Friday, August 9, 2013

Caught in the Overflow of His Love

Photo credit: www.marvingermo.com

A few weeks ago, we were sitting in church listening to a sermon about tithing pulled from Malachi 3. Unlike some, tithing sermons and talking about giving money to the church do not bother me. I'm already sold. I'm on board. I'm a team player.

Talking about giving something that belongs to God anyway is fine by me. How could I ever withhold a measly tenth from Him when He has given us so very much?

So, there we were in church listening to the scriptures:
"Bring all the tithes into the storehouse so there will be enough food in my Temple. If you do," says the LORD of Heaven's Armies, "I will open the window of heaven for you. I will pour out a blessing so great you won't have enough room to take it in! Try it! Put me to the test! Your crops will be abundant, for I will guard them from insects and disease. Your grapes will not fall from the vine before they are ripe," says the LORD of Heaven's Armies. "Then all nations will call you blessed, for your land will be such a delight," says the LORD of Heaven's Armies.     - Malachi 3:10-12

And I believed it.

As we stood for the final closing prayer, I took my husband's hand and leaned over and whispered, "don't you see this in our life?"

He looked at me and nodded, "I do."

You see, I grew up in a pastor's home. Tithing is what we did...always. When I got married almost 15 years ago, it was an easy thing to continue because my husband was of the same belief on the subject.

So we've tithed....always.

It's been easy, really. Yes, there have been times when I've thought about the other things we could be doing with that money or how it would help us out of a bit of a financial scrape.

But, we've never withheld our tithe.

Ever.

And we've been so blessed.

Truly, amazingly blessed.

We have so much to be grateful for...two cars, a house, bikes, skates, basketball hoop, electronic devices, toys, travel, and more clothing and shoes than we need to be honest.

We are also rich in friends, love, family and so many more of those "intangibles."

By most of the world's standard, we are very rich. I know that.

But by the Western's world culture, we are merely "okay."

And that messes with my head sometimes.

We've chosen to be a one-income family so that I could stay home while the children are little. And now that we have made the choice to homeschool our family, I'm at home still.

We've always lived a bit close to the edge financially because of this decision. In fact, I didn't even know that living "paycheck to paycheck" was a bad thing until I heard the concept explained. That's pretty much how we have lived since we said I do all of those years ago. I didn't know there was anything different.

There is not a lot of extra at the end of the month with all that we are committed to financially and then those "extras" that crop up from time to time.

It's just how it is. But we have never truly gone without or have been financially devastated. Our "crops" have truly been "abundant and guarded from insect and disease."

He has sustained and protected us. I know this full well. And I revel in it.

But we are still trying to be "good stewards" with what we have been giving, and we have needed to tighten things up once again of late.

So, at the beginning of this summer we told the kids that unlike summer's past, we were going to be more conservative with our money. There weren't going to be season passes to the local water park, movies, out of town vacations, etc. Barring a few frugal and pre-planned activities, we would be hanging out at home.

And that's what we started out to do.

But then....

I stumbled across free movie tickets to "Despicable Me 2." Our family of 6 went and saw it for free in 3D -- something we would not have done if we had to pay the full price. Our local library launched their summer reading program and the kids all earned free passes to one of our local water parks. The day we went, I was rejoicing that I only had to pay for two adult passes when someone walked up to me in line and handed me a free ticket in one hand and a coupon for half off in the other. I'm not even kidding. Final price to get in for all six of us....$16.50.

And that was the beginning of free fries, smoothies, ice cream, reduced cost tickets to the "other" water park we were blessed to enjoy, another free movie premiere in 3D and much more. It has truly felt like "the windows of heaven have been opened."

My intentions of working on my direct sales business this summer did not pan out due to unforeseen commitments and time issues. So, I gave the business stuff to God and told Him that I would trust Him to lead me and to take care of it. And, wouldn't you know, in the last two weeks, I have had four opportunities to make sales that I did not even seek out!!

We have made sure to point these blessings out to our children and remind them of how generous God has been with us this summer. They have seen God at work firsthand. And it's been so good.

And then...He took it one step further.

He gave us a Kindle Fire HD!!

Actually, He gave it to our eldest daughter who was one of seven grand prize winners from that summer reading program which had provided water park tickets earlier in the summer.

Talk about being blown away. Talk about an "overflow" of blessings. It's almost a little embarrassing. It's humbling.

And I know that this isn't some formulaic thing. Obey God and do it just right so He will give you stuff. It's all about Love.

He gives to us because He loves and delights in us -- not because he "owes us" because we are following His command. It's all motivated by love. And it's that same love that compels me to give back to Him without restraint or grumbling. I do it out of Love.

It's not difficult at all.

Because when you realize that it's all His anyway and not only does He enjoy giving "good gifts to His children," He delights in it, it changes everything.

There is no sense of obligation. No expectation of "getting what's owed to us."

It's a true love and trust relationship. One that is always "enough" whether we are in a time of extravagant abundance or flexing our faith muscles when times are tighter.

I wouldn't want to live any other way.

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