If you’ve attended The Mission Church at City of Refuge more than a few times, there’s a pretty good chance you have heard Pastor Bruce speak these words
You can never out-give God
The group who gathers at The Mission Church is a mix of demographics with people living in large, two-story homes; in a nursing home; in a homeless shelter; and in an apartment plagued by gang activity–yet the message is the same: Give Generously.
We are not only challenged to give when we have plenty, but to give when we don’t have enough.
There’s this story Pastor Bruce tells about a time when they had a few thousand dollars in their bank account and a big bill coming up. He was speaking at a fundraiser for a fledgling mission start-up. Even though the City of Refuge’s funds would hardly cover the bill he needed to pay, he felt God was asking Him to offer to match the amount of funds raised that night at the event. He was expecting them to raise a few hundred dollars. In a surprising turn of events, the tiny group raised $2,500–more than what was left in the mission’s bank account and definitely more than he had been expecting to match.
Still, it was God who had inspired him to make the offer and it was also God who had always provided in the past. He had faith that if he followed through on the offer he made, God would provide the funds they were needing, too.
The following week he was giving a tour of COR to a local businessman. At the end of the tour, the guy said he would like to make a donation and promptly wrote a check so large it covered the pledge and the bill with some money to spare.
This is not a one time story, but simply a pattern of giving Bruce lives through his family and through the mission. In the past few years, we have been inspired to give more, and to give even when it doesn’t always feel like the safest thing to do.
When finances are tight (and most of us feel like we just hardly have enough, am I right?), it’s easy to think we don’t have extra money to give beyond the obligatory 10%. I’m being challenged, though, to think less about how much I need and to focus more on how much I can give.
You know being good stewards of our money is a good thing, but we can also become so focused on saving money that we start to grip all the things we love, all the things we want, all the things we need so tightly it is hard to open our little fists to give. That was me.
I’m finding that is not the obvious lack of dollars in our bank account that stifles generosity in my heart, but a lack of trust in God’s provision.
As we lived in a place of need, of literally not having enough money to cover our cost of living, we learned such important lessons of trust. We watched God provide for our specific needs of groceries, size 5 clothing, or money for vehicle repairs. Even when I couldn’t see any way for our needs to be met, I started believing that God would provide–because He always did.
Over and over again, He would provide–sometimes in the most unexpected ways. The last year has been a little easier for us financially. It has been so much fun to be able to give more, too. But last week was again one of those times when there was not enough money to cover all the bills. It wasn’t the best news considering that we would be leaving for a week-long vacation in a few days.
However, after five years of watching God provide for our needs I didn’t have any feelings of anxiety, but simply told Him, “I know you will provide for us.”
Three days later there was a package on our doorstep with a note from friends and a check that was more than enough to cover the remaining bill! Knowing that they had no idea we were facing a financial pinch reminded me again that God sees our needs and takes care of them with such creative flourish. We can trust Him.
I also felt a tinge of guilt. A few days before we got the package, Steve had been given a gift of $100 and wanted to give it to someone else. But I was like, “Well, we kind of need that $100 right now.” It might have been true that we needed it, but I see in retrospect that if we had passed along the gift, we still would have been covered. Because we can’t out-give God.
Trusting that God will provide takes the scary out of giving. (Obviously something I’m still learning.) Pastor Bruce has inspired me in this way as have so many other people who model sacrificial giving. I want to keep growing in trusting His provision and, in the context of obedience, giving recklessly.
As I have learned to trust His provision, I’ve noticed my fingers, the same fingers that once held onto security, are loosening their grip on things and money. I’m beginning to see them less as things we have earned because they are gifts–all of them. When we walk in the freedom of trusting God’s provision, it is a joy to give to others. When we follow His voice in giving we can also rest in knowing He will take care of our needs.