We cannot do everything. God's reign is not only beyond our efforts, it is beyond our seeing and knowing. We plant seeds, knowing that they hold hope for the future. We lay foundations that will need further development. There is a sense of liberation, however, in realizing that. We can do something, and we can do it very well. We can take that first step knowing that we may never see the end of the road, the results of actions, the recipients of our giving. We receive and offer the gift of hope. The harvest will come.
The most valuable thing that we as human beings possess is trust or faithfulness between persons. This is also our most fragile possession. The NIV rendering of 1 Corinthians 4:2 is “Those who have been given a trust must prove faithful.” We might define faithfulness as “love that lasts,” that can survive tests and difficulties.
Consider how a first and perhaps negative impression of another person changes when you learn more about that person and his or her circumstances. Consider how hearing your faith story modifies a person’s impression of you as well.
Many people today are afraid to give because they fear that they will outlive their resources. A few years ago, an eighty-year-old woman with assets in the multimillion-dollar range was asked to make a six-figure gift to a ministry. She declined, stating that she did not want to make such a large commitment at her age because she did not know if she would outlive her financial assets.
Student loans? Broken down cars? How am I ever going to pay this off? Those are some pretty normal reactions to debt. What strikes me though as I think about these questions, is a reminder of the way God is present even in the face of our stress, uncertainty, doubt, and fear, all of which can surface when thinking about money and debt.
Leah and her son Nick followed their Thursday routine of setting the table for their evening meal. Late work days, school activities, open skate nights, church choir rehearsal, and babysitting for friends meant mealtimes were seldom relaxed. By design, Thursdays were different. They reserved that one day each week for a quiet meal and conversation.
In a sermon at the 2012 Symposium on Preaching and Stewardship sponsored by the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), Dr. James Forbes challenged the church with some tough questions. "Can we afford to do right anymore? Do the just thing? Care for those whose mortgages are playing havoc with their sense of well-being? Take care of the hospital programs for children?
Investing our resources for the sake of the kingdom is risky. It takes courage. As we sow the seeds of our time, talent, and treasure, some will fall on deaf ears. Others will fall on ears which are somewhat receptive. And our resources will be sown in places where some will accept them and use them and benefit from them until the worldly attitudes of society creep up around them. We will be disappointed, frustrated, even ridiculed at times.
The T-shirts said, “Will Starve for Food.” Every member of the youth group wore one during their World Vision 30-Hour Famine lock-in. We were fasting together, 30 hours with nothing but juice, to heighten our understanding of world hunger and deepen our commitment to God’s justice.
The colors and patterns of the pottery for sale at the San Ildefonso Pueblo in New Mexico were still in the forefront of my mind when we discovered we had locked the keys inside our rental car.