Our church calls it stewardship, but the word is becoming overused and misunderstood. People are starting to forget what it means or how we are supposed to live it. It has been linked to tithing to church and nothing else, when that is exactly what stewardship is not. I've been thinking on it a lot the last few days, about what I see it to be, and how I am supposed to live my life the way God wants me to.
Everything we have has been given to us by God to use and share the best way we can. Nothing we have is actually ours to keep. If it were, we wouldn't leave this earthly world the same way we came in. We would get to take our wealth, our health, our talents, and our loved ones with us. We don't. I can only conclude that He wants me to use and take care of all that I have to glorify Him and be Him for others.
I see people being generous all of the time. When someone suddenly becomes ill, people line up to help. When tragedy strikes, people freely donate money to those in need. A woman has a baby, women organize meals for her family. It is a wonderful way to use God's gifts, but I don't see that as stewardship. God challenges us to use that same desire to help others every day of our lives. We need to listen, observe, and act in many more creative ways.
Today I was at the grocery store. Halfway through my trip, a woman pushing two carts came from the other direction. A baby was in his car seat in one cart, and her toddler and preschooler were following behind her. The two little girls were whining, and it was obvious that the woman was not having the best day. She was being patient with the girls, but she was worn out. How many times have I been in those shoes?
I didn't see her again until check-out. I finished paying and headed her direction. I saw her pulling wadded up cash out of her pockets to pay. Here was an opportunity to do what God wants. I walked over to her (actually, I accidentally startled her) and handed her a gift card to help pay for the groceries. (Our school has a fundraiser where we buy gift cards and the school keeps a percentage. I always have some for this particular store.) She looked at the card, then looked at me and said, "Are you serious?" I nodded and walked away. She was in a bit of shock, and all I heard her say was, "I'm going to cry." I almost did, too.
A mother at my children's school was having a rough few weeks. She has four children, she had gone back to working half time, was working on getting her masters, and her husband had been traveling quite a bit for work. She didn't complain, she wasn't cranky, but she was seriously tired. My kids were bugging me to make their favorite meal of stuffed shells for a while, so I chose a day to make them. (Have you ever made them? Not hard, but time consuming) I made an extra large batch, called this mother, and told her that I had dinner for her that night. When I dropped them off to her that afternoon, she asked me, "How did you know that today was a day that I really needed this?" I didn't, but God did.
I was driving a couple of my kids to soccer practice, when I saw a sign saying that a dog was lost. It happens quite frequently around here, so I didn't pay much attention to it. Two hours later, I was headed back to pick those soccer kids up when I saw a black lab run by. I had never seen this dog in this area before, so drove the little distance to the sign I had glanced at earlier. Lo and behold, it was a black lab that was lost. I called the number and let the man know. He was new to the area, and didn't know the streets very well. I pulled over, stayed on the phone with him to direct him to our location, all while keeping and eye on where the dog was walking. When the man got to the point where he could see the dog, we hung up. I continued on my way, and was only a little bit late to pick-up. The man called me back, crying, thanking me for helping with the dog. He had only been in town a few months, but in that time he lost his job and his girlfriend died in a terrible car accident. He had been searching for hours and hours for that dog, and just wanted me to know that he was grateful.
I don't always look for the ways that I can help. I don't always help when I know that I can. But every morning I pray for God to help me see the ways that I can use what I've been given to be a blessing to others. And then I pray for the desire and courage to follow through with it.
I am not the only one who does this. What do you do with the gifts you have been given?
Have a lovely, blessings-filled day!