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Words of Abundance

Your Host, Randy Petrick
  • Writer's pictureRandy Petrick


Updated: Mar 28

Did I Give the Right Amount but to the Wrong Place? Or to the Right Place but the Wrong Amount? How Can I Possibly Know?

A brown paper wrapped box being passed from the hands of one person to the hands of another

Have you ever been part of what I call “God’s heavenly schemes?” These are times when you know in your heart that God is encouraging you to volunteer your hands and resources on His behalf, times when you have little doubt that God wants you to be one of His personal delivery couriers.

These are times of incredible synchronicity, wherein God lines up the people, the resources, the timing, and the willingness of His stewards to result in what seems truly miraculous from our human standpoint. And sometimes, He opens our eyes to see and appreciate (and participate in!) those moments.

Only one problem seems to accompany those situations…God doesn’t send us specific memos indicating exactly what He wants us to do, who He wants us to give to, how much He wants us to give, or exactly when we are to give.

A woman sitting with her head in her hand looking worried.

God may indeed be directing us with a still, small voice – a gentle nudge. But amid our noisy lives, it’s easy to miss that voice, that nudge. We all want to hear God’s voice, and maybe we do hear it, but it just says, “turn right” but not “how soon,” “onto what street,” “at what milepost,” or whether it is a hard right or a slight right. Or maybe the voice transmission is garbled, and all we hear is “turn,” but we miss hearing the rest. We want to steward God’s resources faithfully but fear making mistakes. At least, that’s my story.

Giving in the wrong amounts or to the wrong places really used to worry me. Did I give that person too little? Too much? Should I have given something other than money? Was there somewhere else or someone else I should have given to instead? Thoughts like those can make you crazy. I was so relieved when I found this quote:

“God may be pleased, indeed delighted, with us even if we are giving the wrong amount, even if [we] are giving to unworthy or inappropriate causes. As we learn more about stewardship, of course, we will want to grow in those respects. We can spend a lifetime trying to find better ways of fulfilling God’s expectations. But, for starters, our principal concern in giving should not be where to give, or how to give, or how much to give. First, let us focus on the why. If we give with hearts full of devotion for the God who loves us, then the questions of where and how and how much will work themselves out in time.” –Mark Allan Powell

Whew! At least I knew I had the “why” part generally right, even if I messed up a how much, a when, or a who. Maybe, I realized, stewardship isn’t always about how much we give. Maybe it’s more about how our hearts respond to God’s promptings and our desire to reflect His love to others. Here’s a story to go with that thought… For many years, I traveled three or four times a year from Los Angeles, CA, to Sedona, AZ. It’s an easy day trip, so my general practice was to stop halfway (about the CA/AZ border) to get some lunch and fill up with gas. That generally held me the rest of the way into Sedona without any further stops.

Then came a trip on which I was traveling along as usual but got this odd impulse to stop for a quick snack and a second refueling about 40 minutes outside of Sedona. There was NO LOGIC to it! I could have more easily and efficiently done the same things 40 minutes later upon arrival in Sedona, but I got this odd impulse to stop, so I did.

The remaining rusted out shell of what used to be a gas station.

As I drove into a service station/mini-mart off the exit (not this one), I first noticed a late-model pickup truck parked just off the property with its rear tailgate open and a woman resting in the back. It was a warm day, so I didn’t think much about it. It was just unusual, so I noticed it.

Then, as I drove into the gas station area, I noticed a young man sitting on a curb with his head bowed and a sign flat on the grass beside him that read, “Traveling on Blessings.” I suspected he was connected to the truck with the woman resting in the back. Hmm.

I filled up with gas, got my snack, and was starting to pull back out of the area when the wording of that young man’s sign popped back into my head. “Traveling on Blessings.” (I guess we’re all traveling on blessings to some extent, right?) The young man was still there with his head bowed, and my heart went to him.

A close-up photo of a person in a red flannel shirt starting to pull some money out of a wallet.

So, I pulled over next to the man, rolled down my passenger window, got his attention, and said, “I couldn’t help but notice your sign, and it really spoke to me. I want to contribute to those blessings you are traveling on.” I reached into my wallet and handed him a folded bill in a larger denomination than I was usually used to giving.

His face lit up, and he extended his arm to me through the open window. It wasn’t enough to shake my hand. He grasped me by my forearm, and with tears rolling down his face, he said a simple “Thank you so much.”

As I left, I just happened to look in the rearview mirror. The young man was running toward the woman in the back of the open truck with his hands and head raised to the heavens in evident gratitude.

That incident made me conclude: If God calls me to be generous, even if His promptings seem a bit irrational, I want in! I don’t want to miss opportunities to help others travel on blessings. And if I make a few “mistakes?” I’m not going to worry, and you shouldn’t either. God can work good from all our giving...and we can always know He’s pleased anytime we reflect His heart of generosity.

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