Tithing: Forgive us our debts

I have bad luck with cars.  A Frenchman wrecked my Pontiac Sunfire  in 2008 (small price to pay for a hilarious story that involves cuss words in foreign accents), I’ve slid off the road in snow storms, hit multiple animals, and then this winter my husband and I hit a deer.  My third Honda that had a mere 164,000 miles on it was officially totaled, and now I had to figure out how to replace it.

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Two weeks prior to my fateful encounter with PA wildlife, my dear friend Geraud also hit a deer and totaled his car.  Both of us had insurance, but Geraud had worked for a long time to get his car and had just purchased it 6 months earlier.  This meant that when the insurance calculated his claim, the value of the car was worth less than his outstanding loan and he had several thousand dollars left to pay off.  He would be making car payments for another year on a car that no longer existed, and with no hope of getting a replacement car until the debt was paid.  Geraud has a very caring family but they were not in a place to be able to help him financially.  I owned my car but it was old with high mileage, so my insurance claim was only about 1/3 of what I would need to find a suitable replacement.  So we were both in a predicament.

My grandfather passed away over the summer, a man who had a varied and complex relationship with the rest of my family, and with whom I had no relationship.  At exactly the same time as these two car accidents, I was notified that I would be receiving a modest inheritance from him.  When I heard this news I felt a wide range of emotions.  I primarily felt strange and in some ways guilty for being given this money by a man that I didn’t know.  I felt like I now owed him something and was in his debt, an impossible debt to repay to the deceased.  I was at a loss as to how to process this situation.

At that point, the Lord revealed something to me about money and all of our resources.

14 “But who am I, and what is my people, that we should be able thus to offer willingly? For all things come from you, and of your own have we given you.

– 1 Chronicles 29:14

As C. S. Lewis puts it, any gift that we offer to God is like a child asking his father for a sixpence to buy him a present.  All that we have is not our own possession, but is our allowance from our Heavenly Father with which to cultivate the creation.  In light of this truth, the inheritance wasn’t my grandfather’s money but was an inheritance from the Lord.

As I was thinking about the situation of the two cars, I had a deep sense that the inheritance money was provided at this time to meet the needs of both of God’s children.  My husband and I decided to tithe from the unexpected provision that we were receiving to offer a shared inheritance with Geraud.  The 10% that we were sharing was not enough to get Geraud a new car, but it was enough for some starter funds to begin a crowd-sourcing drive.  We opened a Rally campaign expecting that it would take several weeks to raise the full amount that was necessary to pay off Geraud’s loan and to give him a down payment for a new vehicle.

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The Rally.org campaign for Geraud lasted less than a week!

Because of the kind of person that Geraud is and the kind of Christian network that he has, we raised $6000 in five days.  His earthly family may not have had that kind of money, but his spiritual family does.  We called it his “Jubilee car” as a reminder that we serve a God who specializes in cancelling debts. God’s resources offered two of His children a rich inheritance in their time of need.  Not an inheritance that comes from human hands with any strings attached, but an abundance from our Father who owns the cattle on a thousand hills.  Such generosity bids us to know the blessing of freely offering back to the Eternal Giver.

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