The taxi driver watched while we emptied our pockets, shoveling money and tears toward people we barely knew . . .
I’ll never forget my first trip to Peru. As a rich North American I had traveled the world previously. I had stayed at the finest hotels and soaked up the sun on privately-owned beaches manicured by Marriott and Hilton. This trip was different. I had gone to Peru to talk about the Kingdom of God. I lived among the people of Lima and worked with them each day.
We stayed in a modest hotel and ate our meals with new-found Peruvian friends in local restaurants. We encountered Peruvian believers who owned but a single pair of shoes and just one Bible. This is nothing new. Countless North Americans have had their world rocked when they discover the economic needs of others around the world. But I caught a glimpse of Kingdom of God on the very last night of the trip. Our translators had been with us for ten days. We had spent more time with them than anyone else in Peru. As we waited for a midnight plane to take us home we invited our translators to one last meal together. We chatted like old friends and basked in the romance of a very short visit. Then it was time to head for the airport.
Our translators, three young Peruvians, hailed a couple of taxis and negotiated the price with the cabbies. As they turned to say their final good-byes, a revelation swept over the North American team: we were going home: all of our Peruvian money would be worthless in a few hours.
There was only one sensible solution: give it away. The taxi drivers watched while we emptied our pockets, shoveling money and tears toward people we barely knew. We all searched for every coin, each paper bill: whatever might be of benefit to our new friends. If someone was watching from the sidewalk it made no sense: there was an awkward and mad scramble to give it all away. There was no accounting. There were no instructions. No strings attached. As “employees” they had already been paid in full. Now the affections of our hearts and our immanent departure commanded a different kind of transaction. That night we began to understand radical generosity. We were living a parable.
What if your money’s no good where you’re going? The old rules no longer apply, new priorities become urgent. The way you see the world has changed. Others may call you foolish, but you don’t care, because your values have changed.
This week’s meditation asks, “What is valuable in the Age to Come?” How do you tally up the score if wealth is no longer the unit of measure? After all, gold is used to pave the streets--clearly God has a different economy! God’s economy--from first to last--has always been abundance: an abundance of relationship, love, peace, and joy. That’s the kind of wealth I want to have and share, and let heaven break into earth even now.