I was working out on the treadmill, minding my own business while reading David Platt’s book Radical. And that’s when God dropped the directive into my heart:
“I want you to give $1,000 to your friend’s mission organization.”
I shook my head and squirmed a little inside. That wasn’t God. No way. He knew what my bank account held, and it wasn’t $1K!
But I couldn’t push it out, couldn’t ignore it. This was God, and I was overcome with a desire to give this ridiculous sum of money.
“Okay, Lord,” I prayed, “but you’ve seen my bank account and you’ve seen my student loans. I don’t have $1K. But if you provide it, I’ll give it.”
The most ironic part of this situation was that I had just quit my job—with its insurance plan, 401K and subsidized apartment—in order to try my hand at being a grassroots traveling speaker, trundling across the country with boxes of books I’d written and nothing but the hope and faith that churches and colleges would want to book me. I didn’t exactly have a safety net, didn’t have loads of extra income, and here God was asking me to give $1,000!
One. Thousand. Dollars.
So…why was I suddenly excited?
I left on my homemade speaking-tour experiment with a tiny emergency fund of $150 in my bank account, and the hopes that I could bring in just enough each month to pay my bills and student loans. But when I told God I’d give away $1K if He’d provide it, apparently He decided to show me just what He could do.
I was an unknown motivational speaker with a self-published book, sending out emails to colleges and churches to see if they’d like me to come and speak.
And they started saying yes.
Not all of them, but some well-known colleges and large churches said yes. I couldn’t believe it! My mom was like, “Why are they saying yes? They don’t even know you!”
The only possible explanation was: “This is God. This is totally God.”
Some of those places even doubled my honorarium, without my ever asking.
I sold out of my books and had to reorder three times on that tour. People put money in my hands just because God had put that on their hearts.
And I started putting cash into an envelope. Little by little, my funds started growing. And growing. When I came home, not only did I have $1,000 in cash (which I gave straight away to my friend’s mission organization), but I also had even more to give to other ministries, more to put in my emergency fund, and I was able to pay above and beyond on my student loans.
I was absolutely floored!
And that’s when I fell in love with giving.
1 Chronicles 29:14 says, “For all things come from You, and from Your own hand we have given to You.”
I’d never really thought about the fact that God was providing the money, the energy, the talent and the strength that I was using. All of it came from Him. So when I gave to Him, I was giving Him out of what He had given me first.
Even my gifts to Him came from Him.
I’d always thought of giving as a chore, but suddenly, it became a delight. Through giving, I got to be a part of what God was doing in the world! I got to say, “Where should we give now, God? What ministries? How much?”
But the miracle didn’t stop there. You see, when I quit my job, I had about $50K of debt to pay off between student loans and my car loan. Four years later, every single cent was paid off. And meanwhile, I had been able to GIVE. All without a “real” job!
I found out that we can give even when it sounds crazy (like giving-$1K-when-you-just-quit-your-job crazy). It doesn’t mean you have to give big; you can give small. Every little bit counts—and it changes you from the inside out. As you see God provide, time and again, you’ll slowly begin to trust Him more than ever before—in every part of life.
Sometimes I still struggle with anxiety over finances, or want to hold back from generosity; I’m a work in progress. But that struggle is better than it’s ever been before, because I’ve realized that God gives everything we need—even what we need to give back to Him.