Over the past four years, I have seen a lot of people pass through the doors of CB. Most of them are what we call "free members". They are delighted that they get a chance to post "free blogs" and access other "free" features but are these things really free? Somewhere, somehow, someone must pay for them. This means that whenever you receive something for "free" you are being given a gift by someone else.
Websites cost money to operate. Often time revenue is often generated through advertisement. You don't have to travel far on the web to see this in action. Websites are flooded with advertisement to the point that it can get rather annoying right? Then, there are all those ads which we as Christians find offensive and rightfully so!
John Abela, the owner of this website, worked very hard to keep this website advertisement free and for the first few years that I was a member, it was. That changed awhile back and do you want to know why? It is because a very small percentage of members have paid monthly subscriptions and a very small percentage of members make even a one-time donation.
I've gotten to know a number of these pledge members over the years and I don't know a single one of them who is wealthy. In fact, for the most part you probably would not even call them financially secure. I know that a couple of them are disabled and not even working at the moment due to health reasons. That is actually my situation at the moment. I know of a few who have extremely limited finances and yet amazingly they are able to give. Could it be that when we give, we must open up our hands and release what is in them and in doing so, they are open to receive what God has for us? That is something to think about.
When I was put on a medical leave of absence last January, it was a major blow in our household. I earned more than 60% of our total household income. For a time I was able to draw a portion of my salary under a supplemental sick leave plan but that ended in May. Unable to get a medical approval to return to work and with my application for long term disability in limbo, my husband and I prayed. The possibility of us having to file for bankruptcy and also losing our home was very real. The gap between our monthly income and expenses wasn't a few dollars we could trim here and there. It amounted to several thousand dollars. This wasn't a small gully to jump across... it was a canyon!
Early on, my husband and I talked about our situation. Of course we looked at all of our expenses and trimmed what we could and sold some stuff to get a little extra cash. There was one area though which we did not trim. We did not trim our giving. Yes, there were times the offering was a bit smaller on Sunday morning for there were fewer dollars in my purse or his wallet but still... we gave. We did not just continue our pledges and offerings to our church but we continued to give to other Christian organizations we'd made pledges to and... we continued to meet our monthly pledge to CB. Why? Because we wanted to give.
Do you know what happened? We can't quite explain it but despite the dramatically reduced income, despite the fact that we technically should have been in the red every month... God has enabled us to pay every single bill in full, exactly on time... including our pledges.
As I write this, our bank account is down to it's last few dollars. There is enough money in it to last through September 30th but...I got a call early Tuesday morning. It was from a woman who told me early last spring that if I attempted to file for long-term disability when my supplemental sick leave plan ended in May... she would deny my application. She called to tell me that she had approved my application for long term disability and a check would be issued and mailed to me this week.
In this world, we have people who are givers and we have people who are takers. In Christianity we must be givers as well as receivers. Are we?
I gave my word and by God's grace and his love until he tells me otherwise. As I reflect back on the years of wasteful spending on"stuff" that now doesnt matter ,I'm grateful for a heart of stewardship and careful spending. be blessed