This set of articles came from another lesson I needed just at the right time. The church my family and I were attending was delivering a series called “How to Thrive”. In one sermon, the one where the Alli Patterson told the story of giving her shoes away, they discussed being generous.
What happened in that service
We learned. As usual, we were given a lesson that would open us up for growth, the likes of which we weren’t prepared for. What I now realize is, you can’t run a ministry without doing certain things; one of them is knowing how to be generous. In fact; I’ve found that friendships, romantic relationships and family all work better with generosity as well.
We’d heard the message that you have to give to receive. And of course my technically oriented mind immediately switched the saying to “you can’t have an input without an output”. I immediately started realizing, our social and spiritual lives are like any physical system. Bad things happen when resources overflow. Therefore I knew right away I had to start experimenting with giving while receiving.
This was a tough decision for us. Neither of us had an income. My Grace's place of employment changed hands and made the decision to lay everyone off, just before the birth of our child. My health is not solid and therefore I had not been working. The thought of giving anything to anyone; the homeless, church, etc; it felt completely senseless and illogical.
We wanted to protect our reserves for the sake of our baby daughter. We figured God understood why we couldn’t give anything, and probably, he did. But I assume he knew, more importantly, instead of protecting the little we had and staying out on our own; we needed to be plugged into the web.
What happened after the service
We started giving regularly to the church. We also stated giving more to fiends who would give things to us. On the flip side, resources started coming into our lives that we’d never had experience with before. Money did multiply for us a bit, but we also started receiving things we need without having to buy them. Gifts were given and services came our way that we’d not yet seen.
I used to think of generosity as a binding point, a loss; you give something, you no longer have it. My partner and I were just a bit more generous than Ebenezer Scrooge. Now I see the image in my imagination of the web, the flow of God’s resources and how we got plugged into it. Now I have almost complete trust that God will return what we give. I don’t worry about the strategy of it because I don’t have the capacity to plan the universe’s resources.
Lately, it’s almost like a fun game. We give somewhere and wait to see what swings back in it’s place. It’s not out of arrogance or the belief that we just deserve something, it’s just a joy to know that God has our backs. It’s comforting to be confident in his ability to take care of all of us. It’s not just about money. It’s also about friendship, family and this ministry. I have no issues with God over losing time for sleep or hobbies while doing this work. I know it will come back to me in the form of good energy and acknowledgement in helping others.
The looming dangers of overflow
I’m imagining readers saying to themselves something like “This guy says our lives will not be fulfilling without being generous with our resources. But what about those who have a ton, yet give little to nothing back? They seem fine.”
Sure we see those who have seemingly disposable, endless resources. They often appear happy and calm, but check the news. Many of great financial and social influence are often buying their way into things they haven’t earned, and out of consequences they should have.
Those who engage in that behavior, they’re missing the key lesson that I mentioned in the first article in this series. In the context of God not giving us access to a great power and spiritual future, “He needs to see the kind of self-discipline that assures proper usage.”
So when the reserves overflow because of lacking generosity; no matter how well internal problems are covered up, you can’t have a worse problem than being held away from a positive eternity. And I’m quite sure, God will allow us to be greedy out of the need for education, the education that is supposed to come from consequence. But, God won’t fill our lives with spiritual power until we can give it back.
God’s return on his investment of me, the writer
There was another lesson I learned around the time I first engaged in generosity. It was about putting God first, then letting everything else fall in line. Grace and I put both of those plans into action. It’s been almost a year between the time we took those leaps of faith and the time this article was originally written.
I don’t know how to put this… Oh! My! God (giving praise, not using his name in vain)! Had I been prepared with the knowledge of what would change in our lives, before I was told to try these new things… I would have jumped all over the chance to not only put God first, but to become a conduit.
Resources have popped out of nowhere, or at least, came from parts of the web of God’s resources I can’t see. Sometimes we are able to find money just to survive; but when we can’t, other things are given for our survival so we don’t have to find the cash. Unusual retail deals are thrown our way, things that aren’t really supposed to happen and aren't given to the public. We find big discounts on places to stay through the generosity of others. We were able to purchase a car through a fluke that should not have happened, when we should have been turned down.
We got to travel across the country and back, also by fluke when we would have otherwise not been able to do it. That trip started the documentary I’m working on. On that trip we met people who’ve greatly improved our lives. We now have friends across the country and feel home bases in many states and cities.
The timing of these things has been uncanny. We could not have planned or carried them out ourselves. And this list is just the beginning. I can’t possibly explain all of the things that came our way once we changed our attitudes toward God.
Becoming a conduit is easy. You just stretch out your resources though a compassionate hand. I don’t just mean money; I mean anything you have to give like time, patience, wisdom, hugs, smiles, anything that can improve a situation or a life. Having faith that it will work may not be as easy. But this is one of those situations where pushing through the uncertainty is worth the reward.
As I said in the first article, we don’t own. We need to be grateful and giving, while operating in the context that what we have, we have because God has placed it in our lives. So when you help the web of resources flow, when you release parts of what you’re given, God tweaks the web and brings back what you need.
Being a Conduit (Pt 1/3) (article) -In order to create the systems that run a universe, the one in charge has to have the ultimate view of what pieces fit where.
Being a Conduit (Pt 3/3) (article) - Resources that support the first two articles about being generous.
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