We don’t learn to be generous as well until we experience it from others.
I thought I’d learned that lesson well during the years I lived with my parents as their caregiver. No salary or regular income, just trusting the Lord, but in the weeks before Christmas especially, I would receive numerous gifts tucked into Christmas cards from my pen pals, friends and relatives near and far away.
It was a bit humbling, but so encouraging too! It meant that I could buy stamps to send out my homemade Christmas cards and letters, which were my gifts to my friends. Often there would be enough cash so I could buy little gifts for Mom and Dad. Some years I would get enough buy something extra to improve my long room down in the basement. Gradually, over the years it looked a little better and better.
Sometimes I would remind myself that God wanted to teach me first to be a good recipient of generosity, before He would put me in the role of a generous giver. So I learned lessons like; all these gifts came from Him, and to be sure to say a hearty “thank you” in my next correspondence with the giver. I felt that they would also appreciate knowing how I had used that gift. Especially if it was something practical and useful for me.
Mom died in 1997, and after Dad died in 2007 I moved into the city, Saskatoon; I recall driving along in the car Dad had given me on his deathbed, and telling the Lord, that I thought I was now ready to learn the art of “giving.” (Yes, forgetting that I’d already learned countless lessons in giving of myself, my time, my energy).
It has taken another seven years of being a part-time missionary and starting a small business, and ever so gradually making enough to support myself. Of course I’ve always tithed and given offerings, but now the numbers look better (to me), and I am learning to give wisely and discretely, even withholding when I sense undue pressure, but… It seems God’s generosity through my friends has not stopped, and I’m constantly humbled to see how He meets my needs before i even realize I have them.
In the last couple of months one friend, who is generous to a fault, has blessed me with a new Bible and a fur coat – which turns out to be a huge comfort on chilly nights when my little ol’ house is too cold! This week the brother of a dear pen pal (now deceased about three years), sent a Christmas card with a wad of cash!
My first thought was that now I could bless others and enjoy sending some to various friends in need! Last night I did my bookkeeping for the week, and realized that my current utility and phone bills were higher than usual, I’d forgotten about an annual bill that is due, and another business bill will be due in January, for which I had not set anything aside. Oh no!
Our dear Father-God was aware that these things were coming up, and that even though I had worked extra hours for a client in November, and received more in payment than usual, I was not up to all the expenses that were around the corner. So, as He has done so often in the past, God prompted this brother to send the gift in time to meet all my obligations. Plus, I can still take off my tithes and offerings first.
Truly, I cannot out-give our loving Father! I’m still learning to be generous from Him.