The art of giving & receiving - stewardship. Over the many years that I have had an opportunity to sit in church and listen to a variety of sermons on this topic, I have realized much. The greatest of which is that the topic of stewardship and giving can strike a very strong emotion in people. Today I had the opportunity to share a testimony on how stewardship, and giving, has effected my life. When I actually stopped to think about it - I realized it has changed me as a person. Growing up in the church, giving was always part of what we did. Whether the giving found its way to the offering plate, or through church needs on committees or even through youth activities, our family found a way to give back.
As I started my own journey of understanding the giving side of things, I realized early that giving was truly a gift. God has blessed each and every one of us with many talents, time, and treasures. We may not always see them that way (in fact, there were many times when I looked upon these things as a burden). Yet, as I look back, I understand better how the giving journey may begin, and how we are always on this quest of finding the ultimate giving gift~~
I was blessed to join a congregation that was just starting out. We were ALL a member of the evangelism committee, we were ALL a member of the stewardship committee, yes, we ALL chipped in any way we could. It was an exciting time. As the church grew (in both families and structure), others joined who were able to assist in the many needs of our congregation. We have been fortunate to have a congregation of givers. Whether the need is within our church walls, or stepping out into the community where other needs surface, our congregation of givers seem to be there.
Yet, I believe my personal giving has always been challenged to find the balance - the balance of God, family, work, and breathing! On any given week, one may find more of my time than others. When I find the hand tipping greater to the giving of needs, what I realize is the receiving that I get in return is abundant.
This couldn't have been more true than about 14 years ago. I felt my life was moving forward pretty well. Great church, family with two children, a dog and cat, parents living nearby, good job, etc. Then the world stopped the day that I heard I had cancer. The giving that I so much enjoyed seemed to be put on hold. My life turned into a series of surgeries, chemo treatments, sickness, radiation treatments, etc. The time that I enjoyed sharing with others (especially my Sunday School class), seemed to slip away. The energy I had to pray seemed to slip away. The ability to be there for my children and make their Halloween costumes, slipped away. Then it happened - the receiving. Family, friends, fellow congregation members - they all gave. When I had difficulty cooking for my family, meals showed up. When I couldn't get my children their costumes, two beautifully made costumes showed up. When I couldn't pray anymore - prayers were said, and answered. I received ABUNDANTLY!!
Within two years of learning I had cancer, the rug was pulled out from underneath me two more times - my father passed away and I got divorced. It was an unbelievable two years of darkness. Yet, as God always does, His light shined much brighter than any darkness we can experience. My giving wasn't as great during that time - it was more difficult to balance things. Yet, I kept trying to ensure that the giving side of me didn't become dark. I had seen God's Grace in so many people, and just wanted to keep giving - to help others as I had been helped.
It happened again, the blessings of our Dear Lord. Through the challenges of above, support was provided. I wasn't shunned away, but received and supported. My church became my refuge - and peace soon found its place again in my heart. The bonus blessing?? My Lord providing me with my soul mate, the true love of my life, and his children to complete our family. The joy surrounding our blended family of six has been incredible. The ABUNDANT receiving has been overwhelming.
How do we give? What is this giving journey? It can be in so many different ways. If you have a church family, I am sure they are always looking for an extra set of helping hands. Our time, talents, and treasures are always needed. Check out your community - our neighbors are in need. Maybe it is a dinner for an elderly shut in, or a card for someone who needs some supportive words. Maybe it is a gift card for someone who is trying to make ends meet. Maybe it is simply a hug and a cup of coffee for someone who needs to know they are loved.
We can give - we can always start the journey. Blessed are those who give in the name of the Lord. The peace your heart will receive will truly be enough. The blessings that God will give you will be amazing. Simple Giving of your Heart. Simple Faith for Today. I would love to hear your giving stories~~ Be blessed by your giving journey.
"Remember this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously." (NIV) 2 Corinthians 9:6