One year ago, when I turned 16, I started what is called "The Radical Challenge," taken from the book "Radical," by David Platt (which everyone should read). I... didn't do so well on a lot of the challenges, for which I am rather ashamed of myself. I hope to try again this year and to press through with diligence.
However, I did hold to one commitment which, on its own, has had a significant effect on my life. That commitment was to sacrifice my money for a specific cause, and I chose hunger as my cause. Through the year, I would keep myself from spending any money on something that wasn't absolutely necessary, and then I would take that money and put it in a jar for world hunger. As a high-schooler living at home, my personal expenses are minimal, so I really did hardly spend any money, except on plane tickets.
Sacrificing my money for this cause meant that I never spent my money on something that was just for me, just for fun. After a trip to Starbucks, I would go stick $4 into my world hunger jar instead of buying the coffee. If I was sorely tempted to buy a certain book, I would go put that $15 into my jar. Just a few days after I began this challenge, I was faced with the premiere of The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. Many friends were going to see it, I knew there was absolutely nothing wrong with going, I wanted to go, I knew that I should "support the film," but I ultimately decided to stick with my personal challenge. $8 more in the jar.
Using this method, I accumulated $100 this year for world hunger. It doesn't really seem like that much until I think about the fact that without my commitment to this cause, I definitely would have spent that $100 on my own ideas and fancies. That $100 would be gone over little things like coffee, clothes, or movies. And now, that $100 could send $500 worth of food to Africa. Or it could send 20 chickens to a family with no means of income. Or it could give food, clothing, and education to a child for three months. Or it could fill 400 cups with nutritious food for 400 hungry children. And for a few of those children, it could mean the difference between life and death.
All of a sudden, it was all so worth it. I hardly even remember those moments of wishing I had whatever the little thing was. Now, I just have that joy of knowing I will be making a huge difference by simply using what God had already given me. Using it for Him, not me. Because it's not really mine to begin with.
And so, now begins what I think will be a life-long change, a life-long challenge. I'll never view money the same way again. As soon as I start realizing that $1 is food and hope for 4 children, I cannot spend money on me that I could give away. There may be exceptions in the journey of life, but I can't see them now. Sure, as I grow older, I will have to spend money on housing, food, and basic clothing, but I will not have to spend money on the "little things" that are "just for fun" or "create memories." I will give an account for how I used the resources God gives me, and I would rather sacrifice here on earth than disappoint my Savior.
Maybe I sound a little over-the-top, gone too far. Come on, Shelby, lighten up. But I ask you to think deeply about it. Think seriously about the fact that our life is a vapor, our money is not our own, and there really, truly is suffering that we can ease or end. I cannot speak for how you will feel about it, but as for me, I do not want to leave this world with regrets.
My Savior was over-the-top, gone-too-far for me. He was crazy and radical. Now, maybe I sound radical. Maybe I sound crazy. All I can say is that I hope I am.
"He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose."