Giving Builds Bridges
I booked a flight. I packed my bags. I was ready to go.
I was flying to visit my friend Karen and her family, but at six o’clock that morning, a text came that my flight had been canceled. Karen had rearranged her schedule to pick me up, and now I had no way to get there! I was frantic when I called the airline!
The nice young lady on the phone apologized, but there were no economy seats left and would I mind being bumped up to First Class?
Mind? Mind? Heck, no! Bump away! I’d never flown First Class before. I was all in!
As I sat there in a big comfy seat, eating a delicious meal (no peanuts included) served with real china and flatware, looking out at the landscape far below, I actually cried tears of joy! Not from fancy food or pampering but from realizing that God had arranged this experience simply to delight my heart! He didn’t have to give but chose to give in this extravagant and completely unwarranted way. I felt loved, deeply loved by Him. That’s what touched my heart.
We all give. We give at our jobs and in our families. We give to neighbors who need a cup of sugar or a lawnmower. We give to the elderly man that needs our chair at the DMV. We give a smile to friends and kindness to a stranger.
These are all good gifts, given from our plenty to those in need. It’s a beautiful practice and makes us feel good, too.
But, is there something more? Giving that surpasses just a sharing of resources?
What about the kind God gave me in that First Class seat? An extravagant, undeserved, over-the-top kind of giving. This kind has more to do with reaching another’s heart than simply sharing what we have.
God has everything. Plenty and more. Yet I think giving like He did, extravagantly and deeply, was to show me I am loved. It built a bridge from my heart to His.
Think of a bridge. There are so many parts that go into building a bridge: I-beams and girders, rivets and bolts, cables and wiring. All of these come together to build a structure that spans a space otherwise impossible to traverse.
What if God is in the bridge-building business?
What if He invites each of us to build with Him by giving?
What if every time a chance comes and we take it, another piece of the bridge between that human heart and God is put in place?
What if this is all someone needs to know that they are loved?
One of Jesus’ parables explores this idea deeper. Allow me to paraphrase “The Parable of the Prodigal Son” found in Luke 15.
Now, usually people apply the word “prodigal” to the son in this story because of his “wasteful extravagance.” However, I propose it also applies to the Father. “Prodigal” can also mean “giving something on a lavish scale.” See what you think.
A rich man has two sons. One day, the younger son asks his dad to give him his inheritance now so he can live it up and run wild. Surprisingly, the dad does! The son leaves, squandering his dad’s hard-earned money on wine and women until he is broke and destitute! Not until he is homeless and starving does he come to his senses. He hitchhikes home thinking maybe he could beg his dad to hire him a fieldhand.
When he staggers over the last hill, his dad is standing at the gate searching the horizon for his lost son. Dad runs and, in a Hollywood movie moment, throws his arms around his son, weeping for joy! While the son apologizes, his dad drapes his own coat around his son, kicks off his own boots and puts them on his son’s naked feet and calls out to the neighbors! “'For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.' And they began to celebrate.”
This father is our Father. His unrestrained and merciful giving is what brings His child back into His arms. This prodigal love spans the distance. Likewise, we too can give lavishly and become bridge builders with God.
Is it hard for you to imagine what being a bridge builder looks like?
Prodigal giving could come from your wallet or just your helping hands. It could come from your time, your compassion, your knowledge and, most importantly, from your mercy. The ones that need our extravagant love most may be those that seem to deserve it the least, like the run-away son in the parable.
Just give like God gives to you. Lavishly. Faithfully. Lovingly.
“Generosity is a state of the heart, not of one’s wallet. We are generous because God has been and continues to be generous with us. He lavished His love on us, and this should cause us to respond in kind, in every aspect of life.”
(The Hebrew Meaning of Generosity: In Giving We Receive” -FIRMisrael.org)
If you are like me, you might be thinking, “How can I possibly give like this?” It might seem overwhelming or even impossible.
I can only say that we are not building these bridges alone and that the strength to give comes not from us alone. God is right there directing, teaching and providing us all that we will need to give like this.
“And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.”
Phil. 6:1 ( NLT)
Friends, take the first step, trust God to lead and start building some bridges!