How many apples are in one apple? Sounds like a weird question, but it’s not a trick. You see, one apple has approximately eight seeds. Each seed can be planted to grow another apple tree, and that tree can produce anywhere from 80-1200 apples in one season, depending on its maturity. In each of those hundreds of apples, there are 8 more seeds... Producing more trees and more apples! So, the number of apples in one apple is literally innumerable! We are accustomed to multiplying things though; in our houses, toys, shoes, and children just keep multiplying!
Sometimes though, finances do not multiply at the same speed. Time does not. Energy does not. This has never been truer than it is in 2020. This year has taxed us in so many ways as families. The 2020 EXTRA demand on the resources of our households, our club, our community can hardly be measured. The human cost has been great. Businesses we love have paid the price. Families have faced hardship in ways that we cannot even begin to understand.
So, what’s the answer to depleting resources? Generosity.
Let me elaborate. As counterintuitive as it sounds on the surface, hear me out on this. When times are tight, giving is the first thing we should think to do! Living generously does two things (besides blessing the socks off the receiver, that’s a given!). Whether we are giving our time, money, or energy, it does something on the inside of us. It’s like liquid sunlight to the soul. Giving brightens our hearts in a way nothing else really does. Secondly, it also opens the door for our lack of resources to be met. Like planting an apple seed, provision for our need is built into the results!
Let’s talk first about what generosity does inside our hearts. It’s hard to be generous and continue thinking about our own needs. Generosity is anti-selfishness. Giving puts our need in perspective, and allows us to see beyond our lack. There is ALWAYS someone who is worse off, so to speak, than we are. Taking our eye off our own struggle is the best thing we can do in moments when we don’t have what we need to meet our lack. It is a mental reset button. The act of giving, whatever it is, causes this inner shift in our perspective.
COVID has made work crazy this summer. On top of that, our nanny quit. I had no earthly idea how childcare and distance learning would take place with my work schedule. Around the same time, my dear friend Lisa passed away suddenly. On July 24th, I’ll never forget that day, she left behind her three daughters and husband. Lisa and I had planned for our kids (my oldest and her youngest) to go to the same school come fall. She and I were excited to share the pick-ups, school lunches, and events as families. We just had the type of friendship that I deeply cherish. When she passed away, her husband, now a single working father, was left with a dilemma... getting Little Jubilee to school and back. I was in need, yet I knew I wanted to make the commitment to help with their transportation needs. I didn’t know how it was going to work out, I only knew it was a gift I could give. You know what, it all worked out. By the time schools opened, we had a plan. It is a JOY to give to this family my time. Liquid sunshine every time Jubilee gets in my car.
Secondly and just as important, is that generosity opens the door for our needs to be met. I’ve shared in our group before about our family’s journey with pregnancies and loss. Between Lucas, our oldest, and the twins, we suffered four miscarriages. A tough three years is an understatement! In the midst of these times, we were also working through some financial struggles. This had a compounding effect on our stress and really caused us focus in on ourselves. Also, doesn’t it always seem like everyone else around you are getting what you want when you lack it?! Everyone seemed to be having babies, getting promotions, building homes. We made an intentional choice in that season. Every baby shower, every family we could, we gave generously. We gave our best. We would budget and skip out on other things if it meant being able to bless someone else. Sometimes all we had to give felt so insignificant, like a single apple. I heard a saying though once: “If what is in your hand does not meet your need, then it’s seed.”
Fast forward to our twins. I cannot even put into words how blessed we are to have our twins! And with the twins’ birth came every provision we needed. So many people blessed us generously, we didn’t buy diapers the entire first year! Looking back, we had been given baby wipes that lasted for over 6 months. This was a huge financial miracle in our books, but that was just the start. We were given almost every high-priced baby item we needed! I had chosen one of the most expensive strollers out there, and wasn’t going to buy one until we saved for it. It was given to us, and the car seats, the feeding pillow... all the things! Not used either, all new!
Living generously opened the door for us to blessed in return! This has been true in so many areas of our life, I just bring out this one financial example because 2020 has been a hit to so many families’ bottom line. The same principle is true for our time and energy as well. A favorite Proverb of mine says, “Generosity brings prosperity, but withholding from charity brings poverty. Those who live to bless others will have blessings heaped upon them, and the one who pours out his life to pour out blessings will be saturated with favor.” (Proverbs 11:24-25)
Thinking back about the apple tree and 2020. Although there seemingly is lack all around, by living generously we can significantly impact others and ourselves. What would this year look like if we had a blooming apple orchard to give generously to everyone around us? What would it look like if we gave that one apple? What would it do on the inside of our hearts?
"This generous God who supplies abundant seed for the farmer, which becomes bread for our meals, is even more extravagant toward you. First, he supplies every need, plus more. Then he multiplies the seed as you sow it, so that the harvest of your generosity will grow. You will be abundantly enriched in every way as you give generously on every occasion, for when we take your gifts to those in need, it causes many to give thanks to God.” 2 Corinthians 9:10-12
As we enter into the holiday season, perhaps it will look much different than we planned. Remember the apple. When the opportunity arises, give. As much as 2020’s dark cloud has tried to penetrate our lives, let’s give it some of our own sunshine! Generosity is the key, friends!