By 9:00 a.m. it was already 80+ degrees and we were all drenched with sweat. It was our first day of work on the Jimmy Carter Blitz Build in LA, and there was no doubt it was going to be a hot one. All around me the sound of hammers rang out and saws sliced through the din of many voices as the walls went up.
When I turned from the window frame I was blocking to find another 2 x 4, I saw our Habitat homeowner-to-be coming toward me with a tray full of paper cups. Earlier that morning this gracious woman had said that she was overwhelmed to think that all of us would give up vacations and pay our own expenses to travel to Los Angeles to help her build her house.
“May I be the first to offer you the hospitality of my home,” she said, as she offered me a cup of cold water from her tray. The gift she thought was only water seemed more like communion wine to me, and the warmth of her invitation to take and drink from this cup turned a special moment into a holy one, a moment of grace unlike any I’ve ever experienced. She could have given us nothing because she couldn’t afford cold drinks, but instead she gave us tap water and showed us by example that it isn’t the gift that’s important, it’s the thought behind the gift.
How often do we hesitate to extend hospitality to others because our house isn’t just the way we want it to be, or because pancakes are all we can afford when we’d rather serve steaks?
“Volunteering moves people into the present and distracts the mind from the stresses and problems of the self,” said Stephen Post, founding director of the Center for Medical Humanities, Compassionate Care and Bioethics at Stony Brook University School of Medicine. My sister-in-law discovered that for herself when a few months after her husband died she summoned the energy to help a friend needing assistance. “I can’t believe how much better it made me feel to help someone else,” she told us, giving us an opportunity to share how much reaching out to help others had helped us when our son died. .
How often do we get so mired in our own pain, so bogged down with our own concerns, or so overwhelmed with our busy schedules and to-do lists that we fail to extend a hand to others needing assistance?
Giving, obviously, also applies to the donation of our financial resources to both charitable organizations and individuals in need of assistance. Luke 21:1-4 tells the story of the widow who put two cents in the offering plate. Jesus said that her gift was greater than that of the rich people who put in a lot, because she gave all she had.
How often do you hesitate to make donations because you don’t want others to see the size of your gift, or because you are afraid you won’t have enough for your own wants and needs if you do?
How will you know when you have enough? How will you know when you are giving enough?
How can we deal with The Fear of Giving and be faithful to the ministries and other charitable organizations we want to support? How can we learn to give of ourselves as well as our resources?
May 2017 be the year in which you learn to pray fearlessly, live fearlessly, give fearlessly and step out in faith to serve as God’s hands and feet in the world.
Blessings for the Journey,