Three years ago- in the springtime- there was a big explosion, followed by an epic fire on the RV we (Addison Road, my former band) were traveling in. We weren’t on the RV at the time- and for that, I am forever grateful. But all of our stuff was. And by stuff, think everything you use to make it through the day. Like clothes and laptops. Then think of everything you use that makes it possible for you to work and earn a paycheck. Ok- we lost all of that stuff. Not to mention the actual vehicle. It feels like a different life time- an eternity has been lived since that moment- an eternity learning about how good people are, how perfect God’s faithfulness is and what generosity really looks like.
I’ve learned a few universal characteristics about generous people these past three years.
This week, I want to share those with you.
Generous People Are ________.
Making it through the fire and maintaining our business required a short term loan. But banks don’t really give loans to semi-successful bands whose stuff burns up and gets stolen all the time. We are sort of a risk, you know? So we found someone to give us a loan. Mr. American Express. He gave us everything we needed and then some. After about three months of recovering we realized we had to break-up with Mr. American Express and really wished we had never met him. We were back to the original problem. We needed a loan- but seriously- financial institutions were avoiding us like a plague. So I emailed our families, pastors, a few friends and one new acquaintance that I couldn't make myself delete from the list.
That new acquaintance couldn't make himself shake the email. He told his wife- “Addison Road needs a loan and can’t find one. They need $30,000.” He knew they had $30,000 sitting in an account somewhere, but didn't dare mention it to his wife as a real option. Until she said, “Well- we have $30,000 in the kids college fund.”
And if reading that makes you feel uncomfortable- try being the girl on the other end of the phone.
I can’t take your kids college money- what if there is an emergency- and they need to get to college right away? As four-year-olds?!?
After some prayer together, some prayer with us, a contract that said we would honor the loan and a few phone calls back and forth, we found ourselves holding a personal check from a couple we had hardly known- for $30,000.
It should be noted- this isn't a family of millionaires; just normal, middle class Americans. This decision carried a weight for them. But free people, truly free people, are OK making weighty decisions and taking a few risks.
The opposite of freedom is bondage. And most bondage is derived from fear.
What if our child DOES get into college by age 7? What if there is a tragic accident and we need that money immediately? What if we need a new house? Or another car? Or aliens invade?
People who live in fear of the “what-ifs” have a hard time being truly free.
Being financially set for life is a good thing, but we should bear in mind, it is a first world luxury. Historically, most people have not had the luxury to store up a good nest egg for retirement. Secure retirement is a direct result of modern living. And oh how I love modern living! Except that sometimes it damns us to live a life of fear, what-if’s and short-sighted selfishness.
I remember talking to the wife in the early days of this process and she said something that forever changed me, “What if my kids don’t make it to college? I have no guarantees of that- just today. Just what we feel like God is leading us to do right now.”
I mean- she speaks as a woman who might lose a child to the bubonic plague! Imagine! The audacity to live with her hands slightly opened to the possibility that she may not possibly direct her own future!
She lives free. They live free.
From this couple I learned the defining hallmark of truly generous people.
Generous people are free.
They don’t live in fear.
(At least not all the time.)
So do not consume yourselves with questions: What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear? Outsiders make themselves frantic over such questions; they don’t realize that your heavenly Father knows exactly what you need. Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and then all these things will be given to you too. So do not worry about tomorrow. Let tomorrow worry about itself. Living faithfully is a large enough task for today. -Matthew 6: 31-34, The Voice Bible