It caught me by surprise, somewhere on Valleydale Road. The girls and I had been listening to On the Banks of Plum Creek by Laura Ingalls Wilder. Ma had just sent Pa into town to buy some new boots. His old boots were worn thin and falling apart. But on his way to buy the boots, he ran into the preacher: would Charles Ingalls be willing to contribute to the fund to buy a new church bell? Everyone in town had given all they could, but they still lacked three dollars. Of course Pa gives him the money, his last three dollars. So Pa came home without his boots, having given all to the church.
He didn’t seem to mind going awhile longer with his near-ruined boots if it meant the church could have the bell.
Michael and I had just talked about giving towards the building fund. It was all a bit overwhelming to me; we had just combed through the budget and prayed about our Faith Promise contribution. By faith, we made that pledge. And now, this.
The building fund goal is audacious. $200,000 for 62 families, families who give generously on tight budgets. When I did the math, I wanted to cry. Only God can make this happen.
But I kept coming back to Pa and his boots.
No one in my home lacks for shoes. In fact, all six of us have multiple pairs of good shoes that fit well. Our pantry and refrigerator are stocked with good, nutritious food; I don’t wonder where supper will come from tonight. In fact, I can buy the occasional Starbucks coffee or Chick-fil-A. I just bought annual plants to beautify my backyard.
Pa had a vision for the church. The bell would herald across the prairie, calling families to worship and unifying a community. Much more than a decoration, it was also a way to call the community together for a variety of purposes, so significant for families scattered across a prairie.
This isn’t unlike the vision Christ Community has for its new building. We long for a place: a place that is ours, a place we can call home and put down roots, a place where we can gather together from our scattered lives and join for worship and for service and for meetings and for community projects. The Church does not need a building of its own. But having been with Christ Community from the beginning, I am excited about this vision and believe that God has given our leadership wisdom in making this step.
One of my girls is reading a biography of Laura Ingalls Wilder right now, and I came across the church bell story while helping her with a timeline. While some stories in the Little House canon are fictionalized, this one is almost entirely true. Except Pa gave $26.33 (about $500 today, adjusted for inflation), not a mere $3. For a church bell.
I don’t know how the Lord will provide for you to contribute on Giving Sunday, but I do know it will feel like sacrifice. This will challenge what you believe about God at a very fundamental level: is He good? Can He be trusted to provide for me? Does he really love me and this church? Is it worth it? What do I love?
This Sunday is Giving Sunday. Challenge God. Ask Him. He can handle those questions. He longs for us to wrestle with him over these matters. And then, give. Watch what happens.
For our CCC members: Please turn in your one-time gift and pledge card to Adele this Sunday, April 30.
For CCC friends & non-members: Please pray as our members give sacraficially. Also, consider giving toward our building campaing by clicking here. Be sure to mark your gift as "building."