Monday, March 16, 2009

Spirit cuts through clutter

Giving can be an act of consecration
By Werner Peters | Special to ChristianWeek

Typing away on my laptop today reminded me of an incident I dare not forget. Years ago I was one of the very first to own a computer in the small town where I once served as a pastor. Then--as now--it was easy to get addicted to the many distractions a computer offers.

Buying the computer put me in debt, but I felt a strange impulse to do something that seemed irrational. I became aware that a children's Bible camp needed a computer, and I felt impelled to give my brand new computer to this ministry. I wasn't certain this urge was of the Lord. It certainly was not something I wanted to do.

I sat on the idea for a few days, wanting to be sure that it wasn't fleeting. Besides, I did not want to part with my computer. On the other hand, it was becoming addictive. So perhaps, I thought to myself, the Lord wanted it out of my life. I finally picked up the phone with a sigh and called the camp. To my surprise, the director there told me that someone else had given them a brand new computer just that week and they did not need another one.

Now what was I going to do? I decided to sell the computer pay off my debt. I got ready to go downtown to place an ad in the local newspaper, still puzzled about this "leading" I felt was from the Holy Spirit.

On the way out of the office I met an older believer (we'll call him John) who asked me what I was up to. I told him about my strange experience with the computer and informed him I was going to sell it. "Please don't go to place that ad," he replied. "I might be interested in buying the computer. What would it cost if I bought one just like it in the store?" (In those days we paid $1,200 to $1,400 for a computer with only one megabyte of ram and perhaps a 40 megabyte hard drive--and an amber screen.)

"John? You want a computer?" It was very unusual, particularly in those days, to see a 75-year-old man getting into computer technology. But he was a businessman and I figured he must want it for his business.

So I didn't run the ad. A couple of days later John came by my office and pulled out a roll of one hundred dollar bills. He counted them out--12 crisp new ones. I was preparing to pull things apart and help him out to the car with the various components when he said, "Wait a minute. Now the computer is mine, right?"

"Right," I said. "It's all yours. Let me help you carry it to the car."

"Well," he said, "I want you to have it."

I didn't quite understand him. I asked him to repeat what he just said.

"I want you to keep it. I am giving it back to you! I am convinced that the Lord was telling me to help you with your debt, so I bought your computer and I am giving it back to you. It's a gift."

It's one of the strangest experiences I have ever had with an "impulse." But I learned that giving something away is sometimes simply a roundabout way of consecrating something to the Lord and using it only in service for Him. That is the lesson I learned that day.