Recently at a church where I was preaching on Sunday morning, a lady was telling me a story about her daughter when the daughter was in grade school. She was telling me about the daughter because as I got up to preach that Sunday, I encouraged the people to use the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering prayer guide throughout the week to help understand where their giving was going and also pray for our missionaries that are out there on the cutting edge around the world telling the nations about Jesus and His love.
The lady said that some years ago, her little grade school aged daughter had gone to school and later in the day the teacher called her and wanted to visit with her about her daughter but also wanted to visit about their family. The teacher asked the mother a rather blunt but simple question, “Is your family having financial difficulties?” The mother responded, “No, not really. I don’t know what you are referring to.” The teacher said, “Well, your daughter didn’t have lunch money, and I was wondering if y’all were having some kind of difficulty.” The mother said, “I gave her lunch money.” The teacher said, “She didn’t have any.”
The mother said she would look into it, and when the daughter got home from school that day she asked her daughter, “Didn’t I give you some lunch money the other day for you to take to school?” Sure enough, the girl acknowledged that the mother had. The mother said, “Why did you tell the teacher that you didn’t have any money?” The daughter said, “Because I didn’t.” The mother said, “Well, I had given you the money.” The daughter said, “Yes, ma’am, but I wanted to give it to Honey Moon. I had some change that I could have given, but I wanted to give dollars to that mission offering for Honey Moon.” In a flash, the mother recognized that her grade school child had gotten the mission offering, Honey Moon, mixed up with Lottie Moon.
As the mother described it to me, it was an insightful and light moment but as she and the family reflect on it, it was a wonderful moment, too, that the daughter wanted to give some dollars to Honey Moon. That was years ago, but it’s still a part of their family history and she thinks about it often and was reminded of it on that Sunday morning as I mentioned Lottie Moon to the congregation. In retrospect, I began to think about how significant that is. I had never ever thought of Honey Moon and Lottie Moon in the same thought process, but I did after that mother talked to me.
I began to think about how much like honeymoon the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering is to the world. You may wonder how and why would I think that. When you think about a honeymoon, it usually is a part of the wedding and marriage process after which a couple goes off together to begin their life journey as husband and wife on what typically is called the honeymoon. When you think about a honeymoon, there are three things that are involved in it.
One — the honeymoon is about relationships. It is about a relationship between a husband and wife, a relationship that develops between a man and a woman. A love relationship, and that is exactly what the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering is all about. Our Baptist honeymoon involves that wonderful love relationship between God and us that grows in dimensions to the place where our love encompasses the world even as God’s love encompasses our planet. Christianity is a love religion. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son” (John 3:16), and our relationship with Him — the One who would give His life so that we could have life — is life’s most precious relationship.
In human terms, it is also that kind of love relationship that caused the little girl to call it the honeymoon. God loved us when we were unlovely. He loved us before we ever knew Him and He calls on us to have the kind of love that would love a world that may not know Him and maybe have never heard of Him and for us to love them to the point that we would be a part of providing for them the Good News.
Two — The honeymoon is about resources. I’m not talking about enough money so that somebody could fly to Paris or spend a month in Hawaii kind of resources, though those kind of resources are important. The truth is, a couple that starts out on their life together needs resources for daily living, a place to live, maybe one day a home.There is also the need for cars and the future kids, and the resources go on and on.
The honeymoon of Southern Baptist life has to do with sustaining the ongoing work of missionaries around the world. With missionaries placed throughout the entire globe, it is not an easy thing to keep them supplied, strengthened, and working.
Often it is said that money issues, maybe disagreements about money and how to spend it, and the lack of resources cause more troubles in many marriages than anything else. Often the lack of resources is wrapped around the lack of other things, too, but on the Baptist honeymoon, resources are provided by people across this nation as they give to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering to tell the entire world that Jesus loves you and gave His life for your sins.
Annually, this honeymoon offering is one of the largest missions offerings taken on the entire planet. Undergirded with prayer and plans, it enables our missionaries to be supported, cared for, and effective in their ministries in telling the world about Jesus.
In the days past the honeymoon, a couple may recognize there are things that they need or want or have a crisis in their life and resources are desperately needed. Sometimes you think you don’t have any more to give, and that is probably true when it comes to giving to missions also, but would you prayerfully, personally, honestly think about giving a little more? Maybe you’ve been spreading it out over a few weeks and give some more every week and see how God will bless the resources that you will share.
Three — The honeymoon is about rejoicing. Rejoicing in that the message of Jesus goes forth and you and I are privileged to participate in sending it. Rejoicing even as the Psalmist said, “He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him” (Psalm 126:6). There is the harvest that is ahead.
For the couple on their honeymoon, as the days go by and life goes forward into new phases, there is rejoicing for sure. Rejoicing because of their accomplishments and those of their children. Rejoicing because they are able to have a comfortable home. Rejoicing because they are fulfilled in their jobs and responsibilities.
When it comes to Kingdom work, when it comes to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering, when it comes to honeymoon of Southern Baptists, the rejoicing may be out in the future. Can you imagine out there in eternity time you’re privileged to see a group of people who came to know Jesus because you cared? Or maybe privileged to meet one person who because of your gift, he or she heard the Good News and was saved. Some of the great joys in heaven are no doubt going to come because we see and experience the joy of being a part of spreading the word of what Jesus came to do.
This Christmas, may God bless you as you give, and may we rejoice in the honeymoon among Baptist churches.
The author can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dr. Jim Futral