Recently, I went to a large children’s consignment sale.
Because the consignment only accepted cash or check, I had to withdraw a set amount of money before I entered. Of course, I did not remember this until after I pulled in the parking lot, turned off the car, lifted my son out of his car seat, strapped him in his stroller, and headed towards the building.
When I realized my dilemma, it was a great deal of trouble to retrace my steps, lift my son back out of his stroller, strap his unwilling little body back into his car seat, fold up the stroller and drive in the direction of an ATM (when the consignment sale was located in an out-of-the-way location).
Therefore, when I retrieved the $60 cash from the ATM and headed back to the sale, I was determined to spend every cent of it. I had a list in my head: my daughter was growing out of the size 5 clothes I had just bought her, and I knew they weren’t going to last the winter.
Once inside, I zoned in on the girls’ section, size 6 racks — a woman on a quest. I gave my son his first snack (to buy myself a few minutes of browsing time), and I started to pull item after item off of the racks. Everything she needed.
Pajamas. Pants. Long-sleeved shirts. Jeans. Skirts.
A few women came near me, perusing, but I wanted them to go away. I needed to get to the best clothes first. I needed to clothe my rapidly growing daughter. And as I was hoarding most of the size 6 rack on my pile, I felt a tugging on my heart.
The worship music playing in the background blared a little louder, like someone had turned up the volume — each word pushing into my spirit. I could hear all the verses about letting others go first, about giving and serving — about trusting. And then I felt it — God’s whisper to me.
Carol, I want you to give some of that money away.
What? I didn’t want to. In fact, I was most annoyed at being bothered in the middle of my IMPORTANT SHOPPING MISSION. My arguments:
Me: My daughter needs clothes.
God: I will provide.
Me: I am doing a good thing by shopping at a reduced price establishment — this ain’t Macy’s.
God: She really doesn’t need these items yet.
Me: I’m being a good mom by stocking up and preparing for the months to come. Hello, Proverbs 31 woman, anyone?
God: Do you trust me?
I sighed and surrendered, painfully eliminating a third of the clothes on my stroller, and then I began looking for a target. Everyone near me had moved away.
“Whom do you want me to give the money to, Lord?” I asked.
I felt that it didn’t really matter. The point was to open up my selfish heart.
I got into line behind a woman with her grandchild. As I looked closer, I noticed the stroller was shabby. The woman was dressed in workout clothes — her grandchild in a T-shirt. They only had a handful of items.
I struck up a conversation with her — and when the line neared the cash register, I told her that God had impressed it on my heart to give someone money for her purchases that day.
She didn’t want to accept the money, but I insisted, and then there was an awkward silence as we waited for an open cash register.
I don’t know if she really needed financial assistance. Nothing profound happened other than she got a big smile on her face. But it felt good to be obedient and to not ignore God’s nudge. So many times before I have refused.
I was reminded of some words from my Joyce Meyer New Day, New Day devotional:
One time I gave a woman a nice pair of earrings. My flesh wanted to keep them for myself, but my spirit said to be obedient to the Lord and give them away. Later that woman stood up in a meeting and told how she had been given the earrings she was wearing as a ‘free gift.’ The Lord spoke to me and said, ‘Yes, it was a free gift to her, but it cost you, just as salvation is a free gift to you but it cost Jesus His life.’ Love is the greatest gift of all. When you show forth the love of God, do it freely, sacrificially — and aggressively!”
The very next night, my husband came home with a $25 gift card from one of his drivers. He had picked up an extra job at a driving school when I quit teaching to help cover some of our expenses. One of his students’ parents had given him an unexpected tip.
Not even one day had passed and I got the return for the small bit I had given away. With $5 added to it.
Instantly, I felt ashamed of how I had doubted God could supply for me in my want.
My idea of giving is to give out of abundance — when I have something extra to spare. But God’s idea of giving is to give out of my need when it will cost me something.
And when I do — He delights in showing me what an easy thing it is for Him to replace, even surpass the little that I give away.
Related Bible Verses:
1 Kings 17:13,15: “Elijah said to her, ‘Don’t be afraid. Go home and do as you have said. But first make me a small loaf of bread for me from what you have and bring it to me, and then make something for yourself and your son’ … She went away and did as Elijah had told her. So there was food every day for Elijah and for the woman and her family. For the jar of flour was not used up and jug of oil did not run dry, in keeping with the word of the Lord spoken by Elijah.”
Luke 21:4: “All these people gave their gifts out of their wealth; but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.”