The Generosity of God – Fish and Loaves for all

The Middle Zone Musing topic for this month is What I”ve Learned from the Generosity of Others.  But I couldn’t get beyond the generosity of God and remembering the many times that God has overwhelmed me with overflowing abundance.  It seems to be a very pertinent reminder at this season when so many are grappling with how to continue to be generous when they see their life savings dwindling rapidly before their eyes.

The scripture verse I am always reminded of is 2 Cor 9: 10, 11  which I know many of you are probably sick of hearing me talk about.

“He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousnes.  You will be made rich in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.

In many ways this has become the testimony of my life.  The first time I can remember being overwhelmed by the generosity of God was during my early days on board the Mercy Ship M/V Anasastsis.  We were stuck in Greece trying to resurrect this old ship, with very little money and very few resources.  We decided to call a 40 day fast to seek God’s guidance for the future.  We would meet for prayer every morning in a room that looked out over the Mediterranean Sea.

One day towards the end of our fast we looked outside and notices something flashing in the sunlight.  “The fish are jumping” someone called and we raced outside to find fish jumping out of the sea and stranding themselves on the beach.  We actually collected 8,301 fish that morning – and that isn’t counting the ones that got away. It was as though God was saying – in my time and in my way I will provide the harvest.

Fish in Greece

Fish in Greece

That was almost 30 years ago and though the Anastasis is no longer with us Mercy Ships is still providing medical and surgical help to thousands in Africa

God has poured out that same kind of generosity throughout my life.  I have always had enough for my daily needs and a generous amount to give away and I am not just talking finances here. God has given me generous gifts and talents which have multiplied as I have shared them with others in ways that continue to astound me. God has also given me generous friendships and colleagues.  Tom & I have friends literally all over the world.

God’s generosity isn’t confined to the pages of the Bible or to some deep distant past.  It present all around us today too but often we don’t see it because we hold to ourselves the things that God intends us to share.  The feeding of the 5,000 began with the generous act of sharing by a young boy who was probably hungry willing reached out to others with the little that he had.  The miraculous way in which God provided for Elijah through the widow and her son only occurred because she was willing to share her last meal.

I think that we only become aware of the abundance of God when we share our limited resources with others a theme which I have already reflected on in my post What I Learned from Stress in Times of Financial Crisis . But we also only become aware of the generosity of God when we look for it in the everyday events of our lives.  If we focus on our own needs we can easily get caught in a mentality of scarsity and feel that we don’t have anything to share… and that makes us more and more acquisitive and less generous.

What do you think?  Where have you become aware of the generosity of God in these days of scarsity?

Bringing in the Harvest

Yesterday we harvested 40 lb of tomatoes and over 200 lb of apples.  We are sharing them with friends, drying, canning and eating as fast as we can cope with while they are still fresh.  The generosity of God in providing like this is amazing and I really struggle as I walk around the neighbourhood and see the apples that just fall to the ground and rot.  Are we indifferent to the goodness that God expresses in this way or is it just that we are so busy that we never even notice.

As the world rocks and rolls with the financial crisis that it is going through I think it is a good time for us to remember the kind of harvest that God provides.  God not only cares but wants to provide – not just for our own needs but so that we can reach out and help others too. The challenge is that we get all caught up in our wants rather than our needs and so often are totally oblivious to the generosity of God’s provision that is intended to be shared with others.

As it says in 2 Corinthians 9:8-11 (New Living Translation)

And God will generously provide all you need. Then you will always have everything you need and plenty left over to share with others. As the Scriptures say,

“They share freely and give generously to the poor.
Their good deeds will be remembered forever.”

For God is the one who provides seed for the farmer and then bread to eat. In the same way, he will provide and increase your resources and then produce a great harvest of generosity in you.

Yes, you will be enriched in every way so that you can always be generous. And when we take your gifts to those who need them, they will thank God.