When I was little, we had a routine – work hard in school, practice and play hard on the basketball court, spend plenty of time with friends and family…but come Sunday morning, it was off to church.
I remember on the ride to church, my Dad would always grab his checkbook and write out a check, to put in the offering plate. Sometimes, he’d have me fill it in, and then he would sign it. Every Sunday, he repeated the same exercise – write out the check, put it in the envelope, and drop it in the offering plate.
I feel very blessed to have grown up with two sets of loving grandparents. I have very fond memories of both grandfathers, in church. Sometimes I’d sit in the balcony, with my Dad’s Dad…and come offering time, he’d always throw his money in, and then he would be pass the offering plate to everyone in the pews in the balcony. Some Sundays, I’d sit with my Mom’s Dad, and come offering time, he’d always slip me a five or ten dollar bill with a wink…just so I’d have something to put into the offering plate as it came our way.
As a child, I didn’t really know why we gave, I just trusted that it was the thing to do, and everything would work out just fine…
Fast forward to earlier this year – April, 2013 – at Central Christian Church, in Henderson, NV. Senior Pastor, Jud Wilhite did a series on living The Blessed Life. As with most of Jud’s messages, he takes scripture and unpacks the principles, illustrations, and applications for us. We’re usually left inspired, moved, or simply refreshed about life. This series was no different. Jud taught from several scriptures and books of the Bible, which illustrate not only what it means to be blessed, but also just how we can strive to live and experience The Blessed Life.
Of course one of the underlying principles in the series was that it’s more blessed to give than to receive. Jud reinforced how when we graciously and faithfully give of ourselves – our time, talent, & stuff – we begin to experience the many blessings in store for us. On the contrary, when we hold on to our ‘stuff’ – our money, our time, and our treasures – we quickly find ourselves alone, seemingly on an island of discontent and frustration.
During this mini-season, I was worried and stressed about various things…nothing out of the ordinary…the usual – finances, career, long distance relationship (and no clue really how or what to do to navigate next steps…).
Jud challenged us to take a 90-day challenge, and commit to giving an amount we felt appropriate, to God, on a regular basis…not because the church needed or wanted our money, but instead as an act of faith.
I had always thrown money into the offering plate, but never with a commitment quite like the one I was about to make. That week in April, I enrolled in Central’s online giving portal, and set up an automatic payment of 10% of my paycheck to go straight from my bank account to Central Christian Church.
Though I didn’t really understand exactly how the dollars and cents would work out in the end, I felt moved to take that step, in faith…and trust that everything would work out just fine.
...sure I still think about money, my career, and finances, but I don't worry about it all like I used to...
(And as a side note -- those 'next steps' with the long distance relationship...not only did Jenna move to Vegas, but she also found a job within 9 days of becoming a Nevada resident. All that worrying, and all we had to do was look up, step out, and trust...everything is working out just fine...)
That 90-Day Challenge turned into a new routine. Every other Friday, since that weekend in April, I receive the MyGiving confirmation email from Central Christian Church, that my contribution has been received. I always smile on those Friday mornings, because the irony is that I should be sending a confirmation email to the Man upstairs, thanking Him and letting Him know how much I appreciate ALL of the many blessings in my life…
On this Thanksgiving Day, I’m thankful for so many things and so many people. But I guess I’m most thankful for my parents, grandparents, Aunts, and Uncles whose gifts (lots of toys…) over the years were certainly blessings...but the best gift has been teaching me how to live a blessed life.
So here’s a confirmation email, to my parents and family members, letting you know that I love you and appreciate you, and every blessing in my life today, can be traced back to lessons learned growing up in Grayson, KY – working hard in school, practicing and playing hard on the basketball court, spending time with family, and especially…going to First Church of Christ on Sunday mornings…