So much has been said and written about stewardship and generosity. Basically, it all boils down to this: The more you give, the better you’ll feel, and the more joyful you’ll be.
However, regardless of how inspirational the talk and elegant the writing, the practice seems all too often like a diet: We know we’re the better for it, but somehow our hearts aren’t in it and our practice is half-hearted and intermittent and the results don’t seem worth the struggle.
And, like failed diets, there is a fair amount of feeling not-so-good about our inconstancy.
Is there a catalyst that can transform that struggle into something other than a frequently unenjoyable and unsuccessful discipline? Can being generous, can practicing stewardship become something we long to do? Can it be full of strength, fulfillment, and joy? And if so, what is this catalyst?
It is falling in love.
When we fall in love, we fall in love with someone who loves us. When we fall in love, the urge to give to the beloved lover takes over. The struggle ceases. Never again will the act be desultory and dutiful. The giving becomes something we long to do. It becomes joyful, strengthening, and fulfilling. The anticipation of giving becomes exciting, the practice becomes strengthening, and generosity becomes a way of fulfilling our divine potential and leaves us feeling more whole than we ever believed possible.
How God invaded my life and overawed me with undeniable, mystically palpable love is irrelevant. Not because it’s not a good story – because it is a good story. (After all everything God does is good because God is good.)
It’s irrelevant because how God invades your life with undeniable love will be unique to God’s love for you because you are a unique creation. And, at that point my story would not be applicable and would only be a distraction.
Passion is an over-used word. But, in the best sense of the word, my Passion (and, I do mean capital “P”) for River Road and you is this: that you fall in love not as I have described above, but that you fall in love in a way that makes your experience so much greater than my words that my description is completely inadequate and wholly meaningless by comparison.
My two-fold persistent prayer both for our church and for each of us is this: First, that God will show each of us in a sweeping way, a way that sweeps us off our feet, how much God loves us. And, second, that you, too, will pray persistently that God will sweep you away and enfold you in God’s perfect love.
When that happens generosity will cease to be preached about. Rather, it will become talked about in words of awe and prayers of thanksgiving. It will be as God intended it to be: a willing and divine act of worship.
Paul really was right when he said God loves a cheerful giver because when the giving is cheerful, God knows that we have understood God’s love for us. When we “get it” I think it fills God’s heart with immense joy and satisfaction because we as children of the Most High are on a path to being made holy as God is holy.
Written by Currie Carter
Originally published in the 2017 Fall Quarterly Explorer