The name for this blog comes from the Hebrew word merchab. Merchab is a masculine noun that appears most often in the Psalms of the Hebrew Scriptures. It means a broad or roomy place, an expansive place, a wide place. Read more...

September 23, 2008

The Giving Circle

The entrance at the church is beginning to fill with rice, canned beans, powdered milk, drugs, and children's toys. We are collecting food, pharmaceuticals and pre-school children's toys. Next week they will be loaded into a forty-foot container bound for Haiti.

Generosity may not be the first quality that comes to mind when we think about Christians. But the growing pile of goods at the church today is only the latest sign of the extraordinary generosity I see so often in the people with whom I share worship on Sunday. I Timonthy 6:18 instructs those who are "rich" to "do good, to be rich in good works, generous, and ready to share." Compared to the majority of people living in Haiti, anyone privileged to call Canada home qualifies as "rich." It is our duty and our privilege to share.

What is it that makes it possible for some people to be generous, when generosity seems so difficult for others?

Generosity may not feel like a natural response to life. So often we feel there is not enough to go around. Experience seems to suggest that life is defined by frustrating limitations. When we feel that the resources of life are scarce, generosity is difficult. It is tempting to hold tightly to what little we feel we have.

Clinging is so easy. We have such a natural inclination to be pinched. We want to protect our resources. We want to make sure we have enough before we feel free to give anything away. But, there is never enough. A wealthy man was asked, "How much money is enough money?" He answered, "Just a little bit more."

As long as we think we can accumulate enough to satisfy our wants, needs and desires, we will never have enough. It is the nature of wants, needs and desires to grow just beyond each threshold we achieve. When we finally get two, we suddenly need three. Then three is no longer adequate; we have to have four. When we try to fill an inner void by acquiring stuff, there will never be enough stuff to satisfy the empty space.

Ironically, the more we cling to the things we have, the less we are able to experience the abundance of life that sets us free to share.

Jesus said, "give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap; for the measure you give will be the measure you get back." (Luke 6:38) There is a direct connection between our ability to experience the abundance that is our natural birthrite, and our willingness to share. And, it is only as we experience the fullness of life, that we are free to truly give. Generosity flows naturally from the experience of abundance. Giving enables us to experience that abundance from which generosity will flow.

How do we enter this giving circle?

At some point, we must experience grace. We must trust, even if only in the tiniest degree that our lives are a gift. Every breath we breathe is a gift; the beating of our heart is a gift; the blood that runs through our veins is a gift. It is all gift: every person who enters our life, every animal, every life form with which we share this planet. We did not create ourselves, did not bring ourselves into being. We do not keep ourselves alive. Every moment of life is pure gift.

We need to allow the awareness of the giftedness of life to enter our being. We need to open our hearts just the smallest crack to see how blessed we are. Jesus said if we "have faith the size of a mustard seed" ((Matthew 17:20), it would be enough. As we use it, it will grow.

As we open to the grace in our lives, we discover within ourselves the ability to give in response. The moment we choose to share, we experience a little more of the fullness that is our true nature. We discover that we are created in the image of God and that God is the absolute fullness of life and love that is the energy behind the universe. God is the everflowing abundance that brought all existence into being. And that abundance is our true nature, our true identity and our destiny as God's creatures.

There is enough to go around. There is enough to feed the people of Haiti and to give them the quality of life that should be enjoyed by all God's people. It is not a question of adequate resources. It is only a question of adequate willingness on the part of those of us who have so much. We are blessed. As we share our blessings, we will know the fullness of God's grace more deeply and richly in our hearts. This is the giving circle. It is the circle of love and it never stops; it never runs out. The giving circle never fails.

No comments: