE. I got that guilty feeling in my gut and I knew God had better plans for that money.
I seriously wasn't going to tell anyone, except my husband, I especially was not going to blog about it. Slowly God has revealed to me that he didn't want me to be obedient in secret.
First I told my mother, because her ring finger hurt and it was weird that sometimes mine did too. I was thinking that maybe mine just hurt because God was gently reminding me that I had unfinished business. I still had not donated my ring. She was supportive but was thinking maybe we both had arthritis in our fingers, so she bought us magnetic rings. I lost mine in El Salvador.
Just before Christmas I had finally found the perfect silver cross ring, so E.J. went with me to order it. It was $35 and I was in love. I was so excited to pick it up in a few weeks.
I still was content to keep my secret the night I picked it up. We went to our small group from church where we were studying a book on sacrificial giving actually, called "The Treasure Principle". Someone closed in prayer that night and said some things about how giving is not about us but a reflection of Christ in us. The Holy Spirit almost nudged me off the couch. It became very clear to me that I was supposed to be a real life example of what we were studying. It wasn't just ironic that my ring was ready to be picked up on small group night, and that we happened to be studying about the topic of radical giving. The second whomever stopped praying, I quickly shared a tad bit of what God was doing in my heart.
A few days later having told no one else, but recalling telling our small group about the rings, I was just listening to the music on my phone through my car on shuffle. Just thinking about all sorts of things and wondering what God might have in store. A song came on called "Pass It on". Some of the lyrics are, "it only takes a spark to get a fire going, and soon all those around can warm up to its glowing. That's how it is God's love, once you've experienced it. You spread his love, to everyone, you want to pass it on."
To me that meant God did not want me to be silent. I was supposed to pass it on, set the spark and he will keep the fire going. He has for centuries now and now is not a time to be silent. Christ is real and working in lives, he just wants us as Christians to be obedient.
Since I feel like I cannot clearly put two thoughts together, I have been writing this in my head since.
Last month, as I thought about Valentines Day. I was thinking about how I am such a sucker for love. I love love, and weddings and especially HUGE GESTURES of love.
It occurred to me that a wedding or engagement ring is sometimes one of the only huge gestures of love women sometimes get from their husbands, especially once they are married.
BUT if spending a few hundred or a few thousand dollars on a diamond ring is a huge gesture, then how much more of a gesture of love is GOD sending HIS ONLY SON TO DIE ON A CROSS for our SINS?!?! THAT'S HUGE! I am thrilled to look down at my ring finger and be reminded of that every day!
I am now just dreaming of a day where Christian women can feel secure in their marriages in Christ and stand up to our culture and let them know that we know better. (insert growing hate for diamonds). So much money is spent on diamonds, money that could be spent on children, children sick and dying of thirst, literally and spiritually.
Here's the thing. Materialism, of all kinds is a trap. It is also commonly accepted in Christian communities. The size of diamonds and rings in the Christian church is literally nauseating. I get that God has blessed them, and that's wonderful, but I don't think the idea was to bless people so they could spend money on shiny rocks that some how put a value on the women or their marriages or how much someone is loved. Some how those shiny rocks get us girls EVERY time!!!!
I know a lot of people recently married or getting married and I am not suggesting every one gets rid of their diamonds. I am not actually saying anything, it's just what God is prompting me to be obedient to. BUT I am praying for a movement or revolution of marriages. We need it don't we. I don't want to get into legal issues of marriage, I do not believe we need the government to be our moral compass. BUT I do believe if we as Christians want to have successful marriages we need to start with and keep CHRIST first. What if when a Christian got engaged they set aside a certain amount of money to give to some Christian organization. Living Water International puts a plaque on each clean water well. It could even have the couples name on it. Celebrating love can happen all sorts of ways, why not start with a commitment to love others, the way that we have been loved in the name of Christ. Why not celebrate what love can really do? It can literally save lives. God's love can save us from an eternity in hell apart from him.
There are plenty of stay at home moms feeling like they want to give sacrificially and just don't have much to give, financially or other wise. This whole wedding ring thing, really turned out to be a reminder of what GOD really wants from us, our HEARTS.
I pray that he has yours.
PEACE and LOVE friends. <3 LSL