My morning Spurgeon reading dealt with the issue of giving. This has always been a sore point for me. Not because I dislike my church asking for my monetary assistance, but because I cannot give the way I'd like to. When I fantasize about having all the money I could want, my fantasies tend to revolve around how much of that money I could give away. Wouldn't it be wonderful to pay off a relative's debt or mortgage? Or drop hundred dollar bills into the Salvation Army Kettle? Sponsor a dozen Compassion International children?
That's what giving is supposed to be. A Christian should never feel guilted into giving. We give because it brings us absolute joy. The same way it gives our Heavenly Father absolute joy to give to us, especially when He gives us the salvation we have not deserved and have no way of earning. To me, that's what it means to love as Jesus loved. To give abundantly. Of both our money and our time.
So why does it bother me to think or read about giving? Because I'm the typical American. I was brought up in the "stupid tax" generation. Stupid tax, for those of you who don't listen to Dave Ramsey, is the interest we pay on our cars, to Visa, Discover, AMEX, etc. We are the generation that is the polar opposite of the Greatest Generation. We don't save. We spend ourselves two paychecks in advance and send 18% of our income to Chase Bank's prfofit margin.
It took me 40 years to figure out that the way I was living, which is the "acceptable" way of living for most of America, was so fundamentally wrong that it could even be labeled sinful. Who am I to expect something I haven't yet earned? It has caused me such great stress that I cannot stand the sight of my new car, my TV, or any of other toys I've financed over my lifetime.
Now, I've started to reverse the process, and will soon be out from under the bondage of Visa, but the thought of the years I've wasted, unable to give as I'd like, sends me to my knees to pray for forgiveness. It has effected me so that I started another blog called Stuff I Wish I Knew When I Was 20. It's a bit of a tongue-in-cheek look at all the mistakes I've made and written for my kids, who are now entering young adulthood. Of course, anyone can find a bit of un-wisdom there. The beauty of making mistakes is that you can warn those behind you. They rarely listen, but I can try.
It serves no purpose to say "If I could do it all over again." These are some of the most wasted words in our language. A better phrase is "It starts now." Forty-six is not old. Neither is sixty. No matter what we've done with our lives up to this moment, we can change direction. Oh, how I'd love to grab those who are in despair, their lives wrecked by drug and alcohol abuse, bad choices, and monstrous debt. No matter how deep your pit, God will show you the way out. But you (and I) have to accept the fact that we are responsible for the choices we've made. No one else. And we must make the first step toward the light.
Follow me folks. No, wait, follow Him. I'll walk alongside you.