Here’s the thing about giving

This post is dedicated to my friend, M. M is generous, fearless, intent on her own and others’ growth, and a darn good time. Thanks for being my friend, M.

Before the fall of 2012, I probably would’ve been able to directly apply exactly 0% of the story of Abraham to the story of Suzanne. I mean, I don’t exactly have a lot in common with the old guy. But last year, I started studying the command “do not fear” in the Bible and I started in the best place – the beginning. (The first time God uses the command, “Do not fear,” in the Bible He is talking to Abram. You can read about it in Genesis 15.) And then I kind of studied Abram/Abraham for a year. And of all of the Abram/Abraham stories, the one I have historically least identified with was the whole sacrificing-of-the-son one. I identify with that one even less than the sleeping-with-my-wife’s-handmaid-and-getting-everyone-mad story. Weird but true.

Then I started reading Genesis 1-23 over and over again for a year and after identifying with nearly every other Abe story, I finally got it. I finally saw myself, with my knife raised over the thing I love the most, ready to sacrifice the very thing I had waited so long for. And, praise God, I saw the angel grabbing my hand and saying, “Stop! God will provide.” And then I watched God provide. Again and again.

***

Here’s what happened to Abraham:

After these things God tested Abraham and said to him, “Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.” He said, “Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you.” So Abraham rose early in the morning, saddled his donkey, and took two of his young men with him, and his son Isaac. And he cut the wood for the burnt offering and arose and went to the place of which God had told him… When they came to the place of which God had told him, Abraham built the altar there and laid the wood in order and bound Isaac his son and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood. Then Abraham reached out his hand and took the knife to slaughter his son. But the angel of the Lord called to him from heaven and said, “Abraham, Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.” He said, “Do not lay your hand on the boy or do anything to him, for now I know that you fear God, seeing you have not withheld your son, your only son, from me.” And Abraham lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, behind him was a ram, caught in a thicket by his horns. And Abraham went and took the ram and offered it up as a burnt offering instead of his son. So Abraham called the name of that place, “The Lord will provide.” – Genesis 22:1-3, 9-14

And here’s what happened to me:

At the end of a long day God tested Suzanne and said to her, “Suzanne!” And she said, “Here I am.” He said, “Take your money, your $100, that you kinda need, and go to your friend who needs money to buy a plane ticket to see her sister before she leaves for army in Germany, and offer her your money. Tomorrow.” So Suzanne rose early in the morning, prayed to God, and made a decision to offer her friend $100 and to encourage their other friends to do the same… When she came to the place of her laptop, Suzanne sent the friend needing money a Facebook message, asking how much she still needed for plane ticket. Then Suzanne reached out her finger and pushed send. But the angel of the Lord called to her from Facebook via that friend’s response and said, “Suzanne, Suzanne!” And she said, “Here I am.” He (through the friend’s Facebook message) said, “Do not worry about the money! For now I have all the money I need! Someone anonymously donated the money for my plane ticket!” And Suzanne lifted up her eyes and looked at her e-mail inbox and behold, a message from YouthWorks, offering $500. And Suzanne went and took the $500 and used it to buy food and pay rent and stuff. And Suzanne posted a Facebook status saying, “The Lord will provide!” – Spring of 2012

And here’s what I hope will happen to you, M. That as you reach out your hand to give and give some more, the angel of the Lord will shout, “Stop! Now I know that you fear God. Here’s $500.” But even if that doesn’t happen, jewels on your crown, baby.

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When your hands are open to give, they are also open to receive. Corny but true.

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