“I do not believe one can settle how much we ought to give. I am afraid the only safe rule is to give more than we can spare. In other words, if our expenditure on comforts, luxuries, amusements, etc., is up to the standard common among those with the same income as our own, we are probably giving away too little. If our charities do not at all pinch or hamper us, I should say they are too small. There ought to be things we should like to do and cannot do because our charities expenditure excludes them. I am speaking now of ‘charities’ in the common way. Particular cases of distress among your own relatives, friends, neighbours or employees, which God, as it were, forces upon your notice, may demand much more: even to the crippling and endangering of your own position. For many of us the great obstacle to charity lies not in our luxurious living or desire for more money, but in our fear — fear of insecurity. This must also be recognized as temptation.”
C.S. Lewis, “Mere Christianity”
When I was a child, my grandma bought a Slip’n Slide — that yellow sheet of plastic with a hose on one end? She placed it right on a steep hill under an oak tree (bad choice), and my cousins and brothers squealed with delight and ran toward it, splashed down, and ran back up for more, covered in mud and grass clippings.
I, on the other hand, hid behind a tree. I was 7, maybe even 8. This is the child God made me.
That this same girl later grew into a woman who’d jump into more intimidating situations amazes me (and my cousins, who probably voted me “Biggest Weenie of 1991”).
But despite the moves, the jobs, the projects, the babies, the hard seasons — despite all those lily pads that held me, I’m still afraid of a couple things. Snakes, for one. And then being stingy, playing it too safe; mediocrity, finding false security, not jumping to the next lily pad when I feel the push. Coming short of a few dreams before I’m able to see the story from God’s view. That might be the worst.
After snakes. Snakes are the first worst.
I shouldn’t be afraid of living generously or leaning into the now or the new, though, and I want to live as if I weren’t. God’s track record’s impeccable.
And, like Grandma proved when she came over with the inner tube and let me sit on her lap the first few times down the Slip’n Slide, I’m not going to be left at the bottom alone, cold and wet and covered in grass clippings.
But as I think about money and my time, and I’m reminded of my own fear and limits, is all, and often where I put the limit is miles from where God would have me plant a fence post. I tend to be a little hesitant, and reading one Bob Goff book hasn’t changed me yet.
(C.S. Lewis, I’m glad to have met you as an adult, because the girl behind the tree might not have been strong enough to take this one.)