Over the Christmas Season I tried to practice what I called “intentional generosity.” It was about going through my daily life ready to give to whatever God prompted me. First it was putting whatever was in my pocket in the Salvation Army bucket every time I went in Walmart. At one time it was $50. Then it was about giving to St. Judes or whatever other charity I ran into over the Christmas season. Then it was about giving at the church to some things we had going. However, I believe the whole practice was a failure. Not so much in the generosity, but in the intentional.
I visited my normal Christmas stomping grounds; Walmart, Bestbuy, REI, And Dicks Sporting Goods. I kept my normal Christmas habits that drove me to busyness. I spent a great deal of time on Christmas sermon and worship prep. In the midst of all that I lost the “intentional” part of “intentional generosity.” I went around like ministry was just supposed to appear in my path – POOF!
Intentional is about an investment of time and energy to stray off the path to purposefully seek. Let’s face it other than a few “homeless” people with their “NEED HELP” signs I don’t run into on a daily basis – ministry. I have to invest time and energy to find it. Even if I keep my eyes open looking for ministry, I’m not likely to find in my normal daily routine. Why? – It’s MY normal daily routine, designed by my agenda. The “Intentional” part is about getting off my agenda and getting on God’s. So what does this “intentional generosity” look like? Take a look at the story from my friend Denise’s Christmas Eve.
“My Best Christmas Yet”
On Christmas Eve, unlike many people, I have nothing to do until late afternoon, so I decided that I and my girls would find someone to bless. We made a list of shut-ins to visit and headed out on our journey. On the way I stopped by McDonalds and bought 4 gift cards. The girls asked what we would do with them, but I made them wait for my response. We then headed to the dollar store and bought some kleenex, candies and breath mints. I had them make some goodie bags with the gift cards and several items that we had purchased. We tied them up just like gifts. I rode toward Englewood where I had seen a man walking several times the week before. The man was an older looking black gentleman, wearing a heavy coat and carrying yard rakes. I assumed that he was looking for work to earn money. I began to tell the girls about this man and as I drove slowly through the streets of Englewood they looked down each street to see if we could find him. We rode, and we rode, but did not see him anywhere. In my heart I was praying, “God, please let me find this man, this would really make my Christmas.” After we had been riding around for a while, I finally told the girls, “Well, I’ll just keep these bags in the car and the next time I see him I’ll give him one. It doesn’t really have to be today I don’t guess.” As I had given up, I turned left to head back toward Sunset Avenue and lo and behold – THERE HE WAS!, walking down the left hand side of the road. I was so excited!!! I pulled over and rolled my window down. Before I even reached for one of the gift bags, I smiled at him and said, “Merry Christmas”. His face lit up as he responded, “God bless you.” When I reached my hand out of the car window with the gift bag he just smiled from ear to ear and kept repeating, “God bless you. God bless you…..” As I drove away I looked in my rear view mirror and the man was waving like crazy and smiling at us as we drove away. All three of us waved back at him. This was probably the best Christmas Eve I have ever experienced! My Christmas was now complete.