Chapter 5: Revealing the Secret of Living Generously
Rachel challenges us in this chapter to examine our giving and our attitude as we give - not just money but also our time, effort, talents, friendship, etc. Jesus assumes that we will give. In Matthew 6:3 Jesus says "But when you give..." notice He doesn't say if you give. This was something I had never thought about --- but it is so very true. Our giving is an example of our love for Jesus so it only makes sense that we are to give! "If we are not compelled to live generously, it's because we have an eye problem --- We've lost sight of who God is and what He does. We have forgotten the mercy of His salvation, the grace of His presence, not to mention the blessing of His divine savings plan. If we've lost sight of depositing treasure in heaven, then we've lost sight of the fact that this world is temporary and so is all the treasures in it!" (pg 104)
I so related with Rachel when she talked about how she tends to be selfish and self-protective (in comparison to widow woman that fed Elijah that very last of her food) - only wanting to give after I'm sure I've got enough for me and my family - I want to give out of my surplus. But this is the exact opposite of what God wants us to do -- He wants us to give in faith!
Oh Lord help me to give out of my love for You -- out of my obedience to You --- help me to set my eyes on You and see the needs of others around me this week. Lord I pray that You will use me to meet the needs of someone else this week!
Chapter 6: Revealing the Secret of Growth through Trials
I love the part in here where Rachel talks about how Godly beauty results from time spent in the dark of our prayer closet, in the midst of our troubles, when we draw close to and lean on Him. I can assure you that I have experienced this through many trials - my youngest son's cancer, a failed marriage, the death of my boys dad, my parents many health issues, & financial hardships -- just to name a few. And I can testify that I have experienced God's strength through each one.
Isaiah 45:3 says "And I will give you treasures hidden in the darkness - secret riches. I will do this so that you may know that I am the Lord, the God of Israel, the one who calls you by name." Did you catch that --- He calls you by name! What is it about hearing someone call your name? It makes us feel special that they know us and are taking the time to say our name. (There is actually lots of research on the power of hearing your name --- Google it if you want to know more.) Well I promise you, I heard Him call my name many times and He gave me secret riches - hope, peace, comfort, endurance, & grace) in every one of these trials!
Let me share one more thing that Rachel wrote about in this chapter. We are like diamonds. A diamond starts out as a dark, dingy piece of coal. But after years of harsh circumstances, extreme heat and pressure it starts to change into a beautiful, light-reflecting extremely valuable stone. For us, God uses our trials to shape us and buff us so that we emerge stronger, more beautiful, more Christ-reflecting, and more valuable to Him and all those around us.
So the next time you are facing some rough circumstances, remember James 1: 2-4 "Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything." God is right there standing beside us in our darkest day. He also stands in the middle of our tomorrow, fully aware of your future. So see my dear sister, we can have joy in the midst of the roughest storm because we serve the One who calms all storms!