It’s that time of year again. The time where people go out searching for comfort in any form they can find it. Whether it be in those deliciously southern comfort foods, the comfort of going home to be with family, or the comfort of wrapping that scarf around your neck one more time to keep that chill from sneaking its way in. I’ve been thinking a lot lately about what brings people comfort, what, for many years was the root of my own comfort. And I have found the wrinkle in the comfort- the very thing that so many people root their comfort in, is the same thing that makes those same people so uncomfortable.
Let me backtrack a little. Recently I was thinking about how much life has changed over the past year. How this time last year I was in such a different place, physically, emotionally, spiritually. So much has changed. If ever I had a shadow of a doubt, this past year showed to me over and over again that my God is a God who answers prayers. He is faithful, He is loving, He is the greatest place of comfort. He is everything, for every moment, that I’ll ever need. For me to truly get to this place it required getting uncomfortable. Seriously uncomfortable. Financially uncomfortable.
I haven’t shared this with anyone- part of me knows why and part of me doesn’t. I’ve lived most of my life with a spirit of humility. I’ve always lived out that sacrifices, offerings, “good deeds” belong between myself and God, and that sharing those things with others makes them less about God and more about myself (and let’s be real, we all know one of those people, the one who does something just to receive praise from others, and we all probably roll our eyes the same way at them). Yet, I occasionally find myself hearing or reading about others sacrifices and being so inspired, so touched, so in awe of how God works in others hearts. I’m hoping that’s how others will read my story. Don’t see the me in it, see the God in it.
Around this time last year God blessed Clint and I with a spirit of generosity. I say he blessed us with the spirit because anyone is blessed with the means to be generous. Anyone, has something to give, but not everyone has the spirit to give. As two newlyweds living off one salary I’d say we learned that God will place the spirit of generosity on even those who appear to have so little.
Without getting too detail oriented (because really, if you’re looking to get an amount out of me, you should probably start this thing over and remember, it’s not about me..) we gave, and we gave, and we gave bigger than either of us had ever given before. I found myself feeling so conflicted. You see, I have faith in God. I will let him take the reigns in every moment of life. Yet, I have pride. I have greed. And only God truly knows the bounds of my envy. Yes. I want what others have. The adorable house, the new car, the really really cute new pair of boots. I want the Christmas with the monogrammed Pottery Barn stockings. I want, I want, I want. On one hand it can feel so vulnerable to share those things, to admit how truly materialistic of a life I can live. To express how frequently I look outward and admire, rather than inward. On the other hand, it can feel so freeing. So liberating. So when it came time to remain obedient to the spirit of generosity God had placed on our hearts, it was especially difficult for me. With every dollar that we chose to give, I found myself slipping further and further away from all those things I looked towards. It was hard, and scary, and I believe that God knows if it were not for Clint being the one to actually send those checks on their way, I never would have given the way we did. I am confident that God created my husband with a heart of unrelenting generosity just for me, He is so intentional.
When all was said and done, and when the new year rolled in and every bit we’d given had been pulled from our account, we had officially given away more than we kept for ourselves. Slightly crazy, probably a bit irresponsible, terribly scary, but 100% obedient. I found myself in a place of financial discomfort. Not only had we just given away most of what we had, I was still feeling helplessly unemployed and now our financial safety was almost entirely eliminated. I often think I don’t know how we made it through that season of life financially, but I do. I was always under the impression that when you give, something is taken away. But His word shares the truth,
“And whoever gives one of these little ones even a cup of cold water because he is a disciple, truly, I say to you, he will by no means lose his reward.”Matthew 10:42
We didn’t lose because we gave. Oh, how we gained. I’m not saying God takes one and gives you back ten. But what I am saying is when you’re left with one, you start to appreciate every penny, nickel and dime God does give you. And like I said in my last post, when you can praise him for every little bit, he’ll begin to entrust you with a lot.
This time a year ago we had intentionally left ourselves with very little. We had not much to our names, but oh, how our spirits were full. Oh, how rich our faith became. My comfort had been rooted in finance. My roots had been chopped and they were searching, looking for a place to grow. So I watered them with faith, with fervent prayer. And what do you know? They found themselves a place to grow.
“Therefore as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, having been firmly rooted and now being built up in Him and established in your faith, just as you were instructed, and overflowing with gratitude. See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ…”
When you give in faith, nothing is taken away. When I found myself getting farther and farther from all my worldly desires all I had to do was turn around. With each step I’d been getting closer and closer to God all along. I’ll be honest, it took me many months to realize this. Because let’s remember, this is real life we’re talking about people. It’s not like the movies where the results present themselves at the end with the perfect soundtrack and montage. In real life you live out those hard moments of doubt. The difficult moments of feeling like you weren’t a joyful enough giver. You can go on for weeks on end asking yourself if you did it right. You can even end up like me. Where it takes a year and the most golden of all the golden sunsets to open your eyes to see how purposefully God had His hand in it. Because it was when that sun lit up the sky with the most perfect streaks of gold that I thought back to the generosity God called from us last year and I realized how He put me in a place of discomfort so that I would HAVE to turn to Him, so that He could come into my heart and shape it, reshape it rather, to understand what kind of generosity he had blessed me with.
I developed a generosity that is not rooted in the willingness to help others,
but rooted in a faith that God provides.
And truly, I would have given it all away if meant learning that. I have no doubt in my mind that if every heart was filled with that kind of generosity we could change the world. What if all just stopped being generous, but started getting uncomfortable?