By: Chris Sigfrids
Senior Online Marketing Manager
I recently read I Like Giving by Brad Formsma. It’s a book of stories from Brad and others about, well…giving. Most of the books you’d read on giving are about the theology of giving, tips on giving, or unpacking why we give. So when I started reading I Like Giving, I figured I wasn’t in for any earth-shattering discoveries.
Most “giving” books have a way of making you feel guilty. What I found is I Like Giving did the exact opposite. It was refreshing, encouraging, and freeing. It reflected much of where my heart has been, over the years, on giving and as I read others’ stories of small sacrifices and listening and obeying that still, small voice that is the Holy Spirit, I felt a weight lifting.
I started reading I Like Giving on a plane ride from Denver to New York. After arriving in New York City, I spent a couple days walking around, eating meals, and sitting in meetings. Over those couple of days I had successfully put on my stern-faced, get-there-quick, don’t-look-anyone-in-the-eyes, countenance that comes over me anytime I walk through NYC.Towards the end of the trip, I met up with my sister for lunch. As we waited in line at the Shake Shack, a burger joint on Columbus and 77th, I noticed an older, scrawny, homeless man digging through the trash for food. He was just a few feet away from me.
Even with my stone-cold persona flipped on, I notice things from time to time out of the corner of my eye. I glanced down at the homeless guy’s feet and there it was…he was missing his right shoe. A beat up shoe on his left foot, but no sock or shoe whatsoever on his right.
I don’t expect to save everyone. I know I can’t provide for everyone’s needs. I don’t pretend to be someone I’m not and I’m definitely no Oskar Schindler. That said, I believe God wants to work through me in very unique ways. As is talked about in the stories of I Like Giving, I’ve seen him also call me to specific tasks for a specific purpose on more than a few occasions.
I want to be used by God.
In order to be used by Him, I feel I need to keep my heart in a sensitive place where God can get through. But I’m easily sucked into things that don’t matter. Instead of reading, I watch television. Rather than engage my sons, I tinker. For me to hear from God I need the following: time reading the Bible, dedicated silence where I can reflect and meditate, songs of depth and praise that call me into worship and reminding me why I’m here, and wise people speaking into my life. When these things are happening, I see God working. When they’re lacking, I see God working less.
The homeless man had a simple need: shoes and socks. In Formsma’s book he shares stories where people recognized a need and met that need. A kid’s bike was stolen so a guy gave that kid a bike. That guy “likes bikes.” A woman finds out her neighbor doesn’t have enough money for a Thanksgiving meal, so she gives her a platter of turkey, stuffing, yams, and beans. That lady “likes Thanksgiving.”
This guy needed shoes and socks. I saw it plain as day and God’s voice was quietly directing me to him. I saw it, but my heart wasn’t in a place where it obeyed to act.
I missed it.
I was flying home to Colorado when a convicting wave of emotion crashed into me. It was a pure, clear thought: I should have given that guy my socks and shoes. It may have been weird, awkward, and it totally could have bombed. But I should have at least made the offer. I should have looked that guy in the eyes and said, “Here. Please take my socks and shoes.”
I should have done it. As quickly as that thought occurred to me, I was reminded of what Formsma said in I Like Giving:
“If an opportunity comes your way and you chicken out, don’t beat yourself up about it. When I first started giving this way, I found myself wondering how many people I’d walked past, how many opportunities I’d missed. The good news is that it’s never too late to give. If an opportunity comes your way and you don’t seize it, don’t get stuck in the downward spiral of regret. Smile, tell yourself all is well, and then ask for another one. If there are people around you, there will be more opportunities to give.”
I blew it. But it’s okay. There will be other opportunities.
As I reflected on the plane, I prayed and submitted my failure to God. I was reminded of what it says in Romans 12:1, “Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering.” (The Message).
I may not get it right all the time, but that’s what I’m shooting for. I’m aiming for a life that matters. A life surrendered to God on an all-the-time basis. Do you want that too? I think most Christians do. I’d encourage you to pick up and read I Like Giving. It may start to knead some areas of your heart that God wants to use as you look to bless others and live a life that matters.