In yesterday’s post I talked about how God has taught me three things recently. In each instance, I knew I was being taught something, but I was going about learning it all wrong. Does that make sense? Take yesterday’s post, for example. I thought God was teaching me to be a better wife. And he was, but not in the way I thought. I thought I was learning to put more effort into keeping a good household. What I was really learning was to pay more attention to my husband’s ACTUAL needs- the wife he really needs me to be, not the wife I think I’m supposed to be. Learning this took a little pain and a wake-up call of sorts.
Well, we’re coming into the Christmas season (actually, for me, the Christmas season starts on November 1st and doesn’t end until January 1st, but I am at least willing to admit I have a problem.) We’re all thinking about giving. I have no problem giving gifts; few people really do. We love to give good things to the people we love. It’s not really a sacrifice. But how much harder is it to give to the people we don’t love? I’m not really talking about enemies (although what a challenge that would be!), but about people in need.
There are a bazillion charities associated with Christmas time, and I knew that I wanted to start doing something at Christmas to give to someone less fortunate. It would be an awesome tradition to start and a way to remind us to live with gratitude and humility. A reminder that we need nothing but Jesus. Everything else is just stuff. “You are my Lord, I have no good besides you.” (Psalm 16:2)
But I didn’t know where to start! I was looking for that perfect thing that Chris and I could start giving to or doing together. I was sure that I would know it when I saw it. I considered so many options- all of which are excellent causes. But I didn’t know which one was the BEST! Which one would help the MOST people? Which sock donation would change LIVES?
I couldn’t settle on anything. Nothing seemed right. Nothing was perfect enough. Nothing was “Christian” enough. Ha! Finally, I came out into the entryway after church one day and saw a big basket collecting items for Church Under the Bridge. On the outside of the basket were attached little cards, each listing an item that was needed. Backpacks, blankets, socks, etc. I grabbed a card that asked for 2 good blankets, and I made my decision.
We’ll just start with the blankets. It still didn’t seem “good enough”, and that’s when God spoke to my heart in that quiet way that He does. While I am looking for that perfect opportunity to give to someone else, the thing that will make me the BEST Christian, people out there are shivering in the cold and would really benefit from a good warm blanket, and I can’t stand to give it to them because it isn’t enough for me. Maybe deep down my dilemma comes from a good place, but it had been distorted into some internal competition, and as a result I was dead in the water, unable to choose any one thing.
And all God wanted me to do was to start somewhere! So tonight, I will go to the store and pick up a couple of nice warm blankets, and I will donate them to this cause. I am not saying this to toot my horn. I’m saying this because it actually took a leap of faith for me to get here- to realize that it’s okay to want to do extravagant things for God, but that we have to start somewhere. I was looking for opportunities, but they were all around me. I just needed to pick one.
I think the same can be said for all kinds of giving- tithes and offerings at church, volunteering our time, charitable giving, etc. Something is better than nothing, and God is capable of opening doors, presenting opportunities, and multiplying even the smallest of gifts when they are given with joy and a pure desire to serve God and others.
So from now on I am not going to agonize over how expensive the gift is or in what quantity I am able to give it. I am going to do what I can with the little I have, so that when my Master comes back He will look at the small portion He put me in charge of, see how instead of burying it in the ground for fear that nothing I could do with it would be good enough I just did what I knew how to do to the best of my ability, and He will hopefully grab me in a big bear hug and tell me I did a good job.
And who knows who will be touched by those simple blankets? I know that we will be praying over them before we send them out. It’s not a lot to start with, but five loaves and two fish wasn’t a lot either, and look where that ended up.