Richard Betts, generosity minister
But the Lord sits enthroned forever, he has established his throne for judgment. He judges the world with righteousness; he judges the peoples with equity. The Lord is a stronghold for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble. And those who know your name put their trust in you, for you, O Lord, have not forsaken those who seek you. Sing praises to the Lord, who dwells in Zion. Declare his deeds among the peoples. -Psalm 9:7-11
(This week we will be exploring the practice of receiving generosity through a series of stories written and collected by Richard Betts.)
A few months ago, I asked a friend to join me for breakfast. After giving his order, he went ahead and said, “And whatever he wants; it’s together.” He bought my breakfast even though I had asked him to go with me-assuming we’d each pay for ourselves. Instead of appreciating his generosity, I began thinking about how I’d need to buy the next meal and worrying if I’d now ordered something too expensive. Did I do or say something that suggested he should pay? Did he think I couldn’t afford to pay? I didn’t like the feeling of owing someone else and not providing for myself. I had a hard time receiving my friend’s generosity; however, I didn’t have a hard time eating it.
A few Sundays after breakfast with my friend, I was seated in church when I heard the preacher say, “God has a hard time giving, because we have a problem with receiving.” This hit me like a bolt and has stayed with me ever since, because it’s true. Receiving is difficult and I’m not very good at it. Rather than trusting and receiving the good gifts that come my way, I question them. I allow generous acts to pick away at my pride and sense of independence. How can I ever accept the unconditional and extravagant gift of God’s grace if I struggle to accept a muffin from a friend?
Since then I have intentionally practiced being a better receiver. I’ve come to realize that generosity isn’t about always being the giver. It’s about being willing to accept the role of receiver and allowing others to be generous to us. After all, generosity isn’t possible if there’s no one willing to receive.
Peace, be still (Mark 4:39).
In the contemplative tradition, silent prayer is about cultivating a quality of inner stillness. You may visualize the story of Jesus calming the storm as a way of entering into this quality of prayer. Notice how churned up the waters of your soul are currently. As you breathe deeply, imagine a sacred stillness forming within you. What might it look like to engage all your relationships and daily tasks from this place of inner stillness? As you move through your day, notice when you feel stirred up and when you experience inner calm. Take note of patterns and themes. Invite all of your noticing into prayer as you continue to grow deeper in God as the source of your life and action.
Today’s Prayer for Peace
Engage in a daily practice of praying for peace in our world. Click here to read today’s prayer and be part of this practice of peace.