Thanksgiving and giving thanks is not just something we can do during a given season. Giving thanks is a worthwhile, spiritual practice. When we approach each day with thanksgiving and gratitude, our hearts and souls feel lighter. When we ask God to help us to be more giving, we can open up our true potential and increase the positive impact we can make on the world.
There are two parts to this word, however, thanks and giving. The word thanks is a noun and giving is a verb. Giving requires action.
We live in challenging times. Since Robert lost his job, we have had to make some huge adjustments and micro manage our purchases. It seems that every time we go to the grocery store the prices have gone up. We feel like commodity brokers when it comes to filling up our tanks with gasoline! Will we time the market right when we have to fill up? The prices vary substantially from one moment to the next. We are always trying to fill up our tanks when the prices are the lowest. It’s kind of become a game, but not one I want to play forever! Which brings me back to the giving part of thanksgiving.
It’s natural and common to pray for more finances. It’s also easy to say, “I’d give more if I had more to give.” But that statement goes out the window when you read the passage from Mark, Chapter 12 and verses 41-44:
He sat down opposite the treasury, and watched the crowd putting money into the treasury. Many rich people put in large sums. A poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, which are worth a penny. Then he called his disciples and said to them, “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the treasury. For all of them have contributed out of their abundance; but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, all she had to live on.”
Before panic sets in and you interpret this passage as giving all that you have away, consider that the widow gave her complete trust over to God. As my pastor says, “She was all in.” She gave this money because she trusted that God would provide for her.
When it comes to giving, the two assets we seem to have in short supply are time and money. If finances are tight, our time seems even tighter. Volunteering takes an investment of time too. Working, taking care of our own families and taking care of aging parents leaves very little time to give. So, how can we be more giving? I have been asking God how I can be more giving and God has answered in the usual, unexpected and surprising way.
It’s hard to believe that Robert and I have been married sixteen years. When we merged our households, we had many duplicate items; beds, refrigerators, couches, etc. (You can read about the deluge that overwhelmed our basement and the before and after pictures.)
When I made the decision that I couldn’t live with the clutter any more, a friend popped up in need, having lost her home and possessions. We were able to supply her with a lot of items that were serving no purpose in the basement, so it was a blessing to be able to give those items to her.
A similar situation has happened again. Robert’s father had to downsize and move into smaller living quarters. He was 95 years old at the time. So, you can imagine (or maybe you can’t!) what a lifetime of accumulating represents. We have had to sort through a lot of furniture and items that wouldn’t make it to their new home. There just was not any room.
Our home is very small and we could not take a lot of the items either, but we were going to have to take them for the time being. With no notice, a delivery truck had been arranged to deliver a lot of items. Robert and I were scrambling to rearrange our schedules and figure out where we were going to put everything. The basement that was cleared out was ready to be invaded once more. Just as I was getting ready to leave to take my mother to the doctor, Robert called the delivery people for one last confirmation and was told that they were not going to come after all. While it was maddening, it was also a blessing not to have to deal with it at that moment.
But God had another plan for the items. Two days later, an award was presented at church to a woman whose church had been displaced after a developer bought up the land where they were located. They worshipped at our church until their new church was built. As part of their ministry, they help people get back on their feet when they’ve lost a job or have fallen on hard times. What they are in desperate need of are any household items from cooking utensils to furniture and appliances. Robert and I looked across the choir stalls at each other with a knowing look of what we were going to do with the items we were acquiring. After the service I made a bee line over to Karla to tell her how we wanted to help.
That delivery truck was cancelled for a reason. We were supposed to learn about Karla! I had asked God for a way that I could be more giving and this opportunity presented itself. My prayer wasn’t answered in the form of giving a financial gift. It was simply answered as a way to give.
When we are aware, open, and pay attention, God speaks to us in many ways. That’s why I am an advocate for learning to be still. (That link will take you to the true meaning of be still, which if you haven’t read it, will surprise you.)
When we ask, we can expect to receive an answer. Matthew 7:7 says, “Ask, and it will be given you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you. For everyone who asks receives, and everyone who searches finds, and for everyone who knocks, the door will be opened.”
I had another experience this same weekend that I will share in another post, since this one has gone quite long already! This will explain another way to give.
Let me leave you with this message from Galatians, Chapter 6, verses 9 and 10:
So let us not grow weary in doing what is right, for we will reap at harvest time, if we do not give up. So then, whenever we have an opportunity, let us work for the good of all, and especially for those of the family of faith.
I can’t finish this post without saying that I am thankful for you, the readers of my blog and my emails. You are a blessing to me.
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Wishing you peace and blessings.
Until next time…