The Cheerful Giver
I recently went on a personal hiatus during which, I made a conscious effort to draw back from many social events, including several ministry activities. The impetus for this was to declutter and consolidate my personal life. I have, over the past few months, learnt to slow down and do less (literally). I made it a point not to stack my daily and weekly schedules with activities and managed to do away with unrealistic to-do lists.
Apart from the daily routine of taking care of the household, managing my children’s school obligations, and selective gardening and art projects, the simplicity of my life seemed to pale in comparison with many of my peers both here in Australia as well as those in Singapore. During this time, my family faced an additional challenge of waiting for a decision on the status of our family visa application.
While we remained confident that our life destinies were rightfully anchored in Christ our Lord, I couldn’t help but wake up in the morning and ask the Lord to show me our future. If He had called us to serve in this land, then where was our visa?
As we waited, I felt the Lord challenging my perspectives – to think beyond my own needs. I sensed him calling me “to think and do out loud”, a concept that seemed like a contradiction to my season of slowing down.
During this time, I volunteered to serve at a local soup kitchen organised by the church. I was put solely in charge of preparing and cooking a six to seven course dinner for a community of 40 people who were either marginally housed, disadvantaged or mentally challenged. Through this outreach, I got to do what I loved – creative cooking within a very strict budget. By using my homegrown vegetables, I was able to reach out to the locals through food and the sharing of God’s goodness. While I thought that the outreach was a great idea for the community, I didn’t intend to make it a long-term commitment.
Slowly however, I began to understand that the heart of the Father is much bigger than each of us individually. He views the needs of the corporate body as dearly as He views our personal needs. I was brought to the awareness that every plate of food handed out, every God-filled conversation and every prayer counts. I had a deep sense of God challenging me to revisit what it means to inherit the mindset of “a sower and a reaper”. As an avid food grower myself, this concept should be a no-brainer.
“The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work. As it is written,
“He has distributed freely, he has given to the poor; his righteousness endures forever.”
2 Corinthians 9:6-9 (ESV)
Yet, I found myself asking, What am I sowing? Where should I be sowing? When do start or end my sowing? How must I sow?
I began to realise that with the organically grown produce from my little garden plot, I was able to provide a nourishing meal for those who otherwise wouldn’t have been able to afford a decent dinner. This has given me the courage and confidence to believe that I am able to think and live beyond just caring for my needs and the needs of my family. This one-off encounter has led me to feel drawn by the Lord to commit to doing this on a more regular basis.
As we continue in our journey of life, we are bound to meet with good and not-so-good days. I am challenged to think and and make decisions based on my knowledge of who God is and precepts of His word as well as His calling upon my life.
It is also in this moment as I am writing this, that we have just received an email informing us that our visa application has been approved and we are granted a long-term visa!
Oh God, you are my Ultimate Giver, no less!
Deanna is married to John Chiong and is a stay-at-home-mom of 3, currently based in Melbourne, Australia. A former staff of COOS, Deanna loves to create art, enjoys experimental cooking and is an enthusiastic organic gardener who dreams of one day using creative therapy and food to reach out to the marginalized throughout Australia. You can follow her on Instagram @deefatfarm or @weareakrylic