As the holiday season approaches I like, as many of us do, to reflect back on the past year — remembering all the things that my family and I experienced. It seems my reflection on the events of this year, are very much tied to the events of the year before. While, some may have already heard this story, I think it is worth sharing here again, because this year has been a continuation of God’s work in our lives and it continues to amaze me.
Two years ago, during the Stewardship season, Kristi and I had been praying about how much we would pledge for the upcoming year when God put on hearts that we should commit to the full tithe. After looking at our finances, we were not sure how that would work, but we decided to trust that God would provide and protect us. Then a few months into the year, Kristi accepted what we thought was an amazing opportunity for a new job that required us to move to Virginia. We thought this job was a blessing and began to make plans for the move.
After a series of really hard events, a month after accepting the job, Kristi and I both found ourselves without jobs. Throughout all of the trying situations over the next few months we trusted God above all else and continued to give whatever we could. During this time we found our hearts being drawn closer to God; knowing His plan for us was greater than we could dream or imagine. After a few months, we were both working again.
God’s protection and provision for us was not fully visible until this year. As Kristi’s new job unfolded; we saw it was full of possibilities and joy that we know we would not have had in Virginia. My job, while it appeared to be a hard schedule, provides a different sort of flexibility that God continues to reveal as a blessing. As I reflect on the events of this year, it is clear, that the hard situations of the year before were a necessary part of our growth; and our decisions and priorities of this year are clearly a result of having grown in our trust and faith.
It began two years ago with trusting Him with our finances — but we have seen that this trust has grown far wider into a deeper relationship with the Lord in virtually every aspect of our lives. This deeper relationship has given us a joy of life that we are amazed at each day. We continue to look back and thank God that His plan was greater and we are always amazed how it all began with our decision to trust Him and tithe.
As I was praying about what to write — God put on my heart that I should talk about the joy He has shown us; and He gave me the idea to talk about giving joyfully. I know I should not have been; but I was amazed at how God works, when I heard Casey talk on Sunday about giving joyfully. It confirmed the message that God wanted me to hear and to share with you.
I was particularly struck by the verse, 2 Corinthians 9:7, “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.” This verse strikes me because I used to be a reluctant giver; even after we made the tithe commitment, I was reluctant each month. But as we tried to align our life with God’s will and put Him at the center of our lives — I no longer considered giving as something we have to do as a duty, but it is a way that we worship the Lord with joy.
God does not want me to come to church begrudgingly to worship Him, in the same way, I came to know over the past two years, He does not want me to give begrudgingly either. God desires that when I give, I do so out of dedication to Christ. This shift in my attitude towards giving — has truly brought blessing on blessing — but the most overwhelming is the blessings of joy that come from a deeper relationship with Him.