Saturday, April 11, 2009

Resolution ...Part II

I hate blogging about money. I hate it, I hate it, I hate it. Which is why this post has been in my head and not on my blog for the last four months.

Last December, I shared the work that the Lord had done in my life around giving. I had begun giving whenever I was asked. I felt that it was the right course of action for me, personally. Since I’m selfish, stingy, not overly generous if left to my own devices, I assumed this idea to give whenever asked was a prompting from the Lord. So I did it. I shared with you that it was a transformational experience for me. So much that I wound up having to check my heart, about my motives and the fulfillment I received from giving!

Less than a week after I wrote that blog post, I received a fundraising call from the Muscular Dystrophy Association asking for a donation. I wrestled with saying yes to them. During my moment of hemming and hawing, that darn blog post flashed into my mind and I thought, "how hypocritical, you just told everyone how you give (which you're not suppose to do) and now your not giving to the very next person who asks!". I was temporarily speechless, “um, hmmm, ahhh…let me think…”. The caller must have thought something was really wrong with me, like some sort of grunting disorder. “Ah, think I’m going to pass...”, I muttered. Then, out of nowhere came, “Wait! Yes, I’ll give!”. The caller perked up and said, “okay, can we count on you for $30, $60, or $90”, and I replied, “Five”. Her perky tone dwindled into disappointment as she told me I’d receive my pledge card in the mail.

That call was another transformational moment for me. I wrestled with not being a “cheerful giver”. One of my friends once told me “if you can’t be cheerful about it, then don’t give it – God doesn’t need your money. God loves a cheerful giver”(2 Corinthians 9:7) . At that moment I wasn’t a cheerful giver; I was a schizophrenic giver. I wanted to give, but then I didn’t want to give. Maybe my reluctance stemmed from our personal finance situation (Dirt had just received bad news about a job opportunity that we were expecting to pan out). But $5 wasn’t going to tip us into poverty.

Immediately after that call I prayed and got a sense that the time of training was over, that I didn’t have to give to every person who asked any more. I didn’t understand this feeling because I felt that it was a biblical principle to give to whoever asks and I couldn’t reconcile my feelings with that.

On Sunday I went to speak to my pastor about it. He shared that as a church, they cannot give to whoever asks. He said that we have an obligation to make sure that we give to legitimate needs, because there are a lot of scams out there that target churches. What is important is that you have a giving heart. God wants us to have a giving heart.

So with that, I determined that I can say no, as long as my heart is saying yes. Having put that into practice over the last several months I can tell you that it hasn’t always been easy. I still love to give, and the times that I have said no have been blah. But then there have also been liberating moments because my giving is now based on discretion, so every act of giving is a decision, it’s not an obligation, and that’s kinda nice. I believe that’s how God wants it anyway (2 Corinthians 9:7). He wants us to have a free will and always choose Him over other things.

I don't want you to get the wrong impression, I am still innately selfish. It is only through the grace of God that I am able to give freely and joyfully.

...there is a part III to this story (sorry) preference would've been go directly to part III without telling part II, but then part III wouldn't have made any sense.

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