The Bible teaches us to live generously. Those lessons come easily and naturally for some, and a bit harder for others. The world is full of givers and takers. A wise man once told me, “givers need to set boundaries, because takers never will”.
We have learned from the path that we’ve walked that giving comes in many forms. There was a day when our income was reflected in our generosity. Many reading these words have benefited from our financial giving and sharing of our ‘things’. Then, as we lost our business, home and large income, we learned that there is a better way to give, and that is to give of ourselves to those who need a shoulder to lean on, or a small light of encouragement. Many of you have also benefited from a word, prayer, or a shared tear.
It feels good to offer our heart, either financially or with just a sympathetic ear. It gives us a value and purpose. In many ways our life change to living our mobile lifestyle has changed much of that. We don’t have as much access to long term relationships to be much help in understanding your needs. We have a few phone calls with those we love. We exchange emails, FaceBook messages, or texts, and I thank God for the treasure of a age with this electronic instant communication. However, we still lack the opportunity to wrap our arms around our friends in times of trouble or times of joy. This is a part of our path that God has set us on that doesn’t make sense.
At the same time, I know there is a new lesson growing deep in our souls. I remember at the loss of our business, one of my greatest fears was not for ourselves and how we would survive the financial loss, but for our friends. We loved to give, and to give generously. When we saw a need, and we agreed between us that we felt we should help, we helped as best as we were able. Then, when we lost our income, how could we continue to help? With time, and a few hurts, we learned that we had something more valuable to give than our money or things, we had time. We had time to listen, we had time to hug, we had time to pray, and we had time to play. For the first time in our life, we learned that what we now had was more valuable than our money. People needed an ear, a hug, a prayer, and our time.
Now, I don’t have the money, or the time. Not because we don’t have time – we do. But we don’t have time with the old friends that we have loved so much. We have time – alone. So, what is God teaching us now? I don’t know that answer yet. I’m waiting. Will I ever know; will I ever learn it? But I can tell you about a new experience for us.
Since we have started this life on the road, there has been many challenges. Where do we go to work on the bus? We can’t live just anywhere, it has to be a manageable climate. It has to be legal to park. In the case of building our bus, we needed a place to make noise and sawdust. We need a place with electricity, water, and a place to dump some very smelly liquid. It needs to be a place with enough space for a forty foot long, forty-thousand pound beast. And, somewhat level is a plus. So, not every place is practical or possible. We’ve learned that we must trust friends to provide a location. We can rent in parks for a short while, but the cost to do that often is prohibitive. In addition, when repairs are needed, we need to ask for help. I don’t know much about huge diesel engines (or small ones either). Then, who do you go to when the car needs repair, or you need a ride, or who can we depend on when we need a shoulder to lean on?
We’ve learned that America is still full of good people. God has put many of them in our path. We have met countless others who have a unique understanding of our situation and are very willing to reach our their hands. This is a new lesson for us. We are learning to receive.
Learning to receive, for a couple who have spent our lives giving, is a new, and almost painful, experience. We have found that we are embarrassed to realize that we don’t know how. We find ourselves trying to repay every step of the way. Then I remember those years of helping others and I would have been hurt to have my gift returned. When given, we truly wanted to bless the receiver, not increase their debt. Yet, we feel indebted, not by word or actions of those who have given their time, money, or ability, but by our own foolish pride.
I promise, we will try to learn not to throw your gifts back in your faces, but to only be grateful. But, we are also trying to demonstrate that we are not users. We haven’t come to take from anyone, but we continue to wish to give back. We have met users and, like many of you, we have simply shook off or even forgiven the offense. Please be patient with us as we learn to be grateful and not deptors. We haven’t found the balance yet between gratitude and repayment. If you have wisdom we would value sage advise. Yet, sometimes the lessons of time and foolish mistakes have been my best tutor.
So, our payment back to you, not from a heart of debt, but a heart of gratitude we wish to offer you our thanks. We have tried, when possible, to go out of our way to say thank you to each of you who have helped so much. You all know who you are. I wouldn’t dare mention names, and you, being givers, wouldn’t want to be mentioned publicly. But, we have talked, and all of you have our thanks.
You have fixed our bus, You have given cash from your pocket and driven us to a week of humble tears, you have fed us your food, you have worked on our car, you have provided jobs and periods of income, you have given rides, you have provided a place to park, you have shared your electricity, your water and your homes, you have provided tools, time, and advice, you have offered shoulders to cry on and ears to listen. You are new friends, you are bothers and sisters in the Lord, you are more precious than ‘things’.
From a humble heart, a heart that is learning, but not yet understanding; from this heart, Amy and I want to offer our heartfelt: Thank You!
There is a blessing that has become a part of our life in many ways. That blessing we wish to repeat to you:
May the Lord bless you and keep you.
May the Lord make his face to shine upon you,
and be gracious to you.
May the Lord lift up his countenance upon you,
and give you His peace.