It had happened before. A few women had gathered together at the home of a friend for our weekly Bible study. Before we got started, the leader of the group shared with us that one of the women, a single parent, was not going to be there today as her daughter was in the hospital.
After a brief discussion, it was decided that the leader of our group would purchase a gift card for her which could be used for meals, groceries and so forth. Anyone who wished to contribute could either talk to the leader afterwards, simply leave their gift on the table before they left and so forth. It was also made very clear that this was a last minute thing and no one should feel pressured in any way to give.
I am living on a very tight budget at the moment. Our household income has diminished a great deal over the past few years due to illness and unemployment. Though my husband is now working again, our income is not what it once was and in addition to that, he is now in graduate school on the "God-Will-Provide-Plan" with the goal of becoming a hospital chaplain.
Each week, I withdraw the money necessary for our weekly expenses and divide it up, placing it in the appropriate envelope in my wallet. Each week, slip a small portion of the money into my "giving" envelope which contains money for my offering as well as for two other designated funds at my church. Each Friday I put money into the giving envelope and I empty it each Sunday morning.
I was glad I had some left over money from the week before because you see, I wanted to give but all the money in my giving envelope was already spoken for. Why? Because I had failed to anticipate that God might call me to give a bit more that week. I had failed to be prepared for additional giving opportunities.
One might argue that I was already giving or that God had provided for me to still give and I would tend to agree with them except for one thing. I had the uncomfortable feeling that God had spoken to me about this before. Yes, He did want me to plan to do my "regular" giving but He also wanted me to go one step further. He wanted me to be prepared in advance to give.
Now of course, all the usual objections came to mind. "I'm on a tight budget." or"I'm giving already."Oh, and then of course there was my favorite: "If God wants me to give, He will provide me with the money to give when I need to give it." That sounds rather spirtual and noble doesn't it?
Of course now that I think about it, that is more like God doing the giving instead of me. Hmm... suddenly that does not sound quite so spiritual and noble does it. Sigh...
Then I tried a new tactic. I mentioned that I did not have much money so surely what I was already doing was enough. I mean the couple of dollars I could set aside each week did not amount to very much so how would that help anyone? The moment I started going down that road, God stopped me. Just who did I think I was? Did I know God's plans? Could I see into the future? Did I know when God was going to tell me to open up my giving envelope? No. My job was to be obedient and faithfully do what He told me to do.
There was nothing wrong with what I was currently doing. God did not want me to stop doing that but now He wanted to challenge me to go out into deeper water. He wanted me to anticipate that at any time or any place, He was going to give me the opportuniy to give and if this was true, I needed to prepare myself to do so.
I looked at my now empty giving envelope. I looked at the few dollars I had set aside for those little extra things that seem to come up during the week. You know, like when you discover you forgot to buy kitty litter, you suddenly notice that your oil needs to be changed or someone's car broke down and they needed you to drive 50 miles to pick them up and then bring them home again.Yes, it was prudent to set aside a bit of money for those unexpected things but I suddenly realized that giving fell into that category as well. I needed to set a bit aside for unexpected opportunities to give.
As I looked at the money in my hand, I noticed something I had not noticed before. I noticed I had five one dollar bills tucked in amongst the other bills. I suddenly knew what I needed to do. I needed to use those to plant a seed. I opened up my "giving envelope" and slipped those five bills into it. No, it is not much but seeds do not look like much either when you plant them. Who would have ever imagined that so much could come out of one tiny seed!
My job is not to try to figure out what God is going to do with the little seeds that I sow into my giving envelope. He is just asking me to do so and let Him take care of the rest. I can't help but wonder though, what would happen if we made giving a part of our plan. What would happen if we prepared ourselves in advance to give?
[quote]My job is not to try to figure out what God is going to do with the little seeds that I sow into my giving envelope. He is just asking me to do so and let Him take care of the rest[/quote]
No our job is to be obedient - thanks for a wonderful honest account of your struggle to obey. For if we are honest with ourselves we all follow the same pathway to arrive at being obedient.
Sister K, yes surely God will return what you have sown and surely He will multiply. Time and again, I have done like you did, step out in faith and the Lord never fails.
To this date, all my needs are met and He has blessed me beyond my imagination. He will never fail you, He will surely bless you much.
Thanks for sharing, be encouraged.
From Hwa Silverpen
Somehow, this blog makes me think of an old hymn - Trust and Obey!
I'd like to say more ... but it is amazing what God can do with the tiniest of tiny seeds!
When David decided to start the preparations for building the temple the plot of ground he had chosen was owned by a man that offered to give David the land. David's response was interesting. He refused to take the land for nothing insisting that he could not give something that had cost him nothing. That is one of those little incidents I read that always stuck in my memory. A good blog. Thank you.