Did God ever do something in your life that just blew you away? Oh I don’t mean some grandiose thing like raising someone from the dead, but some small set of circumstances aligned just right so that it seemed pre-planned by human effort though you know it wasn’t? That’s what happened to me a couple of weeks ago.
The singles ministry I oversee, Connections, decided we wanted to bless our synagogue by purchasing a new white board in the youth room. What prompted this decision?
Many of us study under our associate rabbi, Matthew Salathe. Rabbi Matthew is a young man, but so full of the Spirit that wisdom and insight into the Word just flows from him. And he is so humble that he doesn’t even realize it!
One day, after a Hebrew class where he was struggling to erase the white board, he mentioned there was a new one he had his eye one. It was magnetic and could serve as a projection screen as well. The old one, located in the youth room that also serves as an adult classroom, past its prime a great many moons ago. In fact, you can’t really call it a ‘white’ board anymore as there is nothing ‘white’ about it.
So this small comment about a new one birthed a seed in several of us, his students. When we got together for our monthly fellowship meeting in January, we talked about how to raise the money for it, in appreciation of Rabbi Matthew. We touched on fundraising ideas, but in the end realized that none of us had the time to do those kinds of things. Instead, we opted to give, as each was able.
Over the course of the next several weeks, we put out a call through email and collected money at each Connections gathering. Everyone gave as they could. Some could only afford spare change; others were moved to give larger gifts.
Realizing that someone at Temple Aron haKodesh should know what we were doing, I contacted the communications director. She confirmed that Rabbi Matthew was going to be very excited. When we reached our goal of $300, we set up the day we would present the gift – February 26th. The week prior to the 26th we had one more gathering where people who had not been able to give before still wanted to give. We surpassed our goal by over $84!
I knew I would have to say a little something as I was presenting the gift on behalf of the group, but wasn’t quite sure what that should be. That week as I read the Torah portion, I couldn’t help but giggle how God set up the perfect day to give. The portion started out, “ADONAI said to Moshe, ‘Tell the people of Isra’el to take up a collection for me — accept a contribution from anyone who wholeheartedly wants to give.’”
I now knew what I was going to say, tying it into the Torah portion about giving and pointing out how the portion is full of details; that God is concerned and active in all the details. I was simply amazed how He was using us as an abstract lesson.
But it doesn’t end there. While we were planning a surprise for our rabbis and the congregation, God was setting us up for one as well.
During Rabbi Matthew’s Torah class before service, he pointed out how detailed this portion is. He mentioned how God is concerned about everything in our lives. There is nothing so small that it is a ‘bother’ to God. He also pointed out that what seems to be a small thing, could take a vast amount of intricate planning on God’s part. His example? Finding a parking space. (I could relate to this, because my job has me visiting several stores every day and I’m always praying for a spot.)
Rabbi pointed out that there are a lot of parts that have to be moved around in order to provide that parking spot. I couldn’t help but laugh, knowing the surprise that was coming for Rabbi, and all that God did to set it up.
But again, it doesn’t end there.
During the Torah service at TAK, a gentleman from the congregation does a short teaching on the Torah portion referred to as a d’rash. This particular week our elder, Francisco Moros presented the d’rash.
Now Francisco opens the fellowship hall for our monthly Connections meeting. He gets to watch several of us sweep in and in a matter of minutes transform the cafeteria look of the room to an inviting fellowship space.
Usually the d’rash presenter delves into the body of the portion, some even drawing on other parts of the bible. Well, unknown to me, Francisco focused on the first two verses of the portion about giving. Not only that, but he talked about our Connections group and how we give to one another. Not only that, he talked about me!
I need to clarify here – Francisco had no clue what was going to happen a few short minutes from then, but I was blown away!
So with the Torah service ended, I headed up to the front, asked for a mic and proceeded to present our rabbis with the gift to purchase the white board. The look of utter surprise and joy on Rabbi Matthew’s face was priceless! Our head rabbi, Joe Vitkus (also very surprised), said they had just been talking about how to get the money for the board.
Everyone in the congregation was amazed how God orchestrated a living example of this abstract lesson of giving. Our Father proved to each one of us that He is in control of and involved in all the details of our lives.