It's been twelve years since I've seen my Uncle Brian. He's my mom's brother - and he lives in Tennessee. The ten hour trip between Pikeville, TN and Edenton, NC meant I didn't see much of him, my aunt Debbie, or my cousins as a kid. But the times I do recall spending with them were very good times. Uncle Brian reconnected with me tonight. I was surprised to hear from him - so we spent some time catching up. I told him about my life at the University and about how much joy I'm finding every day. When he told me about things back in TN, the tone of the conversation changed.
Uncle Brian's currently unemployed. And that's been the case for over a year. He told me how he left a 12-year position at La-Z-Boy and moved out of the state to work one of those grueling 100-hour-a-week jobs that just destroys your body. When that job didn't work out, he came back to TN, only to find that outsourcing, in combination with his color-blindedness, would prevent him from returning to his previous position. As he told me about how hard it is to look for work when none's available, I began to realize just how lucky I am. Uncle Brian ended the conversation by telling me he didn't want to keep me from my studies - but that he loved me and I should take care of myself.
I hadn't talked to my uncle for 12 years. My relationship with him has never been too deep - I was, after all, 8 years old when I last spoke with him. But he very vulnerably and lovingly shared his heart and his pain and his troubles with me tonight. I walked away from that conversation realizing how easy it is for us to become hardened by the world around us - and how much we need to fight to keep that from happening.
If you're not out of a job right now - or you aren't experiencing major hardships - count your blessings. Realize just how blessed you are. Now, take a step back. Gauge your blessings. Gauge the blessings of those around you. Think on this for a moment: why do you think God's blessed you so much? What's so special about you?
Nothing. You are no better of a person than your neighbor who's out of work. We are all equal beings. The only inequality is in the distribution of resources in our society. Now, why would God distribute resources inefficiently? It's the perfect plan to encourage generosity.
If you have excess, God doesn't intend for you to squander it on yourself. You're called to take that excess and meet the needs of those around you. God designed this system to teach you love and compassion. Parting with your money is one of the hardest things you can do - but we are meant to do it. When you take the initiative to share your blessings with your neighbor, you are reflecting the pure love of God. After all, isn't that what he did when he gave us his Son? God, who had an abundance of righteousness and sanctification, passed on his Son so that we might share in that righteousness. He replaced our empty, broken sinfulness with his filling, complete holiness. Knowing that we are recipients of the most beautiful Charity in all of history, we should be compelled to reflect that in our own giving.
As the holiday season approaches, you're presented with a very real opportunity to share the love of Christ through giving charitably to others. In Durham, there's a cool organization called Share Your Christmas. Through it, you can sponsor a family in need and give them a Christmas to remember! I've done this in the past - and trust me, it's fantastic! You get to shop for the family, deliver the presents, and even cook a holiday meal for them! It's a unique opportunity for you to meet the needs of the people around you and share the love of the Gospel in a very tangible way. I encourage you to take the steps today to adopt a family this Christmas. Use this form to sign up. If you have questions, please let me know. I'd love to chat it over with you.
I hope that this post helped you to become less hardened and to realize why God gives some excess wealth. You are called to share your resources. Spread around your wealth and help out those in need not just this holiday season, but for the rest of your days!