I prayed, "Lord, I don't know what the future will bring. But, I will ask you just this one thing. Never put me in a position when I can't give when You tell me to give."
God has answered that prayer!
We lived through a lot of lean years - years in which I learned that God did not expect us to give money at the expense of providing for our family. What He did ask for was obedience to His will, His word, and his Voice! The encouraging news is that in the last 21 years we have been able to save more money and give more money than I ever imagined.
There were many years in which the money budgeted for giving outside of our monthly tithe was very, very small. This was incredibly frustrating to us. We wanted to give! Here are some things we did to give when we had no money.
Although we did not have much money, we did have knowledge and talents, which allowed us to help others. It seems that one of the main talents that I possessed was living a long time on a little money. After a few years of employing our budget-stretching ways, we began to have other couples come to us and ask how to live debt-free. We had them over for cookies and coffee and offered them our counsel for free. We showed them how to create a budget, set goals, and pay off debt in record time.
On the receiving end of this equation, when my oldest was in high school a dear friend had just retired from teaching. She offered to tutor James in French, for free! What an amazing offer! Not only did she do it, she did so for two years! We could never have paid for one-on-one tutoring sessions!
If you have no money, consider giving of your talents to bless others and meet their needs.
For over two decades I have made all of our family's food from scratch. When my boys were young, we baked a week's worth of bread, muffins, and buns every Tuesday. We finished up the baking session about noon. Carefully, we placed an assortment of the warm baked goods on a small plate. The boys then delivered it to our neighbor, an older single lady. Her sister told me much later that Ginny refused to eat lunch until her weekly bread arrived. That homemade bread meant the world to this lovely lady!
Here is another example. I made three kinds of homemade soup every single week. I still do. I began to notice that on certain weeks that the Lord would prompt me to make a little extra bread or soup. On these weeks, a friend or neighbor, whether sick or just discouraged, would need a special meal. My boys saw this happen again and again. We would wrap up the homemade goodness, add a handwritten card, and pray over it. We thanked the Lord for allowing us to care for others. We thanked Him for the chance to minister to them. We asked that He bless it and give them peace, comfort, and assurance.
Our church started a food pantry about seven years ago. At the time our oldest son was in high school. He leaned over to me during service and whispered, "Mom! I want to be involved in that ministry!" As a result our entire family began helping stock the shelves with food once a month. Finding a way to help others who are in need is a fantastic way to build the faith and maturity of your children. There are a multitude of ministries and community organizations who would love to have your family gift them with your time. Don't know any? Call around, ask around, and look around. I guarantee you will find some opportunities to volunteer.
As you help others, your own faith will be built. You'll have fun, bless others, and be blessed at the same time!
Do you have any other suggestions or have stories of how God has given you the chance to bless others even though you did not have any money?
I'd love to have you share them in the comments!
Do all to the glory of God!