This past Sunday, I deeply enjoyed watching Paul Draper lead the Children’s Time in worship. He defined “sharing” as cutting the slice of cake in half and giving one half away. “Generosity,” however, is giving away the whole slice of cake. Wow – how simple! Even better, what motivates that generosity is knowing and loving the other person fully. What a great example/definition. Yet I confess that it took a long journey for me to comprehend it.
My parents both grew up without fathers in the midst of the Great Depression. They grew up wondering if and how the bills would get paid and where the next meal would come from. That scarcity mindset stayed with them throughout their lives, even though our household was solidly middle class. At some point, my sister and I realized they had passed that scarcity mindset on to us. Despite our middle-class upbringing, we discovered it was affecting every area of our lives – and limiting the love and joy in our lives.
When Cindi and I felt the Spirit’s nudge to get serious about tithing, my internal resistance demonstrated to me the power that scarcity mindset had over me. I did not want to do it! It took a lot of prayer, and God’s loving response, to change that. With great gentleness, as I struggled to share more of my “slice of cake,” God opened my eyes to see all that had been shared with me. I began to acknowledge all the ways that my family had blessed me. I was filled with deep gratitude when church members covered the cost of repairs or helped with medical bills. Amazingly, our trip to Israel was paid for by those going with us. It seemed that whenever our need was greatest, God raised up someone to help. When we moved to Austin, members of Bethany lined up our home financing and our realtor returned his commission to help us buy needed furniture – which we still treasure. Our children were blessed with teachers and mentors in the faith. They had the opportunity to serve through several mission efforts, even travelling to El Salvador and Africa. Each blessing God poured out on us pushed that scarcity mindset further from my heart. As we were freed to become more generous in supporting God’s mission, God was always ever more generous to share blessing with us.
All of which eventually led to the day when I participated in the dedication of the last water system to be completed in the Matete ADP at around the same time we were preparing to move into Bethany’s new worship center. How amazing and wonderful to be a little part of God’s mighty work touching thousands of lives in Kenya and in Austin. I could almost hear the heavenly “Hallelujah!” What an overwhelming blessing God shared with me that day, not because of my generosity, but because of Bethany’s generosity!
It has been a long journey. But God has patiently led me from a heart that only reluctantly shared a few crumbs to a heart that is constantly amazed and overjoyed at the feast set before it. I hope and pray that you will join me in that journey. God has so much that He wants to pour out upon Bethany. I sense that His Spirit is waiting, hovering over us until we are ready to fully open our hearts to Him. For me, opening my heart fully went with opening my hand – and taking His. May your journey of generosity also lead you to placing your hand, your heart, your life in His hand. May you discover the great blessing that God desires to pour out in your life. And, together, may we be blessed to be a little part in God’s mighty work at Bethany.