Today. Today was one of those days I long to live in all the time. Today I stood in the middle of God’s incredible work and was in awe. Today was one of those 5% days we grind out 95% of our life for. Today was GOOD! This morning I stood on the stage of Community Christian Church and shared our story yet one more time, which doesn’t sound surprising I know because I have shared our story a lot of times with a lot of different people but today was different. I wasn’t there by coincidence and I was there for a purpose.
This morning I was supposed to be on NBC, with my students talking about our upcoming benefit show called The Brave Project, but due to some “rearranging” of the show we were cancelled. Instead of staying at my brother’s house in North Chicago like originally intended I came home so I could be at church. I had been looking forward to sleeping in thanks to the beautiful Ray family who watched our children while I was away and made it possible for Brian to worship lead this morning (which was so incredibly moving by the way). When I woke up this morning though I felt an incredible prompting to speak about tithing…I mean come on how often does this happen to people. How many people enjoy talking to people about giving their money to church? And let’s back up, ME talk about tithing. The girl who once had to sit through John Ciesniewski’s budget class twice in order to grasp the whole thing was now feeling an overwhelming nudge from God to lead people in tithing. I know…. crazy but it’s true.
I got up out of bed with a feeling of urgency to get ready. Sleeping in was the last thing on my mind because God was putting something incredibly important on my heart. “You have to get there, now.” I tried to push it down, and make every excuse as to why it didn’t matter if I didn’t go. “I didn’t want to bother Aaron, (our pastor), the cue sheet had already been set, they were probably already going through the flow of the service”…..etc. etc. etc. But with every possible excuse I could come up with God pushed, “Get there.” Very simple, very direct. So I picked up my phone and texted Aaron. “What time is cue to cue?” His response, “We just started.” Again my brain went to “oh just let Brian talk as planned, it will be fine. Go to Starbucks and do your devotional. The message will be received.” Again the message loud and clear was, “Get there.” I sent my last text; “If I get there in time can we change it up and have me to Giving Back To God….feeling prompted.” Without even receiving a response yet I finished getting ready as quickly as I could and got to the church. I immediately started jotting down some notes on what I was going to say during our Giving Back to God moment and headed on stage to quickly rehearse with the microphone. Was feeling good, I had listened to God, got to the church, had a good talk track and I was ready. Well I’m not sure I was ready for God’s big reveal as to WHY I was actually there.
Service began and I was completely submerged in my husbands beautiful voice as he led our congregation in worship. A few comical video clips played and Aaron began the message and with the beginning of the message he pulled out a ladder and set it on the stage. Everything became clear in an instant. I knew exactly why I was there. To share our story. I will recap it quick for you here. 3.5 years ago we were attending our church, Community Christian at its Shorewood location. We were in a series called “The Ladder” which spoke of growing in generosity. Brian and I had been praying for God to grow us in generosity and through this series He gave us an incredible vision and told us that we would make our greatest impact and give generously through a performing arts center in Yorkville. Well those of you reading this know that God fulfilled this provision and is doing amazing work in and through the Yorkville Performing Arts Center. Before the series we were on the very first rung of the ladder of giving and working our way to the second one by giving to church consistently and by the end we were intentionally giving. We were making changes in our budget so we could be more generous and make a bigger impact for our church community and help people find their way back to God. We have been climbing the ladder every since working our way to being legacy leaving givers.
We were asked why we give. The truth is we give because it isn’t ours in the first place. Everything we have been given is God’s and it’s an honor and a privilege to give back. We give because we serve a God who generously gives to us and we made a commitment to follow His example. You see, I feel we have a really big job. We have the job of leading a generation of intentional, sacrificial and legacy leaving givers and if we don’t lead by example how are they going to learn? It starts with us. It starts now and it starts by taking the next step. How can you live a life of legacy leaving generosity? I challenge you. Take the next step in your giving. It doesn’t have to be to a church, maybe its in an organization you believe in, maybe it’s a mission God has placed on your heart, maybe it is to the homeless woman you see each and everyday on your way to work. I don’t know what it is for you but I guarantee if you ask God, He will reveal it to you.
Today I know God traded the NBC stage for a bigger stage. His stage, and while I don’t know the ways in which my listening and obeying will impact our church, our community and the next generation I know that I surrender all of that to the One who continues to provide far beyond what He promises and certainly far beyond what I deserve and am praying you will do the same.