Mortal Time & Eternal Generosity

Isn't it amazing how fast time goes?

Even though it's clichéd, I think the cliché has been worn thin by the fact it is true: time truly does fly. It's hard to believe that for the past three months, my family and I have been preparing extensively for a huge engagement party for my brother and his fiancée, and now I look back on the big day - from several weeks ago. How did that happen? Where did all those seconds on the clock flit off to? 

It was whilst I was pondering the fleetness of time's feet that it struck me how eternal God is. Looking at how fast time is going now, it is mind-boggling to think that God is at the beginning and the end of it all - seeing it all at once. That time itself is not fast for God because He is outside looking in, and yet He is ever present in every second. Both ever present and everlasting. This led me to ponder God's attributes, and when I arrived at generosity, it struck me - God is eternally generous.

What an incredible concept. Even in our finiteness, God is infinitely generous. Every single day He continues to give what He has always given. There is no end to the generosity of God, and time itself does not restrain Him. He is relentlessly generous. Every new sunrise is from Him. Every new breath. Every meal, every footstep, every word spoken. I love the way N.D. Wilson puts it in his Death by Living -
My wife and I tend to overgift to our kids at Christmas. We laugh and feel foolish when a kid is so distracted with one toy that we must force them into opening the next, or when something grand goes completely unnoticed in a corner. How consumerist, right? How crassly American.
How like God.
We are like that overwhelmed kid, not even noticing our heartbeats, not evening noticing our breathing, not even noticing that our fingertips can feel and pick things up, that pie smells like pie and that our hangnails heal and that honey-crisp apples are real and that dogs wag their tails and that awe perpetually awaits us in the sky.
 Our futile struggle in time is courtesy of God's excessive giving. Sunset after sunset make it hard to remember and hold just one. Smell after smell. Laugh after laugh. A mind still thinking, a heart still beating. Imagine sticking your fingers on your pulse and thanking God every time he gave you another blood-driving, brain-powering thump. We should. And we shouldn't, because if we did, we would never do anything else with our living; we wouldn't have the time to look at or savour any of the other of our impossibillions of gifts.
 In light of such generosity, you'd think we would be continually inspired and blessed by the goodness of our God, wouldn't you? Alas, more often than not, our self-centered flesh wins out.

We complain - loudly - whenever we haven't had enough sleep, yet fail to recognize we actually opened our eyes that morning.

When our bodies ache, we gripe and moan, completely oblivious to the fact we actually have bodies to bruise and strain.

The gift of words to speak - and breath to say them with - we abuse atrociously, in the way we use them to tear down, ridicule, and hurt others instead of uplifting and encouraging them.

We are often so self-absorbed that we fail to recognize God in the gifts He gives us in the beauty of every day: skies, trees, flowers, sunsets, birds, and a host of other things we take for granted.

Where God is always excessively generous, we tend to be excessively ungrateful. We treat the miracleness of all of His gifts with contempt; squandering so much of what He gives, and if we aren't doing that, we're complaining about it! And yet... in spite of our blatant wastefulness and depreciation...

He keeps giving. Eternally. 

What if He stopped giving because we weren't grateful? We'd up and die on the spot. But He doesn't. The mercy and grace God has for us is so encompassing that He continues to give the millions of essential little things we could never do without despite us never being remotely grateful enough.

Right on the heels of this revelation, my eyes were opened to a frightening concept, which phrased itself as a question: how then ought we give? If this is how God gives to us, isn't this same radical, reckless way of giving be ours also?

What if we always spoke words of kindness to everyone, regardless of how well people received them, or despite whether they even deserved them?

What if we were generous with our time; to listen to people who always interrupt us, to go the extra mile on a task when it is never returned, without expecting compensation?

What if we gave money to every worthy cause that came along? What if we never feared an empty bank account, and never withheld from an asking hand?

What if we gave of our gifts and talents in order to bless those who never appreciate them? What if we were generous with our hearts when it came to relationships, to love them in spite of what they could do to us in return?

