12.3.06

I Am Turning Into An Insomniac

I feel:: awake

I can't sleep. I can't seem to turn off my mind. I tried praying. Sad to say, but that always used to put me right to sleep. I realize that that is not the purpose of prayer, but anyway it worked better than watching an episode of Mr. Roger's Neighborhood. When I would wake up the next morning, I would just pick up praying where I left off the night before.

I was praying for johnny_panic and then for Marshall and then for myself. I am convicted on the issue of tithing. So, I asked God to teach me the value of the tithe; what it really means; and to help me to give what is required of me without begrudging it. You know, I can drop some serious money on clothes, shoes, cds, and dvds, but when it comes to tithing I become like a miser. It's because I'm selfish and I admitted this to God in prayer freely and asked Him to forgive me for it. Then, I got to thinking, "I've just asked God to teach me the value of the tithe. That's like asking for patience. Now, I'm really in for it. He's going to give me this hard lesson and I'm not going to like it." So, I wasn't really looking forward to the prospect of the God's discipline, but as I struggled with it in prayer, I actually put my hands to my forhead and willed myself to say to God, "I must submit this to you as I must submit everything to you. I submit myself to you." My heart was beating wildly within my chest and I was still pondering the result of the requests that I had just asked of God. See, I know that whenever I ask God for something like that, I'll get it. In spades. So, there were two sides of me at that moment. One side was screaming, "You fucking twit!" and the other was struggling to get on bended knee to submit to God. The Spirit is willing, but the Flesh is weak, so they say. Yes...yes, it definitely is.

So, as I lay there in my bed listening to the ceiling fan whir above my head and looking at the light fixture and thinking of Marshall (because he helped me put it up), I realized that I already know what the value of the tithe is. The other night I was in Wal-Mart (yes, I was in Wallyworld again) grocery shopping because I just received my food stamp card in the mail finally. (I applied for it in January.) Anyway, I ran into Richard who is a long-time friend of mine and who used to live across the hall from me in Ground Zero with his wife Kacey. I took in homeless/battered women and their children; they took in troubled teen and early twenty-ish guys. (As I think about it now, that situation could have gone really bad what with my having battered women just feet away from seven guys who had no girlfriends or any prospects of girlfriends.) Anyway, we got to talking about when we lived at Ground Zero and somehow got on the subject of tithing. In Malachi God says that we are to give 10% of what we have so that there will be food in God's house. In Genesis, God accepted Able's sacrifice of his best animal, but refused Cain's sacrifice of what was not the first of his crops, in other words, not his best. When we lived and worked at Ground Zero, Richard, Kacey and I were on the verge of starvation every day, but yet the other people who worked in Sold Out Ministry with us had plenty of food. While we went without heat in the winter, they were snug and cozy in their homes; while we went without cool air in the summer (sometimes the heat in our apartments would reach into the 100s), they were sitting under ceiling fans with central air conditioning. The only food I can remember that they brought us was cans of tomato paste, but yet the electric was always on in the band practice room, the fridge was always filled with sodas to sell to the kids when they came up on the weekends and the cupboards were always full of food just in case some kid wandered in and was hungry. We weren't allowed any of that. And any money that was left over from their tithe was put in a fund for the band so that they could get new instruments when they needed them or rent hotel rooms when they went on tour. So, while the guys in the band had their guts full of food and got to travel all around doing shows, Richard, Kacey and I stayed at Ground Zero taking in more people than we could handle and giving them what food we had. The people who stayed with us never went hungry and they never had to pay to stay. This is the value of the tithe; to make sure that there is always food for those who are doing what they believe God would have them do. The Scripture says that pure religion in the sight of God is to love your neighbor as yourself, to look after widows and orphans and to keep yourself unstained from the world. Granted, we weren't perfect, but God gave us the grace to do what we believed he had led us to do.

As I reread this, I realize that I sound like I'm angry. I'm not, well maybe a bit, but not as angry as I used to be. Put simply, all that money that was given to the band and to buying sodas and candy and whatnot should have been given to Richard, Kacey and I so that we could pay our rents, buy groceries and keep our utilities on (What utilities we had anyway. The building wasn't up to code when we lived in it so I had no air conditioning, but did have gas space heaters ,two of them, but the gas company wouldn't turn my gas on because they said the gas pipes were too old and that they couldn't stand the pressure. So, they wouldn't turn on the gas until the owner of the building paid to have new gas pipes installed. You can imagine how long that took. I lived there for five years and I think only one year out of that five years I actually used those gas space heaters. Richard and Kacey didn't even have that. They had no gas space heaters and the entire time they lived at GZ, they had to use kerosene and electric heaters. I had to do that too for about four years. Try to heat an apartment that is about 3000 sq ft with 20 ft ceilings in a building that is 100 years old with electric and kerosene heaters in the dead of winter. It just doesn't ever get warm. I had ice on the INSIDE of all of my apartment windows every day of the five winters that I lived there. So did Richard and Kacey. Not to mention that the hot water heater was gas and so was the stove. So four years with no hot water for showers and no cooking on the stove. Thank God for microwaves.). We shouldn't have had to live like that. What's even sadder is that the people we were trying to help should not have had to come into that kind of environment.

So, maybe I've already learned my lesson about the tithe. Now, if only I can loosen my Scroogy grip on my money just long enough to give it to the church; to people whom I claim I love. I guess this is what is really the issue keeping me awake. That and I just can't stop thinking about Marshall. I wonder if when he sees me if he leaves drugged in that dopamine haze that I experience everytime I see him. Almost all week, all of my dreams have been about him. God, I am a freak. Hopefully, Marshall is too, so at least we'll have that one major personality trait in common.

Now that I've gotten all of this off my chest, I'm going to try to go back to sleep. I intend on going to church later on this morning even though Marshall won't be there. There is a visiting pastor there that Richard was telling me about that night I talked to him in Wal-Mart. He's a Messianic Jew. I can't wait to hear him speak.

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