“You want what?” I couldn’t believe my ears.
Back in my early years of teaching, furniture other than student desks was very hard to come by. Teachers scraped and scrimmaged every piece they could find to provide for their storage needs. This included book shelves. And now the teacher across the hall, who’s room was almost wall to wall with bookshelves, had come into my room and asked me for one of the few bookshelves I had. And not just any one. My best one. Solid wood, painted my favorite shade of blue, I actually took joy in seeing it every day.
I was about to say, “No way!” when I remembered what God had been teaching me recently in Matthew 5:42. “Give to those who ask, and do not turn away from those who want to borrow from you.” So far the lessons had been easy. Give a cup of water here, soda money there. But my book shelf? To someone who already had more than I did? Wait just a minute! Surely He didn’t mean to give something like this!
“Give to those who ask.”
Did she ask? Yes, I had to admit, she did. But she already had enough!
“Do not turn away…”
“But, God! You can’t mean that in this case! That’s my favorite book shelf!”
I tried convincing the teacher to take a brown one instead. But no, she wanted the blue one because it matched the other shelves in her room. In exchange, she would give me a rickety brown shelf that matched nothing.
If this is a test, I thought, why couldn’t it be for something different – like, say, one of my learning games? Or my new coffee mug? But my bookshelf? The one that took me years to get?
I looked at her. I looked at the shelf. And I thought, “God, I don’t want to do this. But You said to give. So I will.”
The teacher happily got her blue bookshelf, and I unhappily looked at the brown one she left. Following Jesus did not always feel good. But I wanted Jesus more than I wanted that blue shelf, and so I made the best of that old brown shelf.
Not long after that, another teacher was re-organizing her room and asked me if I wanted one of her old shelves. I jumped on it eagerly and almost ran to her room to get it.
It was a wooden blue shelf! Just like the one I had given to the teacher across the hall! Only the paint job was actually in better condition!
“Wow, God!” I thought. “Following You is amazing! Thank You!”
But the story doesn’t end there. Within the next few weeks, I was given several more wooden shelves that matched that blue one! Luke 6:38 came true right before my eyes: “Give and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”
I think I got an A on that test!