a note on giving from one who fails to give sometimes

Posted: May 1, 2017 in Uncategorized

There’s a giant group (2,000+ fairly local people) who hold 3-day weekend spiritual retreats a couple of times a year; I’ve been a part of that group since the weekend after my Melanoma surgery, something like fifteen years ago.  My first time at that retreat was and continues to be a major force in my own spiritual formation – I would not be the same me, had I not gone that first time.

From time to time, I get a call asking if I want to be on (volunteer) staff for the retreat this time around.  Sometimes I say yes; just about as often I turn the offer down, mostly because it’s a bit of a commitment and if you know me, you know I tend to have a lot of commitments all the time.  Since I don’t want to offer my half-effort, I only sign on when I can fully offer myself.

Truth:  sometimes I say no because I am legit over-committed in the moment.  Sometimes I say no because I’m tired or overwhelmed at the time of the call, and while I always stop to pray before the YES, I don’t always involve God in the decision for the NO.  For the record, that’s not the way following Jesus is supposed to work.  (And I’m aiming to do better on that front, the next time the call comes!)

Regardless of my lack of total faithfulness on this front, I continue to get invited to participate.  (Note:  the actual following of Christ is an abundantly merciful and gracious experience; if your experience of following Him hasn’t washed you over in mercy and grace, if your experience is harsh and filled with condemnation and demands for perfection, maybe you’re following a person or somebody’s idea and not actually Christ.)  I am home today resting up after one such weekend, filled to overflowing from what I gave, so full of gratitude that it’s leaking out of me at every turn.

Today I am freshly reminded that we NEED to serve and help others, if we want to experience all the great stuff God wants to give us.  I’ve known this for a long time.  I watched my parents modeling it as I grew up.  My 12-step journey hammered into me that failing to take what I’ve been given and give it to others is a step backward for me – a step away from health and joy and freedom and a step toward the forces that left me needing the 12 steps.  My biggest spiritual gift is teaching; I have discovered countless times that until I give of myself by teaching others a concept or a technique or whatever, I am missing a level of understanding of that thing.  Teaching something ALWAYS clarifies it for me, shows me deeper things about it, ties it in to other stuff I know, and clears away some of my insecurity or tentativeness about that thing.  I get it best when I give it away.

I guess that’s another “God’s economy” thing, this business of the necessity to give if one wants to fully receive.  By human logic, seeking, taking, and focusing harder on what one wants would seem to be the most efficient path forward.  I am so grateful that God’s economy doesn’t work like human logic, aren’t you?

My encouragement to you:  if life isn’t working for you, if you can’t get what you need, if you can’t figure out what the heck God wants from you:  start giving and stop looking so hard for that thing you need.  It’s probably hidden inside the giving.

My pastor wrote a pretty cool manifesto that is a good place to start, if you’re interested but unsure how to get going.  It can be found here.


If you linked to this blog through Facebook and want to tell me/ask me something about what I’ve written here, please leave your comment below.  I’m away from Facebook for the month of May 2017 and I won’t know you asked or said something if you post it over there until I return in June.  

  1. love this thought provoking read and the Manifesto……that is just power in Who I am in Christ and moving it forward into transformation of Who He Has Called me to be……thank you

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