To be honest, we’d been talking about the capital campaign for some time before it really dawned on me: ‘Oh, right… This includes me, too.’ (Sometimes I’m not the quickest one in the room.) And then I started to get a little bit nervous.
It wasn’t the idea of giving money that made me hesitant. For years, I’ve been giving regularly: ten percent off my paycheck to the church, plus a little more to support missionaries and organizations dear to my heart. I had no trouble giving away that money… But wasn’t the rest of it mine?
And so I started to pray. I literally sat down in front of my laptop with my bank accounts open on the screen, and said, “God, tell me what you want me to do with this.”
A funny thing happened: over the next days and weeks, a number kept coming to mind when I thought about the capital campaign. It was a number I was excited about giving; it was also a number I had no idea how I would give. I am well compensated for my work at Restoration, but no one goes into ministry to get rich. Taking the amount I was thinking of out of my month-to-month income over the next three years felt really hard.
So I went back to God and back to my bank accounts. And another funny thing happened. I started thinking about this separate pot of money I have in its own designated account. It’s money I was generously given by some family members, with the intention that it would be used for “something significant.” Something like part of a down payment on a house.
I’d considered that money off-limits as I’d thought about the capital campaign. Because I knew what that money was for: that money was going to help me buy a house. Someday. In a place with much lower housing costs than Arlington. But still — a house.
But I felt God nudging me; maybe this money was part of how he wanted me to reach that number I had been thinking of giving. As I thought about it, I felt both resistant and eager. Or, perhaps more honestly, I felt scared and thrilled.
The scared part was easy to explain. It’s hard to imagine replenishing that account anytime soon. And as a single person, mine’s the only income from which an eventual downpayment would come. To give that money up felt like giving up my only shot at owning a home, at least anytime soon.
And that’s when it hit me. I had been using that money as a sort of shield: a shield against the fear that I might never have a husband with whom to buy a house together; a shield against the self-doubt that said I had to own a home in order to be a “real” grown-up. As long as I had that money sitting there, I didn’t have to face any of that fear or doubt. But I became pretty convinced that God wanted to use this capital campaign to get me to do just that.
To my surprise, that’s when the excitement kicked in. Not just excitement over the new building and how my contribution could be a (small) part of making it a reality. But excitement over the freedom I felt like God was offering me: freedom from fear, from self-doubt, from the exhausting and unending effort to try to take care of myself. “Let me take care of you,” I felt like God said to me, and my heart leapt up: “Yes, please do!” I don’t know how God will take care of me in this way. But I have new, God-given confidence that he will.
So my contribution to the campaign, my way of responding to God’s graciousness to me and to Restoration, entails giving much of that down-payment money to the church. (A sort of down-payment on God’s house, maybe?) I also wanted the discipline of making regular, ongoing contributions; to practice the habit of saying no to some good things in order to say yes to this very, very good thing. And wouldn’t you know that amount of the one-time contribution and the amount of monthly contributions I wanted to make added up to that number I’d been excited about in the first place?
On Sunday, we’ll all turn in our commitment cards, reflecting our prayerful response to God’s grace. It’s been such a privilege to see the way God has worked in me and in many of you as we’ve walked through this part of Restoration’s life together. Witnessing people’s lives be transformed as they give sacrificially for the building of God’s kingdom… This is the good stuff. I’m so grateful to share it with you.
Photo by David Sawyer. Used under Creative Commons license.