We all know the right answers to these questions, and they are so easy to say, aren't they? It's always so easy to talk about generosity, the shortness of time, and the recklessly generous lives we should be living. It's easy to talk about having a faith in God that is without borders. Shoot, just about anyone could talk up a pretty good storm about good Christian living and giving. But when the money flow gets tight, the hearts get broken, and the body takes to hurting, it's always a different story. It becomes so much harder to be reckless when you're limping; to be fearless when you've been burnt.

However does this change the truth? What would Jesus Himself say to us as we are standing there with bleeding feet, empty pockets and a hollow heart?
Remember this: he who sows sparingly and grudgingly will also reap sparingly and grudgingly, and he who sows generously that blessings may come to someone will also reap generously, and with blessings.
Let each one give as he has made up his own mind and purposed in his heart, not reluctantly or sorrowfully or under compulsion, for God loves, takes pleasure in and prizes above other things a cheerful, joyous giver whose heart is in his giving.
And God is able to make all grace: every favor and earthly blessing come to you in abundance, so that you may always and under all circumstances and whatever the need, be self-sufficient and possessing enough to require no aid or support and furnished in abundance for every good work and charitable donation.
As it is written, He scatters abroad; He gives to the poor; His deeds of justice and goodness and kindness and benevolence will go on and endure forever!
And God Who provides seed for the sower and bread for eating will also provide and multiply your resources for sowing and increase the fruits of your righteousness, which manifests itself in active goodness, kindness, and charity.
Thus you will be enriched in all things and in every way, so that you can be generous, and your generosity will bring forth thanksgiving to God. - 2 Corinthians 9:6-11 AMP
 What a powerful piece of Scripture. When we come to the feet of Jesus, complaining and crying about how hard things are and how difficult it is to give, His truth remains - He is enough, and will always be enough. He has promised us that no matter how hard pressed we are, we will always be able to give, because He is enough for us. Not only that, but if we give generously from a good heart, He will give abundantly back to us.

If we truly believed we would always have enough in Christ, how would that effect our lives? Just read that passage of Scripture again. What if you and I believed that enough to live like it? To believe that wherever there was an opportunity to sow, there would be seed. That God is truly able and willing to make every favour and earthly blessing come upon us as we give without reservation. What a radical life that would be! How the devil would quake in fear; to see his scare tactics failing because we were that certain of God's faithfulness to bless us as we were obedient to Him. What a tremendous blessing we would become to the world, and a beacon of His love and mercy.

God - our awesome, eternally generous God - is more than enough for us. God goes so far beyond our need that we simply cannot comprehend it. In the ground, after we are dead and gone, we will have empty hands. But whilstever we have breath in our lungs, and a God so giving to supply every single one, we will always have something we can give. In Christ, our hands can never be anything less than full to overflowing.

So give. And it will be given unto you.

(This was a paraphrase of an offering message I gave at church a week ago from the jumble of notes I wrote down beforehand. It had inspiration from this song and Chris Tomlin's book, and from the awesomeness of N.D. Wilson, Death by Living [One & two reviews])

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  1. This post is such a good reminder of all we have been given and that we should enjoy it. Time does seem to go so fast.

    1. It does go fast. I'm glad you found this post a good reminder, Clare. :)

  2. Thanks for this post. It is all so true, but can sometimes be so easy to forget. :)

    1. You're welcome, lovely. It is indeed so easy to forget! I need reminding often.

  3. As soon as I saw the blog post title, I grinned because I had just been reading that chapter of Death by Living again. And then you quoted it! Your thoughts around it were a timely reminder for me, too. I've been feeling a bit worn-out lately, and this reminded me where my strength to run, death by living, comes from. And I just relearned it a month ago, hehe. :)

  4. *grinning* I wondered if you would pick up on the title, and I guessed correctly. ;) And yes, same with me too. It's a lesson I feel I am constantly learning and needing to be reminded of lately. Just picking up Death by Living every now and then helps me regain a good focus. :)


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