I grew up in church – attending every week, every time the doors were open. My family was committed to following Jesus and we learned a lot from the small church I grew up in. I learned about tithing, seeing God’s provision of enough, and about obedience. But, some verses from the Bible were never talked about in our church, and it shames me to say we had a judgmental attitude toward the poor.
I was not taught to be generous.
Not taught to care for the poor.
We were tight fisted.
Holding on to what we had for fear of not having enough.
When I began to read through the bible for myself, I encountered verse after verse on how important caring for the poor was to God. Verses like…
“Whoever is kind to the poor lends to the Lord, and he will reward them for what they have done.”
About the same time, I got a postcard in the mail from Compassion International sharing an opportunity to sponsor a child. I watched a video explaining the work they were doing with kids in need around the world. As I wept, I knew that God was beginning something in my heart. He was sowing seeds of a whole new way of thinking that would change the story of my life forever. This was the beginning of a journey of generosity.
I made a choice to trust His word, water the seeds that had been planted in my heart, and be obedient to step out and do whatever God asked
“Be faithful in small things because it is in them that your strength lies.” Mother Teresa
I began to step out in this generosity journey with God one small step at a time. One thing lead to and another, it started to snowball, and before I knew it being generous was becoming an adventure.
As part of this adventure, I signed up to sponsor a Compassion Child, Doreen from Uganda. I saw that my small sacrifice could make a big difference in not only her life, but also in the life of her family. That one, led to two more Compassion kids, sponsoring kids for camps, and looking for various opportunities to be generous. I was seeing God continually blessing me as I was opening my hands to give in these small ways. There was so much joy in partnering with him and his work on earth. I realized that if I can just sacrifice a little bit I can make a big impact in others.
Then I had some unexpected money come from a book deal. I wanted to experiment with giving that income away – not spending any of it on myself. So I decided to cash that $700 check I had received, keep it in my wallet, and give it away as I saw or heard of a need. The only boundary I had was to not spend it on myself. It took me a little while to give it all away. Several months after I had, a check arrived in the mail for $3,000. Some friends wanted us to be able to take a vacation! I thought to myself, was it possible that God was giving back to me for lending my money to him? Haha! Was that a coincidence or could it be a blessing?
I was about to find out how these simple acts of obedience and small beginnings triggered God’s blessing in ways I never could have imagined.
Deut. 15:10 (MSG) “Give freely and spontaneously. Don’t have a stingy heart. The way you handle matters like this triggers God, your God’s, blessing in everything you do, all your work and ventures.”
My generosity journey took me somewhere next that was totally unexpected, to two little old ladies.
I was sitting in church one Sunday and during the sermon a question was asked….
“Where does love take you?” The point of the talk was that love is like a river, and always flows to the lowest places, to the people who need the most help. So, I sat and pondered the question “where does love take me?” I thought about some causes that could be good things to get involved in like Human Trafficking and I immediately heard God’s voice in my head say “I’m taking you to two little old ladies”.
I knew exactly what He meant.
He was talking about my mother-in-law, Betty, and her roommate of 40 years, Eileen. I thought “Oh, No! God’s asking me to take care of them?? I don’t really want to do this!” Honestly, it kind of scared me, but I knew it was God.
So, I stepped into obedience again, continuing on this generosity journey with God.
We had been helping Betty on and off through the years because she is Rick’s mom. But, Eileen was not always a nice person. No one in our family really liked her! When we saw her we would be cordial and tolerate her, but I was honestly kind of scared of her. I had never reached out to her with love.
We started by acknowledging Eileen’s birthday! We had never done that in all the years we had known her. We gave her a T.V. as a present. Wow, was she shocked! Then we noticed that they really were struggling to make ends meet. We decided to buy a house for them to live in. Neither one of them had ever lived in a house. They had always lived in apartments. Miraculously, God gave us enough money for the down payment! The night before we bought the house I had a panic attack and all these thoughts began to enter my mind like... once we put all this money down on this house we won’t have that money anymore to fall back on! What if we can’t afford it, what will we do?!!
It was risky!! But, we went ahead and did it anyway. Trusting God in another step of obedience.
After getting them moved in, we started taking care of the things they needed in the house. Admittedly, I had kind of a bad attitude when I was there cleaning the house we had bought them!! I mean, come on! We bought them this house and now I’m over there cleaning it. But, when I’d get done with the cleaning I just knew that God was pleased.
Over a 3 year period we poured into my mother-in-law and her friend Eileen I saw such a radical change in Eileen. I began to see God in her, and I grew to love her! It was nothing short of a miracle.
Not only did I watch God change Eileen through this extravagant generosity, but God changed me as well. He softened my heart and gave me compassion for her. God changed me. Love changed Eileen. And love changed me!!
Now as I look back, I don’t have any idea how we made 2 house payments for over three years and how we afforded to do all those things we did for them!
When we sold that house, the craziest thing happened. We ended up with a $100,000 profit on the sale of that house!!! I couldn’t believe it! How in the world did that happen??!
We have an EXTRAVAGANTLY generous God.