In October, at our Tennessee Light The Way event we provided $20 bills to event attendees and challenged them to give away the money away and share their stories of generosity. The theme you will quickly see is that the true reward of generosity is the joy experienced by the giver. It’s less about the size of the gift and more of the delight of the Lord.
May these stories inspire your heart to take your next step as you read about the impact felt in the community and beyond.
This story is really OUR story of generosity and not my own. The donors who provided the $20 generously gave me the opportunity to be generous with their resources by entrusting me with the $20. While generosity is not something I struggle with (thank you life lessons), this opportunity carried with it a sense of responsibility to the initial giver. The money was not my own. This experience was a very tangible reminder and physical illustration of just what our Father has provided and entrusted us with. HE is the one who first gave generously to us. Whatever it is that we have to give was not our own, to begin with and was not merited. It was entrusted. We have the opportunity; however, to decide whether or not we will follow through. HE gives and lets us & trusts us to participate in HIS generosity.
Though it was just $20, I felt a responsibility to the initial giver. I prayed for the right time, place, person(s). Nothing felt immediately right and then yesterday I saw them. Two teenage girls had set up a bake sale in the mall. They were raising money to fight childhood cancer. They had a variety of fresh baked cookies and bottled water displayed, a poster and a glass jar too collect the $1 per cookie donation. At first, but as I passed by I suddenly knew where the $20 I was given was supposed to go. Without a word, I turned around and placed the money in the jar. As I did so, I caught a glimpse of the girls’ faces, their eyes lit up with simultaneous joy and disbelief. Heartfelt “thank you so much” flowed from their lips. Those girls were giving their time and cookie talents on behalf of others – for children and families who are suffering. This is the heart of Jesus.
Thank you for the opportunity and the reminder!
– Lonnie Cochran
Each day on my commute to and from work I see many individuals on the streets holding signs. Most of them I have seen for months hanging around the same corners. Most days like anyone I am busy on my way, but on occasion I do speak with them, try to help, offer money, or suggest The Nashville Mission where I wish they would go for assistance/help. Most won’t, and I know that.
The week of Thanksgiving my commute was light, traffic was light, and the normal rush and heftiness of the drive seemed less. I pulled up to the corner of Haywood Lane. It was early and cool. I saw a man I have seen before. He’s older with a thick gray beard. This time I pulled my truck to the side and stepped out.
I had the $20 folded in my hand, but not to where he could see it. He walked towards me, and I said kind of loudly, “Good morning sir!” with a smile. He said the same and I asked if I could offer him a hot cup of coffee or some food, as there is a Hardee’s within walking distance. He declined, and said he was alright, and that he had a place not far, but due to whatever reasons he did not want to disclose he was there. I did not want to press. I could tell that he actually looked happy I was chatting with him, rather than just handing $1 out a window passing by.
I gave him the $20 dollars and shook his hand. I said, “God bless you, stay positive man and go get a cup of hot coffee and some food.” He smiled and nodded his head in agreement. I don’t know what he did after, but I hope he took a moment to sit down and enjoy a hot cup of coffee.
If you take away a lesson from my story it would be this: I don’t think he would have cared if I gave him $1 or $20, or $1,000. The shock that I stopped, got out of my truck, and engaged in conversation with him might have made his day or changed it. I know a simple, kind gesture of a smile and a “How are you today?” goes a long way.
– Jonathan Dooley