Generous Hearts Stewardship Series #3
There’s an old story about a hiker who was hiking in the mountains along a trail that edged along a cliff face. As luck would have it, the edge crumbled and broke and the hiker started to fall. Luckily there was a small tree growing out of the side of the cliff and he was able to grab onto it, the only problem was he was about 50 feet from the path and 100 feet from the ground.
As any of us would do, he started hollering for help. “Help, is there anybody up there? Help” Time and again he hollered but to no avail.
All of a sudden a white cloud rolled in and out the cloud he heard a voice say, “This is God, you called and I’m here to help you. All you have to do is trust me and have faith.”
The man cried, “Oh, thank you Lord, thank you. I do have faith that you can save me.”
Then God said, “Good! Trust me and let go of the tree.”
The man thought for a minute and then hollered, “Is there anyone else up there?”
TRUST FALL VIDEO
Today when some people say they have faith in God what they’re really saying is, “I believe in God.” However, having faith in God is more about Trust than it is belief. It’s not enough to just believe in God we have to learn to Trust God in all areas of our life. And that means giving up control. And like the woman in the video, [guy in the story] we can’t or won’t give up that control, so we turn away and choose not to Trust Christ or Trust God. It may not be as dramatic as the video, but we move Jesus out of the driver’s seat. And take control rather than simply trusting God and Trusting God’s Generosity.
That’s our focus for today, Trusting God’s Generosity.
2 Corinthians 1:20-22 (NRSV)
 For in [Christ] every one of God’s promises is a “Yes.” For this reason it is through him that we say the “Amen,” to the glory of God.
 But it is God who establishes us with you in Christ and has anointed us,
 by putting his seal on us and giving us his Spirit in our hearts as a first installment.
I. THE PROBLEM:
I’ve told this story before but for me it’s sort of a defining story that bears repeating over and over again. It comes from a publication for which I was an associate editor. Rev. C. Richard Stone which appeared in a publication I received. The magazine is no longer around but the story has stuck with me. Rev. Stone told of an experience he had at the airport where he overheard a father and daughter in their last moments together. Her departing flight had been announced and standing near the security gate, they hugged and he said, “I love you. I wish you enough.”
She in turn said, “Daddy, our life together has been more than enough. Your love is all I ever needed. I wish you enough, too, Daddy.” They kissed and she left. The father walked over toward the window where Rev. Stone was seated. It was obvious that he wanted and needed to cry.
Rev. Stone was trying not to intrude but the father turned and asked, “Did you ever say good-bye to someone knowing it would be forever?”
Rev. Stone replied, “Forgive me for asking, but why is this a forever good-bye?”
The father went on, “I’m old and she lives so far away. The round trip airfare is an extravagance neither of us can afford. I have health challenges ahead, and the reality is, her next trip back will be for my funeral.”
Rev. Stone said, “I’m so sorry,” and then he asked, “When you were saying good-bye I heard you say, ‘I wish you enough.’ Do you mind if I ask what that means?”
The father smiled and said, “That’s a wish that has been handed down from other generations. My parents used to say it to everyone.” He paused for a moment and looking up as if trying to remember it in detail, he smiled even more. “When we said, ‘I wish you enough’ we were wanting the other person to have a life filled with just enough good things to sustain them.” And then he shared the following: “I wish you enough sun to keep your attitude bright. I wish you enough rain to appreciate the sun more. I wish you enough happiness to keep your spirit alive. I wish you enough pain so that the smallest joys in life appear much bigger. I wish you enough gain to satisfy your wanting. I wish you enough loss to appreciate all that you possess. I wish enough ‘Hellos’ to get you through the final ‘Good-byes.’”
With that, he began to sob and walked away. (1)
The reason I said this story was a defining story is because when I read, I realized that’s God’s desire for each of us. It’s God’s wish for us. I wish you enough.
If you go back to the very beginning, in Genesis we read how God created everything and in the process God created the Garden. In the Garden there was not only enough, there was more than enough, there was plenty. God placed Adam and Eve in the Garden and basically said to them and to us, “I wish you enough.”
