I do not believe one can settle how much we ought to give [to others and to charity]. I am afraid the only safe rule is to give more than we can spare. In other words, if our expenditures on comforts, luxuries, amusements, etc., is up to the standard common among those with the same income as our own, we are probably giving away too little. If our charities do not at all pinch or hamper us, I should say they are too small. There ought to be things we should like to do and cannot do because our charities expenditure excludes them.–C.S. Lewis
It’s a recurring theme over the past few years and telling the specific stories never gets any easier. No matter how many times I try I can’t seem to write about them eloquently. I want to tell them again and again, because they all point to God and His faithfulness. The acts of “charity” to our family have given us the very manna to stay alive and move forward each day. I want to show my gratitude without using the same overused words. I want to give God ALL the glory, and in my weakness I don’t really know how to shine all this on Him.
This is one of my favorite stories of generosity and provision.
The week before we headed to Maryland for my first brain surgery and fusion we had scraped together enough for a fifth of the down payment my surgeon was asking for through my parents and several other gifts. We had several hundred dollars in our checking account for gas and food while we were gone. I had this crazy peace God was going to come through for us. The week wore on, and I began to pack my bags and get a little nervous. I knew our support system was worn thin from the past couple of years and a woman who always had a headache and could barely walk but looked fine for all intents and purposes was not the most engaging fundraising idea especially compared to Danica’s adorable face.
I was in bed in my oh so dark bedroom curled up in a ball with the weight of the world crushing my brain, head and neck. I wondered if I would even make it to my surgery date. This sounds dramatic unless you really understand how dangerous my situation was. My dad opened the door at the top of the stairs and threw down a letter. It was from a girl who lives in Virginia who I used to work with. I had only met her twice because I telecommuted states away. Over the past months she had begun to faithfully pray for me and encourage me through facebook and email. I opened the card and a check folded in half fell out. I read the note first. She wrote how she couldn’t sleep because she was praying about a way her family could help us. She said in the night she heard God tell her clearly to “DRAIN IT.” She obeyed. I looked at the check. It was a strange number. I found out later it was every penny this family had in their checking account. It was just shy of what we needed to pay the entire deposit. I was shaking. How in the world could someone give like this? This family was not wealthy. This friend works from home with two small children just to make ends meet. I immediately knew God was completely behind my surgery. He had funded it through the most unlikely of places.
It took me awhile before I could finally find a few words to call this friend. I was even more blessed by her back story to the giving. She shared her own fear of not having enough and God’s work in her life to put her treasure where she says her heart belongs. She talked about how she had telephoned her husband the morning after her prayer, and he too had to commit this huge gift to the Lord before the check she had already written could go in the mail. (Ladies, can you imagine calling your husband and telling him God told you in the night to empty your checking account?) She told me how over the last two quarters they had paid all their credit card debt off by careful spending and holding back some tithe. When the card balances were at zero they didn’t up their tithe. She later realized what they sent us was almost exactly the amount they had kept back. God already had this provision planned long before either of us knew we would be part of it.
God says in 2 Corinthians 9:6-7, “Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.”
I’ve had nine surgeries since that extravagant gift in 2011. God has always provided just enough through the kindness and generosity of many who have come along side us in this journey.
I will never look at tithing the same way again.
This is Kingdom giving.
This is Kingdom living.
Soli Deo gloria.
Photography by Cindee Snider Re. Used with permission.