1 Chronicles 29:11b-12 Living Bible (TLB)- “Everything in the heavens and earth is yours, O Lord, and this is your kingdom. We adore you as being in control of everything. Riches and honor come from you alone, and you are the ruler of all mankind; your hand controls power and might, and it is at your discretion that men are made great and given strength.”
When did you first believe that everything you have belongs to God or do you believe this? Often, we think that we work hard for what we have and that everything we have is ours. However, whatever we have belongs to God, and he has designated us to be good stewards of what he has given us.
The first time I took the Crown Ministries study I realized everything I had belonged to God. Memorizing the above scripture pierced my heart. Everything that has been created was created by God, for God. It’s all from him. He loves us so much that he created the heavens and the earth for us.
Before the Crown Ministries course, I was a whole lot more materialistic. I was one of those Moms who felt the kids had to be dressed with the best; their rooms were filled with more toys than they could ever play with. The class changed the way we looked at money and helped me to realize that material things were not that important. What was important was that God gave us life, breath, and his precious Word. God will provide for all our needs. Look how he provided for Adam and Eve. He created a beautiful garden and gave them everything they needed. He does that for us too. He gives us what we need, not necessarily what we want.
My relationship with God and my first husband changed and we began working as a team when it came to money and giving. It was no longer just the job of my husband to take care of the finances. It was both our jobs to be good stewards of what we had been given.
Another way the course truly changed my life was by encouraging us to prepare a will and it was at that point we purchased life insurance. In your 30’s you never think you are going to need it but, when your husband dies at the age of 46 it is a blessing to know that the life insurance is there to help care for you and your children. It is also a blessing to have a church that envelopes you with their love and care in so many ways you can’t even count.
For the next 10 years and even today it was amazing to experience the way God has provided for me and my daughters both physically and spiritually. God gave me a new vocation, a new wonderfully supportive husband and lots of new members to our family. God is so good and faithful. Because of that course so many years ago, my attitude towards giving has been refocused. I am now a cheerful giver and no longer give reluctantly. Giving back to God is one way I can love God and help God’s kingdom come upon the earth.
My giving has come in phases. A lot of my attitude towards giving has progressed with different aspects of my life. Before children, it was all about me. Whatever I wanted, I got. I was only responsible for me and since I had plenty, I indulged. I worked hard for what I had and I felt as though I deserved it. When I began having children, the focus was no longer on my wants and desires, it was more important to me that the kids had the things they needed. As my finances grew tighter, sometimes that meant delaying things for myself like new clothes, new cars, and sometimes needed medical or dental care.
Life circumstances can change your attitude about things. Going through a divorce changed my attitude about possessions completely. Possessions no longer mattered to me. I was happy to have a few sets of clothes. Imagine how the thought of giving to your church changes when they are no longer giving you the support you need? (Don’t worry. I’m not talking about Custer Road UMC, it was a different church that let me down.)
I served on committees, volunteered, gave from my meager funds and I didn’t even get a phone call after my divorce was done. It made me want to do all those things even less. Good news though, God is faithful all the time. God is good all the time. Faithfulness is believing even when things aren’t going your way.
It’s amazing how things work out when you can look back at events that have taken place in your life. As it states in the Footprints poem, “When you see only one set of footprints, it was then that I carried you.” The final straw for me was having a major medical diagnosis. There is nothing like a major medical condition to help you set priorities. I guess you can take two paths. You can either turn completely away from God or you run towards Him. Believing in God afforded me the option of running towards Him. I received a prayer box three days before my scheduled brain surgery. Notes from coworkers, family, friends, and even teachers I had in elementary school showed me the scope of people praying for me. It showed me that God uses all kinds of people to help us through circumstances. Of course, Sharon helps me to see God in all things. She reminds me of who owns everything and who we belong to.
God is always faithful and as his children we are called to live a life that is faithful. At the end of our life wouldn’t it be great to hear the words, “Well done good and faithful servant” from our Lord? What would that look like? We can only imagine.
For us, giving is an act of worship, not a requirement because God has given to us first. It’s not just about money. It’s about giving of ourselves through our prayers, our presence, our gifts, our service, and our witness. It’s the way we love God and love others.
1 Corinthians 4: (NKJV)- “Moreover it is required in stewards that one be found faithful.”
Generous God, we give you thanks and praise that you created all things for us to enjoy on this earth. May we always remember your generosity and be your faithful stewards of what we have received from your loving hands. Amen.
Patrick and Sharon O’Connor
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