It wasn’t a test. It wasn’t a trick. It was a blessing. God’s promise was that they would always have enough if they simply obeyed God, continued to have faith in God and Trust God’s Generosity.
Everything in the Garden was for their benefit. It was there so they could have enough. But there was one tree which God said was off limits.
Unfortunately, like so many of us today, Adam and Eve listened to the CEO of False Advertising and thought they had to have it all. All of a sudden Enough wasn’t enough. It wasn’t trendy enough. It wasn’t shiny enough. It just wasn’t good enough anymore. So, they reached out and bit the apple.
Whether you believe this is a literal story or just an allegory, spiritually, it explains how we got ourselves in the mess we’re in. God created everything. God’s original plan for us, God’s original blessing for us was “I wish you enough.” Not EVERYTHING but “enough.”
B. Unfortunately, our consumer oriented society keeps telling us we can have “everything.” That’s counter to what God says. It’s not Biblical at all. It’s the very spell of temptation under which Adam and Eve fell. From the very beginning God said all we needed was “enough.”
Paul even echoes that message in 2 Corinthians 9:8: “God is able to provide you with every blessing in abundance, so that by always having enough of everything, you may share abundantly in every good work.” (NRSV)
For me, the idea of having “Enough” has come to sum up, completely, my understanding of Stewardship and Trusting God’s Generosity. This blessing of “Enough” helps us know that when we Trust God’s Generosity, there will be “Plenty” and “More Than Enough” to share with others.
But it’s all a matter of Trust. It’s a matter of letting go and trusting God. It’s letting go of the need and desire for more than enough. It’s letting go of the impulse to ignore what God has provided and seek to have it all. Seeking, longing, and lusting after this unattainable desire to have it all isn’t living “the life that really is life” which Paul wrote to Timothy about.
II. THE PRESCRIPTION:
The prescription God offers for the Problem is simple, the Prescription is Trusting God’s Generosity.
Back before I answered the call to preach, Mary and I farmed with her grandparents. I thoroughly enjoyed those days on the farm. We worked hard but you could see the results. My oldest son, Paul, doesn’t remember much about it but he was always fascinated with the tractors and all the equipment we used and he loved to go for rides on the tractor.
I remember one incident that really speaks to the issue of Believing God rather than Believing in God, or as the title says, Trusting God’s Generosity.
One afternoon in early autumn, Grandpa and I were headed out on the tractor to pick up a flatbed wagon we’d lent to our neighbor, Herbert. Grandpa crawled into the driver’s seat. Paul came running out and wanted to go with us. Herbert had squirrels that would take pecans and peanuts right out of your hand and Paul loved to feed them.
I don’t know how many ways or times I told him there wasn’t any place for him to ride, but he kept saying “But Daddy . . . But Daddy . . .” With those crocodile tears just about to fall. I finally consented to hold him for the half-mile ride up our drive and across the county road.
The thing is, usually, when Grandpa drove the tractor for short trips like that, I stood behind him on a two inch wide drawbar holding onto the tractor seat for dear life. It wasn’t too bad. It wouldn’t have been too bad on a paved road but this was the bumpy old farm drive.
I know it was a hazardous way to travel but there’s probably not anybody who’s owned a tractor who hasn’t traveled like that. The problem was, on this particular trip I’d reduced my grip by half. Here I was holding Paul in one arm and hanging on with the other balancing on the draw bar. About half way there I realized how stupid that was and fear kind of grabbed a hold of me. What if I dropped Paul? What if I slipped off? What if he wiggled wrong and knocked us both off?
I started looking for where and how to jump so I could best protect Paul if something happened. In the midst of this minor panic attacked I looked at Paul. And it was amazing.
He was ecstatic. With the wind blowing through his hair, the sound of the old tractor roaring in his ears, he was oblivious to the danger. His face and eyes danced with delight. The bouncing only made him giggle, it was like a ride at Six Flags.
He had one arm around my neck and was waving at the cows with the other one. Not only was he totally oblivious to the danger at hand, he was thoroughly enjoying it. For him, there was no danger at all, only adventure. As far as he was concerned, everything was just fine. Nothing would happen. He was in his Daddy’s arms.
