Monday, 28 February 2011

When giving your whole doesn't leave a hole

I've been finding the last few months many concerns have pressed on my mind, things I've discussed with Andy, only to find a few weeks later it's the prime topic in the church sermon - other subjects have cropped up too and I'm starting to find that I'm rather insightful about what's coming up - and also a little scared that I'm seeing things and having insights into people's feelings before they happen, or before they speak to me - I  need to work with that and pray into it, I know, and I need to dwell deeper - which is also the theme church have been working on recently.  Friends have spoken to me about what's on their minds, which I've thought about days in advance and just today I e-mailed a friend to let her know I needed to give her more of my time, only for her to e-mail back and say she felt her friends were deserting her - I'm finding a gift I've known I've had a long time, but never really sat down to acknowledge - probably because I've been too wrapped up in me, myself and my own.

Giving has been on my heart for a long time now.  It's pressing on me more and more.  Financially I'm not in a position to give much, but I know that I have talents and just a little more time on my hands now the children are getting older and I have Fridays off work.  Up until a week or so ago I held on to the very fine thread I might actually get a promotion at work.  Promotion I know I deserve (my last three year reports have said so), promotion I know I'll be good at, in a field I enjoy, but this would mean giving up my Fridays.  It would also mean a shedload more money, but one thing I'm happy to declare is that of all of life's wonderful little treasures to increase our greed capacity, money chasing is not one either Andy or I pursue.   Originally I intended my Fridays off  for housework, but after spending nearly 12 years as a working mother, the routine of running a home at weekends and evenings works for me and Andy.  So... it seems I have time on my hands.

At Christmas my employers graciously granted me a week's leave to work voluntarily for a local charity.  It's an annual entitlement and one I intend to take advantage of annually.  I spent four days working in a church hall checking boxes for Operation Christmas Child.  I loved it.  I loved sitting in a hall chatting away to little old ladies, having cups of tea and biscuits and marvelling at some of the beautiful items people sent and tutting and grumbling over the really rather awful tat others sent.  It felt good.  It felt good to know that I was giving something of myself for nothing in return and knowing that somewhere in the world a little girl or boy was going to open a box full of goodies, that would for a few days or weeks bring a little happiness into their lives.

But, it doesn't feel enough.  Homeless people have played on my mind.  I mentioned to Andy I wanted to look into helping the homeless. Two days later at church, up popped Nigel on the screen, a homeless man in Reading.  A man I have now walked by and spoken to numerous times on my way to and from town.  A man I've found out not only likes tea and cheese sandwiches, but on a cold day is rather partial to a hot sausage roll.  I've had it on my heart to look into doing soup runs of an evening, but have never taken time to really look into it.

So, this week, the sermon was about dwelling deep into ourselves to give more.  Not just financially, but our time, our love, our prayers, our talents - and to do so willingly, not begrudgingly, not counting the cost, but to count the benefit to the person or people we strive to serve.  I look at what Christ gave for me and know that there will never be a time I can outgive Him, but I can have a good go at trying!  Another thing that touched me was that a couple of weeks ago I found a website that spoke of the Give A Day For Ten Days Pledge, and it was littered with all manner of ideas for giving, so I thought about it, thought it sounded great and planned to blog on it over the weekend - then the sermon came.

So, I know I've been spoken to very clearly.  After spending a lovely morning recently, having coffee with a new friend at church, we separately felt God was speaking to me very clearly about using my Fridays for my own financial gain and promotion at work, when the time could be spent better serving others.  I'm still praying into it so I know for sure it's really God speaking and not just my own mental deliberations for and against the motion.  I know my friends and others need more of my time than I currently give and I know I can make more effort in little things and not have to think the only way I can give is to hand out money.  I rarely ring people because I hate the telephone and I'm awful at interrupting people when they speak, so I don't bother doing it, I need to ring people more and give them time.  I need to put the kettle on more and invite friends over and I need to take an interest more in other people so I can pray into their lives and ask God just how I can help them.  It's been an eye opener, it's pressed on my heart and now it's time for me to act.

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