I am sure that all of us have received a forwarded email at least once that required us to “pass this along to 10 people in the next X minutes or days” or the worst luck shall hound us for all eternity. Although I consider these emailed chain letters irritating, I often find that for the most part, the main content of these emails is good – usually inspiring. Today, someone sent me a “Christian Cartoon” email, with of course that request at the very end. However, the request started a little differently. It said, “Concentrate on this sentence… When God takes something from your grasp, He’s not punishing you but merely opening your hands to receive something better…. The will of God never takes you where the Grace of God will not protect you.” Where I am at right now, that sounds like God talking to me through the email.
We are all being affected by the economic downturn. The future does not seem to look that bright and cheerful at all. Some of us are affected more directly and intensely than others. It seems that the “abundance” we had once has been “taken away from our grasp”. It is easy to get bogged down by the “loss” we are suffering. I know I have. Reading this quote, however, reminded me of what I often talk about in stewardship. “Everything is a gift” – even this challenging time we are facing. It is not God punishing us but His way of asking us to open our hands, to let go of something we are grasping so tightly so that we can receive something better.
A Christian steward is a person who receives God’s gifts gratefully, cherishes and tends God’s gifts responsibly, shares one’s gifts in love and justice and returns one’s gifts with increase to God (USCCB Pastoral Letter on Stewardship: A Disciple’s Response). During this financially difficult time, stewardship challenges us not only to share our treasure, but our time and talent as well, beyond what we believe we can do or give, so we can grow individually and collectively as God desires.
At times like these, when this call seems to be more difficult to respond to, I am reminded of a quote I have in my office:
“Hope is stronger than memory. Salvation is stronger than sin. Forgiveness is stronger than bitterness. Reconciliation is stronger than hatred. Resurrection is stronger than crucifixion. Light is stronger than darkness…Hope is stronger than memory!” (Kennon Callahan, Twelve Keys To An Effective Church)
Hope and faith in God will allow me to let go but before I can do that, I need the Holy Spirit’s guidance and to ask myself, “What am I grasping so tightly that I need to let go of so I can receive something better?”
For more information on Stewardship, visit our site at: http://www.archchicago.org/departments/stewardship_dev/stewardship_dev.shtm