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The hardest part of giving is letting go.
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
I was walking around the neighborhood one night when it started to drizzle. I ducked under an oak tree and waited for the sprinkle to pass. I wished I had a raincoat.
A raincoat …
As the rain came down, I went back in my mind. My brother, nine years my elder, had the neatest raincoat. It was thick and yellow, and the lining was printed with cartoon characters. On the inside of the collar, my mom had written his name: GENE STALLINGS. He grew out of that raincoat, and one magical day in the fourth grade, I grew into it. It was mine at last.
By the next year, I had outgrown it, too. My mom insisted on giving it to the used clothes drive for needy children. I pitched a fit. It was mine. Mine! She couldn’t give it away without my permission.
She disagreed. I fumed and howled and probably shed a few histrionic tears, but the raincoat left me. I don’t know why I cared so much. I couldn’t even wear it anymore. Maybe it was just the principle. Or maybe we just don’t like to let go of certain things.
I forgot about the raincoat until I thought I saw it again in the sixth grade. It was on a girl I had known since kindergarten. We’ll call her Valerie. She was a quiet girl, but she was funny and quirky, and I liked playing with her whenever circumstances put us together.
Her wearing my old raincoat made no sense, but it sure looked the same. She took it off and draped it over her desk chair. When she got up to sharpen her pencil, I looked inside the raincoat. The lining was the same. I peeled back the collar. My brother’s name was covered over with black Sharpie. It was my rain jacket.
It took a minute before I was jolted by the truth: Valerie was a needy child.
It didn’t seem possible. Valerie lived in the same middle-class neighborhood I did. Needy children lived far away.
Or did they? I remembered snatches of overheard conversations — something about Valerie’s father being ill, about his being unable to work.
It was true. Valerie was in need. She was right there in front of me all this time, and I never knew. I was instantly grateful for everything my family had. And I knew I could never breathe a word to her about the raincoat. It would embarrass her.
Sometimes, unspoken things make the strongest impact on us. In that incident, I saw one of the reasons God gives us more than we need: He wants us to share it with those who don’t have enough. And those who don’t have enough don’t always live in a faraway land or an urban housing project; sometimes they live right down the street.
Two years earlier, I had, by force, let go of the raincoat. Two years later, I willingly relinquished my claim of ownership.
Then, years afterward, standing under a tree while rain poured from the nighttime sky, I suddenly realized whose yard I was standing in: Valerie’s. At least it had been hers back in school. God really wanted me to get the message: As Christians, we own nothing. It is all His. And as He cheerfully shares His things with us, He wants us to share them with each other — letting go of them just as cheerfully, without any thought of holding on.
It makes me wonder. The “things” God shares with us aren’t always tangible. It’s not just money, food, and raincoats. It might be time. It might be attention. It might even be the gospel itself. If you have the limitless love of God in your heart, you have more than you can possibly use in a lifetime, and the excess is literally spilling over. Who in your life lacks it? Who do you need to get closer to so the overspill can get them wet?
Who is in need of the very thing that you are uselessly hoarding?
“Sandwich” by John Frank
I know nothing about the children’s poet John Frank except that his poem “Sandwich” perfectly captures the essence of Luke 6:38 about the reward of being a cheerful giver: “Give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you.”
Sharing with others isn’t just about handing over things. It is also about sharing ourselves. That’s how community — and communion — is formed, enriching the giver just as much as the recipient. It’s like Bill Murray said at the end of the “Christmas Carol” spoof Scrooged: “You've just got to want that feeling. And if you like it and you want it, you'll get greedy for it. You'll want it every day of your life.” Paradoxically, you can only gain it by giving.
Hopefully, you saw my recent announcement about the publication of Shadow Point Skies. I am so excited to share it with you! It’s book one of a series of inspirational gothic romances (which is a fancy way of saying a Christian romance with a spooky edge to it).
Please, please, please give it a chance to inspire and entertain you! I really do think you’ll like it!
It’s available as an ebook, paperback, and collectible hardcover. Click the image below to learn more about the book, including how to order.
If the story doesn’t interest you, please think about someone you know who might enjoy an inspirational story about love and faith!
Thank you for reading!
October was a wonderful month with many answered prayers. Not the least of which is that my youth group is growing by leaps and bounds: almost 40 kids attended our Halloween party! God is good, loving, and wonderful. Thank you for allowing me to share Him with you!
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