Generosity is one of the core values I desire will increase in me and become a hallmark of my life.
My friend and colleague, Patty Moreno, is a gifted communicator and part of the pastoral teaching team at Lake City Church where I serve as Care Connect Director. A couple Sundays ago, Patty delivered a sermon, Willing to Give. I appreciated the vulnerability with which my friend delivered the message on desiring a heart of generosity. Patty reminded us that:
“Rich people aren’t generous. Rich people are rich. Generous people are generous.”
Willingness to give comes from a heart of generosity rather than an abundance of resources.
Several years ago, Ron and I went to a Sunday afternoon gathering to listen to our friends, Jackie and Duane Anderson, talk about their new endeavor as full time medical missionaries in Ethiopia, Africa. Duane is an orthopedic surgeon, but the words he spoke that afternoon—words that pierced the core of my being—weren’t about repairing broken bones.
In describing the region in which they were serving, Dr. Anderson explained that one in twelve women die during childbirth. He also talked about the tragedy of a horrific condition I’d never before heard of—Vesicovaginal fistula.
Our friend’s report moved me profoundly.
This is not okay! An interior voice screamed.
What can I do? The interior scream quieted enough to ask a question.
God, What do You want me to do? The scream, turned question, became a silent prayer.
I was certain the answer I received that afternoon was this: Give 30% of every penny you earn above your regular income to help ministries serving women and children.
I was so convinced of the message I heard that I told Ron as soon as we got into our car after the Andersons’ talk that God wanted me to give 30% of any extra income I earned to ministries serving women and children. Usually, I ask Ron what he thinks about an expenditure I’d like to make, but this time, I didn’t consult. I announced that’s what I intended to do.
Even though I was absolutely certain about what I’d been summoned to do, the whole experience felt surreal. I wondered:
Why 30%? Why not 50% or even 100%?
From what unimaginable place would that 30% come? I had no source of extra income.
Where was I going to learn about ministries to which I would give 30% of whatever?
The next day I received an unexpected check for $15.00. I’d submitted an article for publication in a book entitled Extraordinary Miracles in the Lives of Ordinary People. I was told there would be no payment other than the blessing of being published, which at the time, seemed compensation enough.
As I wrote a check for $4.50 that day, I felt like the timid widow who tossed her meager two mites into the temple offering (see story in Luke 21)!
A couple years following that memorable Sunday afternoon, I retired. A year after retiring, my former employer asked if I’d like to do occasional contract jobs. Wow! An extra-income source. What joy it was to send off 30% from each of my contract job checks to ministries I kept learning about—good works serving to promote the welfare of women and children all around this world.
The world in which I, my children and my grandchildren reside.
A world often unkind to women and children.
Last Tuesday I completed a contract job for which I’ll soon receive payment.
This morning at church, our sermon was titled Willing to Engage. Pastor Mike challenged us to reach beyond our own realities in order to help transform the lives of others. At the conclusion of the sermon, Mike invited a woman from our congregation—a woman whom I’ve never met and had only heard about for the first time last week—to speak.
Krista Gilbert will leave her comfortable home in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, in a week to travel to Africa. There, she will spend time working in a refugee’ camp housing hundreds of women and children from war-ravaged regions.
From the refugee camp, this ordinary wife and mom will, along with a group of women involved in a project called One Million Thumbprints, climb Mt. Kilimanjaro, a 20,000 foot mountain. The climb is intended to raise awareness of the plight of our sisters around the world who are being brutalized in ways too imaginable for comprehension. (To learn more about this project, visit: http://www.onemillionthumbprints.org/)
At the conclusion of this morning’s sermon, I heard the same voice that sometimes speaks to my spirit—the same one I heard the afternoon of the Andersons’ presentation—the same voice I’m trying to learn to listen for more intently and intentionally. I knew this time I was being asked to give 100% of the recent extra income I earned less than a week ago to One Million Thumbprints.
Again, I felt real joy when I made this contribution. The gift flowed from my heart, which was prompted by the still small voice of the Spirit to act generously.
I hesitated momentarily before writing this blog post. One of my biggest pet peeves is when fellow Christians seem to be trying to manipulate me into following their spiritual discipline or adopting their particular passion. I wondered if that’s how my words might be perceived by Listening… readers. I assure you that isn’t my intention!
If I could choose the best outcome to the words I’ve written today, it would be that any reader, who has already been thinking about how she can live more generously, would be encouraged to
keep listening for that still, small voice
say ‘Sure, Lord’ whenever she feels prompted to take an action, and
experience the joy that comes whenever we are
Living with a Generous Heart
Blessings on your journey of listening…
Listening on YOUR Journey…
- What generous step is God asking you to take?
- How have you observed or experienced generous living that makes a difference?
The heavens declare the glory of God,
and the skies announce what his hands have made. (Psalm 19:1 NCV)
We enjoyed God’s generosity recently, provided in this beautiful sunset over Lake Coeur d’Alene.