Friday, October 12, 2012

LITL: When Giving Up Isn't a Bad Thing

Now for a blog, after a fun filled morning. Remember that little incident I had with my windshield? (If not see Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is) Well I got it fixed today. Yay! And for a decent price too. And they vacuumed and washed all my windows and it is so pretty. :) Yeah, I'm a little excited. I even got new windsheild wipers for a great price at Fred's. 

But anyway, this is not a shopping post, although one of those is soon to come after I post this.  

This blog is actually about sacrifice. And coincidentally (yeah, right) the passage I studied this morning for BSF was about the offerings of Cain and Abel. A story most of you know, but just in case, here is a recap:

"Adam made love to his wife Eve, and she became pregnant and gave birth to Cain. She said, 'With the help of the Lord I have brought forth a man.' Later she gave birth to his brother Abel. Now Abel kept flocks, and Cain worked the soil. In the course of time Cain brought some of the fruits of the soil as an offering to the Lord. And Abel also brought an offering—fat portions from some of the firstborn of his flock. The Lord looked with favor on Abel and his offering, but on Cain and his offering he did not look with favor. So Cain was very angry, and his face was downcast. Then the Lord said to Cain, 'Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it.'” (Genesis 4:1-7)

This passage speaks to us about the attitude of giving. Who cares what Cain brought before God? There are various laws in the Old Testament pertaining to harvest offerings. What really matters is the way he brought it. God obviously already saw the state of Cain's heart, and he warned him about giving in to the sin of pride. 

This truth has recently come to be a much greater presence in our lives, as we have finally taken the leap faith to start tithing. I know, we're heathens. Married over a year and we are just now giving our tithe. But as I explained in The Math Doesn't Matter, letting go of control of our money situation is a very hard struggle for me. However, when we realized how convicted each of us were, we could put it off no longer. 


But you know what's awesome. When that check goes into the offering plate every two weeks, I don't flinch. I don't envision the power being cut off or my family starving. It makes me so... HAPPY. Weird. :P 

Paul writes to the Corinthians, "Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. 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. And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work." (2 Corinthians 9:6-8) It's true, I tell you! Beieve it or not, Paul knew what he was talking about. 

I mean, first of all, Paul knew quite a lot about sacrifice. He sacrificed ambition, career, fortune, friends, colleagues, safety, and even his life. But in all instances, Paul speaks of the joy and empowerment he gained through his work for the Lord. 

I have gained much by giving up, as well. I have actually gained more peace of mind in the realized truth that it isn't up to me to make the numbers work. It isn't up to my husband, either. The Lord provides for us, just as Paul says. And he provides abundantly. Months ago, I would not have imagined that we could afford to fix our windshield without months of notice. But a week and a half later, there it is, shiny and new. 

So I am working very hard to surrender control to the Lord. That even means giving up my sense of perfectionism in what I do. As some of you know,  I am a Missionary Candidate for Child Evangelism Fellowship. I am in the process of forming a support team of churches, groups, and individuals that agree to give and pray, monthly, quarterly, etc as they feel called. I am specifically raising money at the moment for a training session that will better prepare me to take on this process. (seem a little backwards to you? Yeah, me too.) But I'm trying to make it work.

Well step one of that process is to pick up the phone and call people, with the hopes of setting up an appointment to discuss the ministry and their involvement, whatever they may want it to be. 

For a while, I seemed to have a block, preventing me from dialing any numbers, even those of friend I KNEW were interested. It was as if I didn't think I could do it to the right satisfaction, because I had not had this training. My perfectionism is getting in the way. 

Finally, I did some praying, some study of the Word, and some talking to some friends and my CEF coach, and I picked up the phone. I set aside my own strength and knowledge and let God work. i think this may have been the difference between Cain and Abel. Cain planted and harvested those plants of his own sweat and time. He viewed it as his own work that made him right with God. However, the offering Abel brought,  he knew to have never been his in the first place. While he may have struggled to protect and keep up with the sheep, he pretty much sat and watched God raise them. God alone allowed him to be in right standing. 

So I set aside my power and my work, and what do I get? Fear? Disappointment? People slamming the phone back on the receiver? (figuratively, that is, Most of the people I called on their cell phone.) :P No I got joy.  On some occasions I reconnected with old friends and partners in ministry. Other times, I got to chat with people about their lives. It also allowed me not to feel so confined in my house all day. (When my husband drove to work, I was pretty much stuck and unable to drive my busted up car.) 

Joy. When Paul says we will receive abundantly when we give, he may not mean that we receive that in kind. I give up money, I get provision and peace of mind. I give up fear, I gain joy. A friend will be very pleased to see me quote her favorite verse here:

"For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid [or give us fear], but gives us power, love and self-discipline." (2 Timothy 1:7) She so beautifully describes that "sweet peace" she gains from giving up fear in her own blog: Fear. 

So friends, be in prayer for me as I do the work God has set before me. I am a long way from where I need to be (spiritually and financially), but I know that He can get me there. 

What have you handed over to God, and how have you received abundantly through it?

No comments:

Post a Comment