Paying it forward!
Last summer our family happened to be vacationing in Northwestern Michigan, renting a place there called Shanty Creek. When I knew that we were vacationing only a short distance from where one of our retired missionary couples lived, I decided to attempt to bless this couple. Dave and Ev Southwell have been supported by New Durham Chapel since the early 70s. Two years ago Dave retired from active ministry with ABWE, in part because he has an ongoing cancer issue. I thought our vacation location was close enough to see about blessing Dave and Ev with a plaque presentation of thanksgiving for their faithful service and partnership with New Durham Chapel. I proceeded to purchase the plaque and connect with Dave’s sending church where he currently attends with the request to be able to present the plaque to them last July. I had no other motivation but just to bless Dave and Ev Southwell for a great partnership with NDC. But the Lord has a way of blessing us when we are about the business of blessing others.
Dave was teaching Sunday school that morning, so I insisted to my family that we go to Sunday school together. By chance (is there any such thing?) we happened to be sitting next to Dave’s brother and sister-in-law during Sunday school. At the end of the Sunday school class Dave’s sister-in-law, Glenna, shared with Deb that they own a three bedroom cottage on a 20-acre lake that they make available for free to pastors and missionaries. Glenna, who had no idea I was about to bless her brother-in-law, offered to Deb to make it cottage available to us. Because it is always a challenge to figure out where to stay when we go to visit our children in Michigan, especially since my daughter Lisa moved all the way up to Northwestern Michigan, this was a rather remarkable and stunning offer. We were even more surprised when after lunch Dave took us to see the cottage and we found it to be a large three-bedroom home on a private 20-acre lake with a private tennis court. So that’s how we happen to be vacationing last week in NW Michigan.
There’s a phrase that is quite popular these days called “paying it forward.” It is the concept of doing good deeds and blessing people so that they will pass that blessing on to other people. Jesus has a different challenge for us. In Matthew’s Gospel, we read, “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal,” (Matt. 5:19-20 NASB). I think the gift that we received, the stay in that cottage in Michigan, was a little taste of heaven. I think when we get to heaven we’re going to find lots of rewards that Jesus has stored up for us in doing things that were just the things that we knew were the right thing to do. God could not have given us a more peaceful and refreshing time away than the time that He gave us last week. We would’ve probably have been in Michigan last week anyway but our expenses would’ve been far greater and wherever we were would’ve been it would’ve been much different than where we ended up. God prearranged this blessing for our family for which I am profoundly grateful. We were completely off the grid at this location. In fact from Saturday morning till Thursday afternoon I never even saw an email. When we went to a movie with our grandkids on Thursday afternoon, I connected with the Internet and was checking my emails in the movie theater. I know you’re not supposed to do that, but when you’ve been disconnected for five days, maybe there’s an allowance for such a mistake. What an amazing fact, that you can live for a whole week without Internet, cell phone service or even a TV. We are truly grateful for the time together as a family. In fact, I enjoyed our time so much that we reserved the place for the same week next summer. We will see what God has for us as we continue to draw near to Him. So let us go on doing good deeds in the name of Jesus and touching hearts and lives for the glory and honor of the Lord Jesus Christ.