By Linda Santavicca —
Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver (2 Corinthians 9:7).
Reason that Thanksgiving ranks as my favorite holiday, is not so much about ‘turkey to table’ or landing on the couch to watch a good movie, but that it is a designated day, sanctioned by Congress, in observance of gratitude. After reading Ann Voskamp’s, One Thousand Gifts, I started listing the many blessings I was thankful for as my pen ran dry. Secure in my faith, cinched in my marriage and blessed with good health pressed down beyond measure, I am steeped in peace. Gratitude yields generosity and thus, ‘tis better to give than to receive.’ The gift is in the giving. It took me years to wrap my head and heart around that dynamic until I learned that to give is to relinquish with grace. And, I learned it the hard way.
In 1997, I was jobless and buried under a mountain of debt; $35K. Vigilant to get the burdensome monkey off my back, I caved in, surrendered and pleaded to God for a miracle. The miracle came but not overnight. In great need of a stimulus plan, God became my financial advisor and thus we began the arduous two-year journey through my mission field of debt. In order to resolve my personal debt crisis, adjustments in my financial disciplines were implemented such as shredding up all the credit cards, buying only my absolute needs (not my wants) and acquiring a job with a steady income. With no professional skill sets, God miraculously secured me employment at a private wealth management firm where I learned how to manage money, save and invest, not just in stocks and bonds but in the Kingdom.
I also learned the principle of tithing. New to the bible, the concept of tithing fascinated me. Upon reading the book of Malachi, I decided to test God as He boldly commands, “Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse…and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it.” Yes, He pours it on. As I continued to trust, God continued to provide. God could have wiped out my debt in one day but He had a better plan. For two years he kept me on a short leash; not to hold me down but to keep me close to Him and to show me that to give is to relinquish with grace. He kept all is promises as He met all my needs according to His glorious riches. Through the entire restoration process, God never dropped me off. Not once did I ever go without. He purposed my debt to solidify my faith in Him and to show me that He does the impossible. Two years later, with no monkey on my back, I ran around Central Park at break-neck speed, debt-free.
How much would you give if you knew your returns would eclipse your investment? How much would you give of your resources if you knew there was an endless reservoir of so much more? In God’s economy, the harvest is plenty. We serve the god of abundance who is the ultimate cheerful giver. And, “When we give, we are ushered into the presence of His greatness” (Proverbs 18:16).