How would you answer the question, "What did giving look like when you were a kid?"
I can tell you, I got presents at Christmas time. I spent hours looking through the Sears catalog and writing down page numbers and items, complete with cut-out pictures, prices and anything else I thought someone might need to know so they could buy it for me.
But when I think about giving, that is not what I see.
I see my parents and our good friends going to the downtown rescue mission 30 miles away (seemed so far 30 years ago!) once a month. My brother and would tag along and we'd sing songs with our friends playing the piano & leading us in worship songs, my Dad singing out loud and clear before he'd bring the men a message of hope. Hope in the only One who could ease the inner pain they had and the only One who could fight their inner demons and WIN! I remember standing up in front of the men's smiling faces and singing,
"Love is like a copper penny, hold it tight, you won't have any!
Lend it, give it, you'll have so many, they'll roll all over the floor!"
I'd sing it through twice and the last time, I had a handful of penny's in my hand and I'd throw them out on the floor to the men. I was probably 5 year old (or younger) and I can still their faces smiling up at me.
I hear our phone ringing (during supper time, of course) and see my Dad get on his coat and leave to help someone who needed His help and that help came through my Daddy.
I see my Daddy getting down on one knee beside the elderly, holding their hand and praying with them.
Giving was and is my Moma fixing meal after meal for families who were sick, who had guests in for a funeral, who came home from the hospital from being sick, having surgery or having a baby.
It was helping each other out. Whatever the need was, it was met, somehow, by our hands being Jesus' hands.
It's what I see today. It's my church family pooling their funds together to make a house payment (or two) to help a family keep their home - all behind the scenes without one announcement from the pulpit, PowerPoint or bulletin.
Taking someone to doctor appointments because they can't drive.
Bringing food in to another.
Paying a power bill.
Sending a child to church camp.
Putting a floor in the house of another.
Giving was and is supporting a friend who is serving abroad through prayer, financial support and encouragement.
Before the Internet, we really only supported those we knew personally and we received their newsletters in the mail and hosted them during furlough. We celebrated with them with their children were born and mourned with them when family members died. It was personal! Yes, that support exists today. My dear cousin is serving abroad and I love having the personal connection. I have friends in Uganda who I knew before they had children and now they are grandparents! Personal connection is important and life-giving.
With the Internet, though, we are given the convenience of being able to give with a few clicks of our mouse! We can give in secret and the recipient not even know our name; just that their need was met. There is life in that kind of giving; as well! Thanks to technology, we can have funds automatically withdrawn from our bank accounts so we don't have to remember to write that check or click that mouse - it's just done for us! How easy!
There really aren't any valid excuses for not giving. Christ-centered agencies like Compassion International make it easy to give. Child sponsorship has definitely become a gift to us. Our children pray for our Compassion family at every meal and bedtime.
I'm not going to let the giving my parents lived stop with them. I'm going to continue their giving legacy and pass it on to my children. I haven't found a gift I've ever wanted more than seeing someone else light up because of Jesus.
Who is on your gift-giving list that is hard to buy for? Instead of the coffee mug filled with chocolates that they don't need (or want perhaps?), or the gift card for the store who wants nothing more for it to get lost or stay un-used, what about a gift that will NEVER expire?
As a follower of Christ, I want to give in ways that Jesus gave. I only have to look to the Bible to see what was important to Jesus and who mattered to Him.
True giving hasn't changed - it still exists... in you and in me.