Based on the budget, we just didn’t have enough money. It wasn’t that Rip and I didn’t want to help, but we both agreed, “If we were rich, we’d buy that dear woman and her children’s meal, but…”.
It was on a Friday night in Huntsville, AL, when Rip and I sat in a crowded PF Changs and watched an obviously worn-down mother and her fussing children woof down a meal as though a timer had been set to 5 minutes. Sitting at the end of the table, grandmother bounced an infant on her leg in an exhausted effort to help her grand-daughter stop crying so she could enjoy her Gerber peas. However, the peas were plopping all over the floor, up the baby’s nose, and splattering on grandmother’s silky navy blue polkadot dress.
As we watched, it brought back memories of doing the exact same thing only a few short years ago. Being gripped by the whole scene of chaos, hunger, fatigue and desperation, we fought the urge of just going over there and offering to hold her children while she finished her food. While the children sat there with heads barely above the table, the flailing of forks in their tiny hands looked more like shovels forcing mounds of rice into their tiny little mouths and washing it down with Dora the Explorer Sippy cups full of apple juice.
We wanted to give to this woman so badly.
Giving can be tough sometimes, especially if we base our giving on what we see as our surplus.
Do we have enough money to give?
Do we have enough time to tithe in helping others?
Do we have enough forgiveness toward someone to actually show it?
Do we have enough kindness to demonstrate it randomly?
Do we have enough mercy to literally lend a listening ear?
Do we have enough grace to extend to the unkind, unappreciative, and the ungrateful?
Do we have enough love to show to our enemies?
The Message Bible writes 2 Corinthians 9:8-11 to say: God can pour on the blessings in astonishing ways so that you’re ready for anything and everything, more than just ready to do what needs to be done. As one psalmist puts it, He throws caution to the winds, giving to the needy in reckless abandon. His right-living, right-giving ways never run out, never wear out. This most GENEROUS God who gives seed to the farmer that becomes bread for your meals is more than EXTRAVAGANT with you. He GIVES YOU SOMETHING YOU CAN THEN GIVE AWAY which grows into full-formed lives, robust in God, wealthy in every way, so that YOU can be GENEROUS in every way, producing with us great praise to God.
Reading these verses inspired me to create an acrostic that seems to sum it all up.
G.I.V.E. – God Is Very Extravagant … in His blessings to us and through us.
That now well-fed, yet worn-out mother left to go to the ladies room at the same time their waitress was making her way from the kitchen to give them their receipt. Rip and I were sensing the same thing … so, I gently stopped her as she made her way right passed our table and asked to have their receipt secretly. To please not let her know who paid for their meal.
We stepped out in faith, not out of surplus, and paid the full ticket for the mother, her 3 children and grandmother. When she came back from the ladies room, we watched her gather up all the plates into a stack to help the waitress’s job be a little easier, only to look up from the pile of dirty dishes as she was told that their meal had been covered. The look on that dear mom’s face said it all. She searched around the room to find a pair of eyes that would meet with hers, but Rip and I kept our heads down staring at our Kung Pao Chicken! After she searched the room, she looked back at her own mother sitting at the end of the table, still bouncing a baby on her knee. But with a reassuring and gently smile, she seemed to be saying to her selfless daughter, “God is good, child. God is good.”
She took the hands of her two youngest children and they all made their way out the door. Well fed and happy.
Rip and I were not worried one bit about the money, instead we were thrilled for that family to have had one blessing from God that obviously touched their heart. We knew we had done what HE wanted done. That was all that mattered. That was all.
When our waitress came to our table with our receipt, we opened the little black book and on our ticket were these words:
“Paid in full ~ Britney”
Our waitress was Britney and she was also touched by His act of generosity, because “someone in the kitchen” had told her.
We shook our heads in awe of God because oddly enough, the receipts were the same price!
His Words are true – “GIVE, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” Luke 6:38