Simply tucked away in a beautiful note from a dear friend and mentor. No terms or conditions. No reason for sending.
Just fifty dollars and a few words of encouragement on a God timed day. I can’t remember why I needed the money.
I just remember I did.
Our kids were little. Money was tight and this fifty dollars was a little touch of manna from heaven. And I remember thinking, “How can I ever pay her back?”
What could I give to this woman who seemed to have everything.
A small voice of reason whispered quietly from my soul.
“You can’t pay it back, but you can pay it forward.”
Immediately I decided, whenever it was in my control, I would commit my life to paying her generosity forward whenever I got the chance.
Shortly after, the earthquake in Haiti occurred. My oldest daughter felt burdened to help. In those days, we didn’t have the means to make a difference in Haiti, but it opened my eyes to need in my community.
Later in the week, we signed up to prepare meals at the homeless shelter. I couldn’t give financially, but I could give my time. I could give encouragement. And I could prepare a hot meal.
In return I learned giving is about so much more than money. It’s about taking inventory of my time, talent and energy and saying, “How can I use these resources to benefit another?”
Time progressed and we were able to begin giving financially in addition to our time, yet found and continue to find our time and efforts given are so much more valuable in the overall picture than the sum written on any check.
Because our experience brings encouragement and valuable skills. Our willingness to help relieves the burden from those carrying loads too large for their frame.
As for me, I am learning to live my life with an open hand. Generosity reduces my need for overpowering control. It prepares me to trust God more than my resources. Generosity teaches me to value community over commodity.
Depending on my season in life, I may or may not have much to give. But God can use my little and multiply it into something great. I just have to trust him with it. I have to be willing to let go.
I’m not always willing to let go.
Yet when my heart is willing, God is too. He will take my small yes to stretch and condition me.
And in the process, I remove myself from the center of my world and place God in his rightful place.