Danielle (Dani) Rupp has attended Willowdale Chapel for the past seven years. She is currently serving in South Asia with International Justice Mission, a human rights agency that works to secure justice for victims of slavery, human trafficking, and other forms of violent oppression. Click here to read her bio.
Here in South Asia I attend a church on Sunday evenings. This time of worship includes boys and girls of all ages who come from four different homes that care for vulnerable and at-risk children and youth in the city. They all have different stories and backgrounds but the same desire to learn about Jesus.
Before I arrived, they had a series of teachings on tithing and giving to God. After this, the first offering was taken. There was a trickle of coins put in the basket. But the second week, there was a rush to the front of the room -- so much so, that the offering couldn’t even fit in the designated basket. You see, after that first week, many of the children talked to their house parents about what they could bring for the offering; they were upset that they had nothing to give. Most of them do not earn money and didn’t know what else to bring. The house parents explained that they just needed to give something that means something to them. So, they each brought something of utmost importance to them: mangos. Mangos are not in season for very long, and they are a special treat here. Each afternoon the children are given a snack and that is what they decided to offer, even the precious mangos.
I have since been to this church many times and seen the offering being taken. Apples, limes, cucumbers, cookies, and chips all have made their way to the front of the church. Music is played and the children joyfully place their bags of snacks and produce beside the offering basket. I think they understand at a deeper level than I do the meaning of sacrifice and giving wholeheartedly to God.
Offering from last week.
As I reflect on these children’s gifts, I am reminded of Abraham and how God asked him to sacrifice Isaac. Isaac was the son that Abraham and Sarah had prayed and waited years for. God blessed them and then asked Abraham to do the unthinkable -- sacrifice his only son. It seemed as if God was asking him to give up that which was the fulfillment of His promise to Abraham. This had to be confusing. No doubt Abraham’s instinct was to protect his son and to keep him from harm. Despite this, he obeyed. Now, God stopped him and provided a ram for the offering instead, but Abraham was willing to give up the son he loved for the God he loved even more.
If an offering is giving up something valuable, what is God asking of me? There is one area that I seem to consistently have trouble offering to God. This is the mango I hold onto the hardest, the one I don’t want to let go. It is deeply personal and important to me: marriage and a family. I have dreamt about those since I was a small child. I played dolls and “house” way past the age that most children did. I never thought I’d be 33 and still single.
For some people, being single is their desire. It is their choice. It is their calling. And that is wonderful. But it’s not that for me. For me, it an ongoing sacrifice that I consistently wrestle with. And I am not always a cheerful giver. God and I have had many conversations about it. I constantly have to remind myself that He is using my singleness; that singleness can be a gift if I choose to look at it that way. If I am trying to offer God my life as a living sacrifice, then that includes my relationship status. It includes all of me. He deserves my faithfully and obediently waiting for the fulfillment of one of my deepest longings. He deserves my trusting Him with what I hold most dear -- my heart. He deserves all my mangos.