That was one of those defining moments in life and faith. Because I realized God wants us to have that same level of trust in Him. That’s how God wants us to feel. That’s how God wants us to Believe and Live the adventure of faith, safe in Daddy’s arms. God wants us to Trust completely in God’s Promises and Generosity.
No matter how complex the problem, how imminent the danger, or how disconcerting the situation, there is but one place for us: safe in our Heavenly Father’s arms; Trusting completely in God’s Generosity.
I only wish it was as easy as it seemed to be for my son Paul that day. It DOES get easier as we continue to grow in our faith. And it gets easier the more we Trust completely in God.
The truth is that’s what God wants for us. God wants us to do more than simply Believe IN God. God wants us to Believe God. To Believe God’s promises through Christ & to Trust In God’s Generosity of Grace, Mercy, Love & Forgiveness every day of our lives, not just on a part time basis. God doesn’t want our part time love and obedience.
Jesus didn’t die on the cross for part time love. He died so we could Trust God’s Generosity COMPLETELY.
III. THE PROMISES:
So, what are those promises? Well, Bible is loaded with them. There are promises on almost each and every page. And Paul tells us that “in Christ Jesus every one of God’s promises is a ‘Yes.’” Listen.
A. The world says: You’re nobody. God’s Promise says: You are created in God’s own image.
Genesis 1:27 “So God created humankind in his image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.”
B. The world says: Nobody really loves you. God’s Promise says: God loves you unconditionally.
John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.”
John 13:34 “I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another.”
C. The world says: you’re not smart enough. God’s Promise says: God gave you wisdom.
1 Corinthians 1:30 “He is the source of your life in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification and redemption.”
D. The world says: You’ll never be forgiven for the things you’ve done. God’s Promise says: God Forgives You.
1 John 1:9 “If we confess our sins, he who is faithful and just will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
E. The world says: You’ll never figure things out. God’s Promise says: God will lead you.
Proverbs 3:5-6 “Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not rely on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.”
F. The world says: You’ll never have enough faith. God’s Promise says: All you need is a little faith. Matthew 17:20 “If you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you.”
G. The world says: It’s impossible. God’s Promise says: In Christ, all things are possible.
Luke 18:27 “What is impossible for mortals is possible for God.”
H. The world says: You’re alone, no one cares. God’s Promise says: God is with you.
Deuteronomy 31:8 “The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.”
I. The world says: If you’re too tired, just give up. God’s promise, says: Jesus will give you rest.
Matthew 11:28-29 “Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.
J. The world says: You’ll never manage. God’s promise says: God will supply all your needs.
Philippians 4:19 “And my God will fully satisfy every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.”
K. The world says: Be afraid, be very afraid. God’s promise says: Don’t be afraid.
John 14:27 “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid.”
L. The world says: Worry about everything. God’s promise says: Give your problems to God.
1 Peter 5:7 “Cast all your anxiety on him, because he cares for you.”
M. The world says: You can’t do it. God’s promise says: You can do anything.
Philippians 4:13 “I can do all things through him who strengthens me.”
N. The world says: You’ll never have enough. God’s promise says: I wish you enough.
2 Corinthians 9:8 “And God is able to provide you with every blessing in abundance, so that by always having enough of everything, you may share abundantly in every good work.”
The point is this, God has so much for us it should be enough, it should be plenty, it should be more than enough. Whether it is or not depends, in part, on our level of trust.
My hope is that as you pray and think about Stewardship, your relationship with God and your place in the Church, that you will come to understand that “Enough” IS “Enough.” I hope that you’ll come to discover that you really don’t NEED it all to be happy. When we trust God and practice the Stewardship of our Prayers, Presence, Gifts, Service and Witness we WILL be blessed and given “Enough.” And in that blessing of “Enough” there will be Plenty and “More Than Enough” to share with others. Trust God’s Generosity.
Having said all that, I simply want to say this: “I wish each of you Enough.”
This is the Word of the Lord for this day.
1. (The Pastor’s Story File (Saratoga Press, P.O. Box 8, Platteville, CO, 80651,) 2001