Lee Harizanoff leads an early-risers’ small group every Sunday morning at 7 a.m. She has been a member of The Church of the Resurrection for eleven years. She has also served in missions, Women’s Ministry, the Christ’s Living Water ministry, Disciple Bible study, Church of the Resurrection Foundation, and the Committee on Lay Leadership.
“Bring your full tithe into the storehouse so there will be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the Lord Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it”….”You’ll experience what it’s like to be a country of grace.” Malachi 3: 10 (NIV), 12 (The Message)
For six months I had been involved in a complex project transitioning our business from its long-term autonomy to being part of a global organization. I had to understand the past, yet embrace the new destination. I worked with people throughout the organization, helping them understand where we were headed and finding ways to get there without losing our successful business model. I worked long hours. My brain fully engaged with the possibilities, obstacles, viewpoints, emotions, and details the situation involved. I felt useful. I was contributing. I had purpose. Life was frantic, but I was invigorated.
Just before my birthday, we made an important presentation showing the next steps for our work. I was psyched up. My supervisor asked me into his office, and after a few pleasantries, he began explaining the departmental restructuring and all the factors that had been examined. He wanted to tell me that my position would be eliminated in six months. Until then I was to continue the project. My ears heard the words, but internally I felt as if I had been kicked in the stomach. Externally I nodded my head and said I understood. Internally I was numb. I smiled, and said I appreciated him giving me advance notice. Dazed, I picked up my things and went to my car. My worst fear had come true. I faced unemployment. What I didn’t know then was that it would come at the worst economic time since the Great Depression.
I was a single woman who moved here seven years earlier. I wanted to learn a new business. I left my family and support network behind to do it. I transitioned well. I made new friends and built a strong support network within my church family. I found joy in being able to give of myself and my money to causes I held dear. I had been trying to increase my level of giving to my church each year. Now, facing unemployment, I had no idea how I was going to make it.
I entered unemployment determined to find a new job. I polished my resume, read endless information on job search in the 21st Century, talked to people, took skill classes, and interviewed. I began to realize this wouldn’t be a quick process.
One suggestion I received was to sell some of my things. People were selling on eBay—it could bring in supplemental income. I was unsure about what I had to sell. I did know I had a basement full of “stuff,” and unexpected time in which to rid myself of unneeded things. The journey to put the basement in God’s hands gave me insights I didn’t expect.
In my basement, among the neatly organized containers, God led me to face the futility of owning and controlling material possessions. I carefully went through each box, sorting them into the keep, trash, and give away piles “professionals” recommended. While doing this, in the depths of my soul I heard repeatedly: “What were you thinking when you bought that? Why in the world did you spend money on that? How much did you spend on this stuff? How could you have better used those resources?”
God led me to the basement to take me to another level of Christian growth. I thought I had a generous spirit, but I had corners of myself that still trusted the material. I too often defined myself by what I had, not whose I was. God, I realized, asks for my whole being. I am sustained and filled with abundance that comes from total trust and reliance on God. In His wisdom, I got a deeper look at myself. I learned that the gift of unemployment was increasing my dependence on God’s wisdom and strength.
Through my unemployment, my generosity has actually grown. I don’t have the financial resources I once did, but I still find ways to give. I take meals to people who are healing or in grief. I give my time to support the Group Life ministry and the Resurrection Foundation. I write notes to those facing trials or challenges. I listen to the troubles and pains of others. I pray for many near and far. God gives me many ways to express my gratitude for what He has done for me through generosity to others. Trust in the Lord with all your heart and not on your understanding…and he will make your paths straight. (Proverbs 3:5-6) As my trust and dependence on God grow, I find he nurtures a heart of generosity.
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