From the other end of a large empty hall, Kristi ran up to me yelling something to the effect of
You were right! It worked! I got a car! It was undoubtedly one of the most fulfilling moments in my entire life. And it was the very moment that I truly understood why it is more blessed to give than to receive. The story had begun three days earlier. Kristi had approached me at church one Sunday morning and said,
Hey, I've heard that you get a lot of cars given to you; and I need a car, so if you ever have an extra one .... [hint, hint, hint]. It was true. My husband and I had experienced a string of events in which we had randomly been given cars—free of charge, no strings attached, simply as a blessing.
It all began when we had given away an old car which had faithfully served our family for many years, but had finally 'given up the ghost' one afternoon with a final odometer reading of over 310,000 miles. The organization Cars for Christ was happy to resuscitate the car by making some necessary repairs, and ultimately flipped it into the hands of another appreciative family. In turn, we were subsequently—and, at the time, quite surprisingly—given a car out of the blue by a family that barely knew us. After a short season however, we determined that the car was not our harvest, but rather more seed; so we gave away the second car—much to the confused chagrin of those around us. Almost immediately, we were given another car—again, by someone who barely knew us. This third car, however, was much more desperately needed by a dear friend of ours; so we gave away that car as well. Then within weeks, Scott and I were freely given a stunningly beautiful, showroom-quality, impeccably-cared-for vehicle that—completely unbeknownst to the giver—just so happened to be the exact car that we had previously wishfully placed a picture of on our refrigerator—down to the exact make, model, interior fabric, paint color, and even rim style.
So when word got around and Kristi showed interest in duplicating this process, I suggested she try giving away a little something. Some people call it 'creating positive energy' or 'putting it out to the universe,' but I simply know it as sowing and reaping as a cheerful giver (2 Corinthians 9:6-8). So, at my urging, Kristi wrote an offering check the next day, noting
good working car for Kristi on the memo line. Less than THREE HOURS LATER, someone walked up to her and GAVE HER A CHRYSLER CONVERTIBLE! When she told me the news, I was beyond ecstatic! Receiving good gifts is an absolutely fabulous serendipity of life (anyone who knows me well knows how much I love presents); however, I think it's almost inevitable that the more you willingly give, the less you tend to concern yourself with receiving. I've come to realize that getting a multiplied return on a charitable investment is an inescapable certainty, and I've found that the intangible rewards almost always outweigh the tangible ones. After all, which is greater: being abundantly blessed, or knowing that we are loved by a lavish God who chooses to bless us abundantly?
You know, God's exceedingly great goodness toward us does in fact sometimes make Him seem like an extravagantly exaggerated version of Santa Claus. And there is next to nothing in life that pleases me more than to be the little elf beside Him with a pencil behind my ear and a clipboard in my hand. I've become utterly addicted to the precious moments in life when I can somehow, in some way, be involved in the Lord's work of blessing others. That's when the opportunity to give becomes the ultimate gift. This past weekend, I spent my 47th birthday at the Dallas Travel & Adventure Show giving away a slew of really fantastic prizes that had been entrusted to me by various entertainment venues, sports teams, and local businesses. And hearing the excited voice of a man who's just won NASCAR tickets, watching a woman stifle tears while accepting a symphony season voucher, jumping with a girl whose name's just been drawn for Six Flags passes ... to me, these are some of life's greatest rewards.
Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again. Luke 6:38