They were perilous days…and then some angels smiled upon us.

I was a young, successful rural school principal.  But after two years of small-town living, more education beckoned.  And so that summer my wife and I and young child moved to the city where I began a Master of Education degree program.  We rented a small house, I started graduate classes, we got by on my teaching fellowship stipend from the university.

Then it all fell apart.

By late October I was in isolation, hospitalized with some mysterious, undiagnosed disease.  As my life’s blood drained away, it took two weeks to identify the attacker – a near fatal case of Crohn’s disease.

Income from my teaching fellowship disappeared.  The bank account hit zero.  My wife visited the local Social Services office to see if we qualified for welfare.  As the doctors grew more concerned, I kept wasting away and the gastroenterologist told Joy to prepare for the worst.

Then one day, as I lay weakened down to 125 pounds, the nurse appeared by my side and left a bulging, letter-sized envelope on my bed.  It was post-marked from the little town church we had attended for two years before heading to the bright lights.

As I opened the envelope in my weakened state, it was like heaven started to rain down.  First one cheque, then another…they just kept spilling out…cheque after cheque…some small amounts, some astonishingly large…along with numerous money bills and even some coins.

On that afternoon, my hospital room was transformed into a sanctuary and those sacred moments forever shaped my heart.  Until that day I had little experience with lavish generosity.  Yes, my wife and I had dutifully tithed.

But when I saw the names on those generous gifts from salt-of-the-earth Christians: farmers, teachers, electricians, housewives, who had all dug deep for me and Joy and little Chris, it was then God began to tune my heart with the song he loves to sing, the song of generous living and sacrificial giving.

And I came to understand that we must all give so others can live.  This is the call of the Christ-follower.  There is no greater mark of a true Christian than authentic generosity.  The great divine, John Wesley underscored that there is no room for complacency when it comes to generosity,

“When a man becomes a Christian, he becomes industrious and prosperous.  Now, if that man when he gets all he can and saves all he can does not give all he can, I have more hope for Judas Iscariot than for that man!” 

On the marquee of God’s expectations for his children, the word GENEROSITY flashes 24-7 in very bright lights.

“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world.  For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’  …  ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.”  (Matthew 25:34-40)

The Apostle Paul echoed Jesus’ sentiments with his words to young Timothy,

“Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant or to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment.  Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share.  In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life.”  (1 Timothy 6:19-19)

We can’t miss it when we meditate on these Bible passages – Jesus draws a straight line between our generous care and concern for others as both an expression of our solidarity with him, and as an essential criterion for our entrance into eternal life.

Be inspired by this true story,

“Thirty years ago, my world almost fell apart.  I had surgery, was fired, and then informed by the IRS that my employer had not paid employment taxes.  After a few weeks I saw a flyer about a Japanese festival.  Although a physical and emotional wreck, I decided to go.  There, I met a Japanese gentleman with whom I chatted for a few hours.  A few months later I came home to find a bouquet of flowers and a letter at my door.  It was from that same friend.  Inside the letter was a check for $10,000 to help me through my rough patch.  Sixteen years later, I met a family that had been evicted from their home and needed $5,000 to close the escrow on a new house.  Without hesitation, I handed them a cheque for the full amount.  They call me their angel, but I remind them that I, too, once had an angel.”  (Hassmik Mahdessian, Glendale, California)

In the halls of heaven, may every Corpath member be known as an angel of generous giving.

Blessings for a joy-filled week,

Gordon Dirks

President Corpath