The other day, I shared a note from one of our staff members about the way our current season of “First” has been impacting him. But this isn’t just a vision for our staff; this is vision for our people. So, I was just as encouraged (though not too surprised) to get this note from one of our members, Sarah Short.

– Pastor J.D.

——

When my husband and I first got married, we didn’t give financially to the church at all, even though we’d been Christians our entire adult lives. We were living for our own comfort and that felt really, really good. What was ours was ours, and we worked hard for it, so we felt content to do with it what we wanted, when we wanted.

When we were first challenged to give financially to the church through messages at the Summit five years ago, we both felt this undeniable and simultaneous nudge to finally start giving. So we made a commitment to give. And then we did what came naturally to us: We gave nothing.

Nothing at all.

For six months.

But, God—the faithful, loving Pursuer of our hearts—wouldn’t let us truly rest in our keeping. We couldn’t shake the nagging, consistent, loving elbow to the ribs he kept throwing our way week after week. So, one Sunday, we decided it was time—time to make good on our commitment.

We were scared to let go of our money. We were anything but cheerful about it. But as we began to loosen our grip, God began to peel away the desires for what our white-knuckled hold on our money could give us, and taught us that 100 percent of our money is his money. How could we not give back to him just a small portion of what he’d given to us? 

Was that easy? Not a chance.

Were we cheerful? Nope. We wanted to back out.

Did we expect him to “return the favor” and give us mo’ money? Of course we did.

But God, in his very faithful goodness and love for us, gave us something far better than money. God blessed us instead, for the FIRST time since we moved here eight years ago, with the gift of deep relationships and community. As we began to live generously and open-handed with our money, God multiplied that desire into other areas of our life and we began living generously with all that we have. We intentionally purchased a home with fewer bedrooms and comforts for us (one of our kids lives in a closet, man), but with more space to love others well. We welcomed a family of five to move in and live with us, something we never could have imagined doing years ago.

God’s blessing didn’t come in financial reward, as we expected, but in him giving us a better gift—deep and rich community, both with fellow Christians and with families who don’t know him, so that our family could put the gospel on display in our home, with our resources, and through our daily life together.

God took two fearful, selfishly content keepers and turned us into brave, hospitable, cheerful givers in all areas of our life. We live open-handed now, with all that we have. Not because we have excess, but because we’ve been loved, pursued, and blessed by a Savior who opened his hands on the cross for us.

I’d love to tell you it’s easy all the time, this open-handed life. It’s not. We have to remind ourselves every day that our greatest riches are not found in things and comforts, but in changed hearts and lives—ours, our kids, and the people who come into our home and witness the gospel on display week after week.

We lay it all down. All of it. Our money. Our time. Our home.

Because he laid down his very life for us.