Bicycle Built for Two: Me and God
By James of Chattanooga, TN, USA
May God defend the cause of the poor of the people, and give deliverance to the needy…May God live while the sun endures, and as long as the moon, throughout all generations. May God be like rain that falls on the mown grass, like showers that water the earth. In God’s days may righteousness flourish and peace abound, until the moon is no more. —Psalm 72:4–7 NRSV, adapted
It used to be that offering time at church was a time to hang my head or go to the restroom. I was a homeless man who, by the help of offering ministry, lives in an apartment and receives social security. God does so much for me, and so does this church. But I never had anything for offering and felt so guilty. One day I finally told Pastor Jared my shame. He lifted my head, looked into my eyes, and told me I was one of the most generous men he knew—and he explained why.
This was helpful, but I told him I felt like God wanted more as an offering from me. In some churches, they always try to have all the answers. Here we pray when we are not sure what to do. Jared prayed for me.
I went outside to wait on the van when I saw two bicycles in our dumpster. They were in need of rebuilding, so I went and told Jared I knew my offering. I repaired those two bikes and gave them to two people in my apartment house. Then they wouldn’t have to walk to the doctor or get up early to catch a bus.
I still wish I had cash to offer, but now I am not ashamed when it is offering time. I have given away 39 bikes since then—at homeless shelters, community kitchens, and on the street. I take parts from one bike to repair another. People now bring me bikes to repair and give away. When I see someone riding one of my bicycles, I pray a quick prayer for the person on it and say, “Thank you, God.”
Prayer for Peace
Lift our heads, God. Look into our eyes and see the will to give. Help us accept and appreciate what others have to give. Help us put peace in each other’s hands.
Spiritual Practice: Generosity and Discipleship
Bring a basket or other container to your place of prayer. Meditate on the link between generosity and discipleship. Write a prayer of commitment in which you name specific acts of generosity and sharing to which you feel called. Fold the paper and place the prayer in the offering container. Close by singing a hymn of gratitude or praise as you offer your gift to God.
Today, God, I will honor the gifts of all.