A few years ago I was surprised to receive a thank-you letter, and amazed to find a check for $50 in the envelope. I pondered the possibilities this little windfall offered: Lunch at a restaurant with my girlfriends, a guilt-free visit to the book section at Ollie’s, or a new wardrobe from the thrift store.
Then I recalled that my friends Lucy and Dan, Bible translators in Mali, Africa, had mentioned a fund to buy grain for nationals affected by drought and famine. Their letter said that $15 would feed an African family for a month. Remembering “God loves a cheerful giver,” (2 Corinthians 9:7) I decided I could cheerfully give $30, and still have $20 left to spend on something fun for myself. I quickly sent a check, since the need was immediate.
And what did I do with the remaining $20? I have no idea what happened to that cash, as I experienced the truth of Proverbs 23:5: “Cast but a glance at riches, and they are gone, for they will surely sprout wings and fly off to the sky like an eagle.” My fun money sprouted wings and flew away in one dollar increments. It saddened me to realize I missed the opportunity to invest more in my Father’s business.
This December, I again witnessed the phenomenon of winged ones (and fives and tens and twenties). Unexpected dough arrived from three different sources, making Christmas shopping easier, and funding a much needed gad-about day with my good friend Robin. But too much of the money flew away while I thought only of my family, my friends, and myself. I forgot to bless those outside my little circle.
I’ve often contemplated the relationship between guilt, gratitude, and giving. I’d like to figure it out and write about it. Maybe there’s a New Year’s resolution in there somewhere.
In the meantime, maybe you’d like to join me in this prayer:
Dear Father, Cultivate in your children a spirit that responds generously to those who hurt and need, and give us wisdom to use all the gifts you give us to the glory of Jesus Christ. Amen.