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Monday, December 15, 2008

The Windows of Heaven

If you're LDS, then you know what December brings -- tithing settlement. :) This annual meeting with the bishop is generally pretty quick for my family. We say whether or not we have paid a full tithe (10 percent), and then he asks if there is anything we're in need of. We're usually good, so we're in and out pretty quickly.

Yesterday's meeting was a little longer. Apparently our wonderful bishop decided to be a little inspiring. (I also think he was late for a meeting and didn't mind missing a little more. :) Anyway, he started talking about the prophet Elijah in the Old Testament. He mentioned the story of Elijah approaching the poor widow to ask for food. She had so little she mentioned that she was going to fix the last meal for herself and her son, and that they would eat it and then wait to die.

The bishop asked why this woman, who was obviously one of the most in need, would be asked to sacrifice some of her food for Elijah. Was it to test her heart? He doesn't believe so. He believes that the Lord knew her heart, and that He knew she was the most in need of being blessed. We are taught in Doctrine and Covenants (130:21) that every blessing we obtain from God is by obedience to the law upon which that blessing is predicated. This poor widow had to do something to show obedience for the Lord to bless her, and that's why Elijah was led to her to ask for a part of her meager food. Of course, she was tremendously blessed for her obedience. "And the barrel of meal wasted not, neither did the cruse of oil fail, according to the word of the Lord, which he spake by Elijah." (1 Kings 17:16)

He said, however, that this a difficult principle to follow. He said as a bishop, if a woman came to him and said she could either pay tithing or feed her children, he would wonder what to tell her. However, in a recent meeting with other bishops in the stake, the bishops were posed this question. One bishop raised his hand and said, "I would tell my members to pay their tithing so they can be blessed." He then went on to explain his own experiences with tithing.

He was living in Ecuador and had a good job that paid $5 per week. When he joined the church and learned about tithing, he realized that paying 50 cents per week (10 percent) wouldn't be possible -- unless his family sacrificed food one day a week.

So, what did they do? Every Sunday as they took the sacrament they prayed that the bread would provide the nourishment they needed for that day and would help their tummies feel full. They went without food on Sundays for two full years. Then they were given a totally unexpected blessing and opportunity -- the chance to emigrate to the United States. Here they have a home, a car and a good job; but their greatest blessing of all is that their children have never had to be without food for even one day. This family feels their opportunity to be blessed in such a way came directly from their obedience of paying tithing.

I can't imagine that kind of sacrifice since we are really so blessed in this country. Paul and I could go without food once a week, even though we'd be hungry and cranky. We could even have Becca and Tyler do it, and they'd understand. However, how do you explain to kids like Zachary and Shayla why you won't give them any food to eat? And yet this family did it and testifies to others that tithing is worth any sacrifice. This makes me realize that there really is no such thing as sacrifice -- anything we do for the Lord that feels like a sacrifice comes back to bless us so much greater that we are once again indebted to Him for all He's done on our behalf.

Paul and I have not had to make such large sacrifices. We have made much smaller sacrifices, and as a result of these have seen the windows of heaven pour us out blessings (Malachi 3:10). When we decided that we would start being a one-income family so I could stay home with the kids full time, we knew our current income was not sufficient for our bills. However, we saved up in anticipation and had enough in our savings to supplement for several months after I quit.

We weren't too worried since Paul had been promised a big raise to accompany his huge promotion. However, that pay increase never happened. And yet we were blessed to be able to pay all of our bills for more than two years. Not all of the circumstances and extra monetary blessings were pleasant (four car accidents in one year -- all other drivers' faults!), but we felt blessed beyond measure to be able to pay all of our bills throughout these years. We know that paying tithing during this time was critical to our financial security, not to mention the other blessings that surely came into our lives during this time.

In any case, next time I am asked to make a sacrifice or feel like I'm being stretched a little too thin on the Lord's errand, I will try to think of the story of Elijah and the widow and realize that maybe the Lord is just trying to give me extra blessings for my efforts.

1 comment:

the Rowleys said...

Thanks for the insight!