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Give What You Have
Peg Strange, Fitchburg, WI
1 Timothy 6:17 "Teach those who are rich in this world not to be proud and not to trust in their money, which is so unreliable. Their trust should be in God, who richly gives us all we need for our enjoyment. Tell them to use their money to do good. They should be rich in good works and generous to those in need, always being ready to share with others."
My husband took every measure to protect us from the economic crisis he thought was coming. We cut back, cut out, and we stretched. We refinanced. We had a "cushion" just in case. Despite our efforts, our income dwindled in 2008. Bill is in sales and the tricky thing with sales is that people need to buy your stuff. In November of 2009 the bottom fell out for us. One of the companies he represented got sold and "didn't need his services anymore." So began the lean times.
While we were busy letting go of all kinds of things, including mistaken ideas, God blessed us abundantly. We've met Jesus over and over again through the people who have picked us up and brushed us off and shared this journey with us. I have 6 pages in my prayer journal entitled "Generous Acts" detailing God's constancy and provision through His people. I have stories of amazing ways that God has walked every step with us. I'll share this with any of you who ask me. For now, what I'd like to share is what we learned about Jesus through friends and strangers.
1) God taught us through others that He is available when we are in need so we can do the same for others. So many gifts were given at exactly the right time. By contrast, we often gave when we could fit it into our busy schedule.
2) God is generous and we should be too. One generous gift was left anonymously for us with a beautiful prayer citing Acts 2, "And all the believers met together in one place and shared everything they had." How Christ-like for someone to share without any recognition! It's been our habit to always sign our name to a gift.
3) Jesus is reliable so we should be too. I don't think God intends for giving to be a one-time event. Instead, it means being on a journey with someone. I have two Beckys in my life that are the epitome of the word steadfast. Their constancy has left an indelible mark on my heart.
4) God is creative and cares about the tiniest detail of our lives. While some gifts were generous or exactly what was needed, others were just plain fun. A friend who doesn't typically stop by did so one day and dropped off a box of donuts that were leftover from a meeting she attended. It made our day!
5) God has gifted each of us in special ways so that we might share those gifts with others. A friend of ours is good with power tools. We'd lost a huge tree in that December snowstorm and it lay across our front yard all winter long. In the spring this friend surprised us by cutting it up and stacking it while we were away for the afternoon! Other friends also supplied us with art lessons, piano lessons, ballet lessons, produce from their garden, and flowers for us to transplant.
6) God's timing is perfect. I can think of at least three instances when friends dropped off something "on a whim" only to find out it was the very thing we were out of. This has also taught me to be obedient to the Holy Spirit's prompting.
7) Jesus will never leave us nor forsake us. He gives us words and people to encourage us. Giving words of encouragement and praying for others doesn't cost a thing and it means so much. I have some friends who email me the prayers that they are praying over me. What a comfort that is!
8) Jesus pursues us through others regardless of our current relationship with them. Jesus can use anyone for His Kingdom work. When we received pantry items and gift cards from my grade school friends' parents I just cried. They loved and fed me when I was little and now they were doing it again! I find that incredible. An in-law of one of my grade school friends sent us a check. I've never even met her.
9) God is the only one we should fear. His love casts out all fear so we can give even when it is uncomfortable. My brother sent us money but I had yet to share with him what was going on. He learned from my sister we were in need and so without even calling me he sent a check and apologized for not helping sooner. I'm sure this was a risk for him. I could have been prideful and rejected his gift but he didn't worry about offending me, he only cared about helping me. I don't often respond in that way. I think of all the ways that someone might be offended by my act and then talk myself out of helping.
God can use all things for good. I pray that God will use our trials and lessons learned to encourage you to give what you have to grow His Kingdom. You don't need money, good health, or a strong body to give. You just need a willing heart. Look at Paul. He was in prison and he still found a way to give. Look at God. He gave His one and only Son. Look at Jesus. He left heaven to give His best.
The only thing that can stop our giving - is us.
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