Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Giving vs Sacrifice, OR When Giving is Sacrifice, OR What Do You Do With That Pledge Card?

Thinking out loud today.  You see, I'm desperately praying over the pledge card carefully tucked inside my Bible.  So many things going through my heart and mind.  Wanting to give.  Not sure how much to give.  Dealing with past giving.  And lack of past giving.  Fear.  Duty. Excitement.  Love.

Unlike past pledge cards, this time I have no husband to defer to.  The buck stops with me.  Of course, it should have before, too, to some extent, but that's another story.

Now I find myself wondering what the Lord requires of ME.  I see how He has provided abundantly to me.  Not that I'm rolling in the dough, or even finding a balance in my account at the end of each month.  Sometimes finding the money to pay a bill is hard.  Yet over and over, our needs are met.  By God.  Big, Mighty, giving-more-than-I-deserve God.  What do I do with that? 

Oh!  I'm thankful!  Believe me.  I know EXACTly where it's all coming from.  It would totally baffle me if I didn't know I had a faithful God.  Actually, it still baffles me.

But now I have to make a promise, and I'm trying not to be anxious, but I'm gripped by all that God is doing in my church, through the people there, and I'm sitting back with my children, soaking it all in.  And wondering.

"What do you require of me, Lord?"  I know He doesn't need my money what He's given to me to build that building, or buy that land.  I know that many struggle with the "legalities" of tithing.  I never did "before".  Then I spent 12 years married to someone who had different ideas.  Ideas which, by default and subjection, became my own.  And while it's not hard for me to see the lies now, it's a bit harder to shed their affects on my thinking.

Fear?  Sneer.... I don't like fear.  It has crippled enough of my life.  Yet, God used it to bring me to a better relationship with Him, yet it is a constant in Satan's economy.  While I may recognize it, apply Biblical principles in disarming it, and make it powerless in GOD's economy, it is still creepy.  Creeps in here.  Creeps in there. 

So, I want to give.  My kids keep asking if we are going to give.  I keep expecting God to put some magical number on the wall for me.  How much is too much?  What is my "widow's mite"?  Why is this so hard?!!  

The thing that I keep resisting is asking the question, "What can I afford?".  I can't "afford" anything.  That's where the sacrifice will come.  That's where my relationship comes full circle with Him, and I hear that still, small voice say, "Do you trust me?  Do you really trust me?  How much do you trust me?"   

I don't pretend to be good at that.  There is very little about this giving/sacrifice thing that I understand or have practiced faithfully.  I just know He keeps giving to me.  Don't get me wrong.  I don't feel guilty.  I feel amazed.  Unworthy.  Amazed...  

In my head I know there is no right answer.  I get "stewardship", as in spend wisely with a purpose that would be pleasing to the Lord.  I get "example", as in be a good example to little eyes that are watching.  I get "blessing", as in it's more blessed to give, than to receive.  But getting it all to come together is the question of the day.

If God is no author of confusion, and if prayer is a constant, and if His word is the foundation, then if I choose THAT, if I choose HIM, the rest will come.  That I know.  But the choosing...

Part of me says "promise nothing", then anything given will be a boon.  Then the Lord tugs on me again:  "You can trust me!"  But I'm not comfortable "there" yet.  But He wants me to be.  My head says I have nothing left to give, my heart says sacrifice.  

The world says "keep".  The Lord says "give".  Why am I so wretchedly selfish?  I don't want this battle within me!  Yet I know, the battle is the Lord's.

In the end, it will be in hindsight that all the answers are revealed.  God is God, after all!  
 (She smiles knowingly, as she remembers.)