As promised…I have a great story to share! Part of the reason it’s great is because of readers like you! Shall we get started?
So. My Mom sent a gift, a Happy 18 Months, Bear! slash we didn’t get to see each other at Christmas slash Happy Valentine’s sort of gift. She is great like that. And as I shared with you previously, there was drama surrounding the receiving of said gift, involving a very high customs and duties fee being demanded by South African Revenue Service (SARS). We were at the end of a tight month, really working to stay inside our budget, and five days away from payday, the thought of the gift being held ransom was rather discouraging. And I shared all that with you.
What I hadn’t shared yet was that over the course of those few days when we were discouraged and trying to figure out what to do, I was spending time reading the Bible (I like to do that, ya know) and I found myself in I Peter 2, which has a discussion of the importance of submitting to government. For a few days we’d been speaking with FedEx and their South African partners Supaswift, we’d been on the phone to SARS, and we’d been on the internet trying to discern whether we were actually being correctly charged for my Mom’s gift, since they were asking close to 70% of the gift’s declared value. At one point, FedEx made the suggestion that we could change the customs form to read ZAR 200.00 (meaning 200 South African Rand) instead of $200. And then no customs would be due. To say the least, this felt dodgy. Â We also considered sending the package back to the US and having friends who are coming next month bring it over. But that didn’t seem much different.
So back to 1 Peter 2. This passage says,Â Therefore submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake, whether to the king as supreme, or to governors, as to those who are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and for the praise of those who do good. It goes on to say Honor all people. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the King. I flipped over to Romans 13 after reading this, to be reminded again that the Lord does indeed instruct us to submit to government. And then I remembered when Jesus and Peter were visiting the temple and they were asked to pay the temple tax. Even though Jesus was greater than the temple, being the Son of God and all, still he sent Peter to the lake to catch a fish, and the fish had a coin in its mouth which would pay the tax.
All of that combined to indicate to me that we should pay the fines, even though they seemed exorbitant and ridiculous. The prayer that followed this was: Lord, You provided the coin in the mouth of the fish for Peter to pay taxes, even though it didn’t seem right. Will you please provide for us to pay the taxes due for the gift from my mother? Help us to submit and properly obey the government here.
And so He did. Without seeing it in any way connected, I shared with you my discouragement about what was going on. Five minutes after this blog post hit the web, I received a Facebook message from a friend who said “Do you have a PayPal account? I’d like to send you some spendable encouragement.” Within twenty minutes we’d been blessed with a financial gift which was just $40 shy of what we needed for the taxes. ENCOURAGEMENT, HELLO OLD FRIEND! But the story doesn’t end there!
The next morning I received an email from other friends who said they wanted to pay for us to be able to receive the gift, and they asked how much we needed. I wrote them back and sad “We’ve already been blessed with this much, and we only need this much more, but really we can cover it ourselves. If you really want to give you can, but you don’t have to worry about it.” There was of course other dialogue and thank you’s but I don’t need to tell you that since you know how long winded I am. I had been encouraged by the gift the night before, and all your emails and comments and messages, and I was full of trust that it was going to come together fine.
AND THEN! The next day I had a voicemail from my Mom saying “Your big brother read your blog and heard about what happened with your gift and he was upset that you were discouraged! He is going to put thus and such in your bank account so don’t you worry! You’re going to get your present!” As you can imagine, this brought me to tears. I didn’t even know my brother read my blog! haha Seriously, I was just really, deeply blessed by this. It has been lonely at times being in a new country, far away from family, friends and familiarity, and this moment just made me feel so surrounded and in community, even if a lot of it is virtual community right now.
Hear me out on this: You might like to chalk this up to coincidence or serendipity, but I have experienced too much coincidence in my life to call it that any more. We told God we would trust Him and walk in His ways, and we asked for His help so that we could do so. And with exceeding abundance, He provided more than enough…in more ways than one!
On Tuesday, my Mom’s gift finally arrived…along with two others! My friend Amiee also sent us a gift, maybe two or three weeks before my Mom sent hers, and Samaritan’s Feet sent us some documents and copies of our founder’s new book…and all of it coincidentally arrived on Tuesday. We opened our gifts and were just so blessed by so much generosity at a time when things have been tight…it was like a second Christmas!
To me, all this is a demonstration of God’s blessing and provision for us when we choose to walk in His ways. Although submitting to the government and paying those fees seemed like a rubbish idea at first, yet the Lord did provide for us to do so, and allowed us to walk with Him through the process. And that, my friends, is the Sermon in a Nutshell.
Since this post has gotten a little long (no surprise there) I’m going to “to be continued” to fill another post with good cheer, happy photos and general prezzie merriment! To arrive in your browser or inbox or google reader very soon! Thank you for your prayers and encouragement. Again and again, thanks.
P.S. If you’re wondering why the Bear’s outfit changed from picture 1 to picture 2, it’s because we had a little accident that necessitated a gear change and we decided he should sport his new gear for the next set of photos! 🙂