By Leah Wacek
God's Brave Women - Leah's Story
Ten years ago, my pastor said these simple words: "You can't out-give God." I spent a few days wrestling with the idea and finally decided to test the theory.
It started with my husband and I giving away 10% of our paychecks. We saw the biblical call to tithing and recognized the privilege of being able to look back over thousands of years and untold amounts of people across the globe giving their first and best to the Lord. We were just starting our marriage and careers. We had small incomes and big loans. When we added up what we owed and what was coming in, there was no extra. The only way to do this was to bravely give the 10% upfront and believe for the rest.
When payday came, we wrote our first check to the Church. Knowing that we were giving and spending more than our salaries could cover was unsettling at best, but we decided that if God was who He says He is, He would prove Himself up to the task. Somehow, we paid all our bills that month. We recalculated, wondering if we had somehow gotten the basic math wrong. It didn't seem to make sense, but we had known Jesus long enough to realize that He often operates outside human logic.
"We had known Jesus long enough to realize that He often operates outside human logic."
The next month, we did it again. We tried not to think of all the things we could do with that sizable amount. We watched our friends and neighbors buy and do things we envied. We threw internal tantrums and then drug ourselves to the cross, reminding each other that Jesus is our treasure. Miraculously, we came to the end of the month with enough to cover all our bills.
The next month, we again started with giving and ended with a bit MORE than enough. This cycle has wound its way through an entire decade of our lives. Our generosity has grown. Our giving has expanded. Never once have our finances suffered in the wake of generosity.
Giving in big, sacrificial and small, mundane ways has become the great adventure of our lives. It's astonishing to see our gifts expand into jaw-dropping miracles in the hands of our capable, loving God.
"Giving in big, sacrificial and small, mundane ways has become the great adventure of our lives. It's astonishing to see our gifts expand into jaw-dropping miracles in the hands of our capable, loving God."
We will never stop. When we are challenged to give more, it is now thrill that builds instead of anxiety. God has proven himself so very faithful and it has been our great JOY to know Him in this way.
As we've realized that money is not our only resource, the Spirit has led us to expand the idea of giving into many aspects of our life. We realize that while money is one of our resources, it certainly isn't our ONLY option for pouring into the world. In fact, when we look at the stories of the original givers, we recognize that they gave flocks, oil, wine and crops to the Lord as a way of communicating their trust in His provision.
"We realize that while money is one of our resources, it certainly isn't our ONLY option for pouring into the world."
A few years into our journey of generosity, we decided to go beyond finances. When we had been short on cash, we trusted, gave it away and found, somehow, a full measure returned to us. Of the list of resources we compiled (finances, cars, home, yard, clothing, talents and time), our scarcest resource was time.
We were still early in our careers, raising littles who needed our constant attention. We were short on sleep and NEVER had enough minutes in the day to get it all done. Giving away what we quite literally had NOT ENOUGH OF seemed crazy more than courageous.
"Giving away what we quite literally had NOT ENOUGH OF seemed crazy more than courageous."
Then we re-read the story of the widow who gave her only coins and was promised she would be remembered for the whole of human history because of her faith. Our thoughts turned to the boy who gave the 2 loaves and the 5 fish, which turned into MORE THAN ENOUGH in the hands of a capable Creator.
It was decided: God can expand our offering. He was faithful with our finances and now He was calling us into the deeper, and dare I say, more difficult area of giving our time. Money can always be made, time can't.
"It was decided: God can expand our offering. He was faithful with our finances, and now He was calling us into the deeper, and dare I say, more difficult area of giving our time... We set a goal of giving away 10% of our year - 36.5 days."
We set a goal of giving away 10% of our year - 36.5 days. We researched options and ended up with a list of places that were desperate for help. Some were local, others far away. We prayed and made a plan.
Our list of places to give time included:
- a women's prison (25 minute drive)
- our home church
- mentoring a group of local middle schoolers
- a homeless shelter (45 minute drive)
- an orphanage in the Dominican Republic
With the exception of our trips to the Dominican, it is all, really, quite simple. Here is our basic recipe:
- hire a sitter
- drive to where we were going and have UNINTERRUPTED conversation in the car
- hang out with totally awesome people
- have ANOTHER conversation on the way home.
- hold hands
- finish our sentences
It's laughable now that we ever viewed it as a sacrifice. It was one of the very best things we ever did for our marriage, and, in turn, for our kids.
We experimented for a year, trying to out-give God in the area of time, and it turns out that He is just as faithful with our days as He is with our finances. Every time it seemed like our calendar would burst, we chose to give away the thing that we needed most, and always found it returned to us, a good measure, pressed down, overflowing into our laps.
"We experimented for a year, trying to out-give God in the area of time, and it turns out that He is just as faithful with our days as He is with our finances."
We've been doing this for years, and when people ask us HOW we manage to give away 10% of our time, I'm a little sad that it seems like such a massive lift. It's not. Every place we go is just a normal place where normal people can get involved. I guess that's the reality of living the Gospel, though it's not as complicated as we make it. Being kind, loving our neighbors, and doing what's right have never been EASY, but they've always been simple and straightforward.
And we will continue to give to the One who has given His all for us.
Brave Woman Manifesto
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Leah Wacek is a middle school Spanish teacher, mother to four rambunctious humans, and aspiring writer. She wouldn't call herself an "expert" on kids, but she's getting mighty close. If human beings had flavor to them, Leah would tend toward the spicy end of the spectrum. She is competitive, driven, and funny.
Leah has been writing for several years on her blog leahwacek.com about her family's journey towards radical generosity. Leah and her family live in Minnesota, where her gifts of writing and teaching have provided opportunities for her to lead several Women’s Retreats with her home church, New Day. She is also a regular contributor to their devotional series.
Follow Leah on Instagram @a.generous.life or sign up for her newsletter to hear about the creative ways she and her family are returning to Jesus the first and best of their talents, treasure and time.