This isn’t the column I planned to write. What I had in mind was a simple list of my favorite quotes on giving with a few comments in between. It seemed like a good way to end one year and start another, but it wasn’t to be. I should have known once I started entertaining The Fear of Giving idea that nothing else would work, but I hung onto that plan until I pulled out my quotation file and couldn’t find my list of giving quotations.
Yes the stock market is going up as I write this and unemployment is lower than it has been in years, but fear is in the air because no one knows what impact the seismic shift in our country’s leadership will have on our economic well-being after January 20, 2017. Not knowing what to expect is enough to make us wonder what we can really afford to give and that unknown can be a source of fear. So how can we deal with that fear and be faithful to the ministries and other charitable organizations we want to support?
All I have to do is look back at my own history to know I’ve been there before and survived. The first time Dave and I made a significant pledge to our church we weren’t sure how we would meet it, but we felt called to do it anyway. Frankly it was a big stretch for us, but it was also a good way to challenge ourselves, and we never missed a payment on that 3-year commitment.
Dealing with financial issues at work was another story. We owned and ran a small business and as it grew we needed an ever increasing credit line to cope with our cash needs. For years everything we owned except for Dave’s beat-up old green truck was pledged to the bank in case we defaulted on that loan. I lost a lot of sleep because of that liability which just kept increasing as our company grew. When times were tough, fear moved in and took up residence in my head. That’s when Psalm 56:3 became my mantra. Over and over again until I could let my fear go, I would say to myself, “When I am afraid, I will put my trust in Thee.” I knew I could not let fear rule my life, nor could we as a couple let it keep us from being the generous people we wanted to be. So we kept on keeping on, giving as we felt led to do so, trusting that we were answering God’s call to be generous with our resources.
It was during that time period when I found a prayer that Eleanor Roosevelt always carried in her purse. To this day, though it is yellowed with age, a copy of it is tacked up on the corkboard in my office where I see it often. It says, “Our Father, who has set a restlessness in our hearts and made us all seekers after that which we can never fully find . . . keep us at tasks too hard for us, that we may be driven to Thee for strength. Giving when I’m concerned what is going to happen to my income IF, is one of those times.
Eleanor’s husband, Franklin D. Roosevelt was elected to the presidency of our great country in 1932 during a difficult time in our nation’s history. The depression had reached its depth when he was inaugurated in 1933. Roosevelt did not avoid that issue in his inaugural address but faced it head on, reminding Americans that our “common difficulties” concerned “only material things.” “ The only thing we have to fear,” he said, “is fear itself.”
Then, as now, “The only thing we have to fear, is fear itself.”
How can we deal with The Fear of Giving and be faithful to the ministries and other charitable organizations we want to support? Pray fearlessly, live fearlessly, give fearlessly and step out in faith to be God’s hands and feet in the world in all the days that lie ahead.
Blessings for the Journey,