My heart goes out to friends and new acquaintances. I wish I could give each one something beautiful, something perfectly suited to you, and to all the others. Something that would exactly meet your needs. So I'm thinking over what that gift should be.
Would you allow me to think aloud?
I've always wanted to give gifts. When I was a school girl, my form of play was to make presents out of whatever odd things I found around the house, and then to play at Christmas or birthday parties.
In my teens I daydreamed about discovering hurting people and introducing them to Jesus Christ, who I was certain, could transform their lives. Together we would make over houses to be their homes, and give them meaningful careers. (My novel, Ruthe's Secret Roses, lives out that dream).
After I became a young working woman myself, I discovered that the scenes I had visualized did not come to pass so easily. I was quite disappointed, but I adapted my daydreams to more practical make-overs. I yearned to see sickly people healed, the unemployed happy in well-suited jobs, and to match the lonely ones with the right people to marry and start happy families.
Sure I was idealistic and romantic. I wanted everyone to be beautiful and happy, and I desired to be the one who would give these perfect gifts to them on a silver platter. I believed I'd get my dreams myself soon, so I was free to see to everyone else's blessings first.
About three decades have rolled by, and though I've lost my naivety and have given up on a lot of frills and details of my dreams, and I've accepted that my own dreams were not God's plan for me, I still find myself desiring to give generously to others. Just now I'm thinking this all through to see how my attitudes have changed.
No longer do I expect to marry a rich man who will give me all my desires on a platter, including the ability to give away huge gifts of money. No longer do I plan to adopt every unwanted child that enters my life, or renovate and beautify every crumbling old house I see. But over two decades as my parents' caregiver, and living on next to no income, I've discovered that I do have many beautiful gifts to give, and I have access to a huge resource where I can take people to get their needs met.
Dad was the dreamer, and Mom the practical planner. Somehow I have absorbed both now, and knit them into one approach. I've become a goal-setter, and a business woman (although some friends think I'm pretending), and I've gained some useful skills and practical ideas for earning larger sums of money myself, researching more carefully the best places to give financial gifts to, so that the most will be accomplished for God's glory.
I still would like to see people well and happy, but that is not my first priority any more. Their happiness will be the gravy we can make from the drippings of the larger goals and changes we will aim for in their lives.
I'm back to seeing that the greatest need people have is to know the Lord Jesus personally, as their own Saviour and Master. They need that relationship before they need fine clothes, or even a home and a job. Jesus is well able to meet all their smaller needs. He has met mine! He has truly become my dearest and most precious Confidant, my resource for every need, no matter how small or large! The very best gift I can give anyone is to introduce them to Jesus, and help them to get well-established in that relationship.
Though I've been quite limited financially, I've discovered that I can give gifts of my time and skills - making for a busy but happy life. I practice giving these so that when the time comes that I am entrusted with large sums of money, my giving habits will be firmly in place.
I do believe I will be earning handsome incomes - because that's part of my plan, and I'm working my plan. Dreams of giving to friends and ministries which will see that the gospel message of God's love and salvation plan reaches many parts of the world still fill the back of my mind, as does the desire to give generous gifts to friends. However, I have matured and know that people don't stay made-over if they haven't had a conversion and spiritual transformation. Now I'm more selective about whom I wish to bless with big gifts. The truth is, some individuals cannot be entrusted with large gifts at once.
Some people don't give readily because they feel a twinge of pride when they are offered a gift; they assume others will also feel affronted. Perhaps that is why true selfless, glad generosity is a rare sight.
At this point I am still receiving gifts and missionary support, a lesson in humility, but I've come to understand that to be able to be a wise and generous giver like I want to be, I need to learn to receive graciously too.
Meantime, I am gathering information about missions and ministries that are worthy of support, and have wise and sensible leadership. I'm working on this website, called Generosity-Alive, so that others, who would like to give sensibly as well, can benefit from some pre-screening of these worthy causes.
In fact, if you want to run ahead of me in giving, I will cheer you on! It will be such a joy! That joy will be a beautiful and perfect gift for us!
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