Back in the 1960's, Lakewood was still in its original building; a feed store that held 200 people. The church was really growing. They needed a larger auditorium. My father told the congregation that on a particular Sunday, he was going to receive a special offering for a new building. He asked them to pray about what God would have them to give. He encouraged them to stretch their faith, believe big and do their very best. He received the offering, and it was a little over $6,000. To them back then, that was like $600,000. Daddy was so excited. That was enough to pour the foundation and get the building started.
But one day driving home from church, my father passed a small Spanish church about six blocks from Lakewood. This Spanish church had been building on a little auditorium for years. They would do some construction, take time off, build some more, on and on. As my father passed, he heard the voice of the Holy Spirit inside say, "I want you to give that special offering to this Spanish church so they can finish their building."
Daddy's first thought was, "Get behind me, Satan! That could not be God!" He began to reason it out. "God, You mean You want me to give the money I just raised, the money we need, the money we've been dreaming about, the money we've been praying for? You want me to give that to a church down the street?" It didn't make sense. It didn't seem logical. He needed the funds, yet God said, "Sow it as a seed." My father had this bold obedience. He said, "Alright, God." He wrote them a check, and they nearly passed out! Over the next few months, people began to come from out of nowhere, it seemed, giving money to the new sanctuary for Lakewood. They not only had enough for the foundation, but they had enough for the whole building! A year later, they moved into a 1,000-seat sanctuary that was totally debt free.
You can't out-give God. When God asks you to do something, just do it. If you talk yourself out of it, not only is the other person not being blessed, but you're missing the blessing God has for you. How many times have I talked myself out of doing what I knew God wanted me to do? I knew I was supposed to call a friend and encourage them. I knew I was supposed to help that family with their rent. But I got busy. I thought, "God, they look like they're doing okay. They've got as much as I do. Maybe next time." I wonder what I missed out on. I wonder what blessing God was trying to release for me.
Eight years ago, we moved out of our old sanctuary from the other location. We had been at that piece of property for over 40 years, before I was born. On the last Sunday, after the final service, I was driving away and just reflecting on all that God had done out there through the years and thinking about where God was taking us. My heart was filled with gratitude. About that time, I passed the small Spanish church six blocks down the road. They had written on their little makeshift marquee, "Thank you, Lakewood, for giving us our first sanctuary." They remembered it 40 years later. I thought how we were headed to a new place, a $400,000,000 facility, but it all started over four decades ago when my father took that bold step of obedience to bless the Spanish church. Even when he didn't understand it, even when Lakewood needed the funds, he was willing to give it away. I realize we are all reaping a harvest from seeds that were sown many years ago.
Remember, when you have bold obedience, it doesn't mean you know where God is going to take you. You don't argue with God; you don't reason it all out; you don't make excuses, you just do it. You can't imagine the doors God is going to open, not only for you, but for your children. I'm sure my father is looking down from heaven right now thinking, "I never dreamed Lakewood would be where it is today." That's what happens when you have bold obedience!
"…To obey is better than sacrifice…" (1 Samuel 15:22, NIV)