Have you ever had one of those protracted conversations with God about how much you should give? It’s very frustrating, not least because you think you can come up with a sensible number, but you know that what God might ask us to give is practically limitless.
When I think about the examples of giving that we have from the Bible, the really odd thing is that money doesn’t get much of a mention. Gold, yes, to symbolise Kingship rather than for its monetary value, and frankincense and myrrh; and there are quite a few loaves and fishes going around too. All of these things have some monetary value but the point seems to be that the giver is matched to the moment, to what is required at that time, whatever that might be.
I think God wants us to show a bit of imagination when it comes to giving, and for us writers that may literally mean imagination, as well as all the other skills and talents that we bring to bear to our writing. If the bible tells us that the giver gives what they have to match the needs of the moment, then for us writers our giving might be in the form of our writing talents.
And that doesn’t sound too bad, does it? We can write for the parish paper, or we could write an article about someone in the church. Maybe there’s some deserving person that your church community has reached out to: a homeless person, a refugee, someone in prison? Answering the call to write someone’s story is a wonderful example of standing with someone, of bearing with them. Simon of Cyrene carried Jesus’ cross, the widow at Zarephath took her little flour and oil, and made bread for Elijah, the Samaritan crossed cultural and personal boundaries to help the man attacked on the road to Jericho.
This last example is particularly interesting because it shows us that God might require us to give in a way that takes us far outside what we think is sensible, reasonable, and controllable. Writing the story of a refugee might sound like a big ask but I could manage that, I think. But what about the gay person who has started coming to church. Or what might I do if a transgender person has joined us and wants me to help with telling their story? Whatever the stretch example is for me or for you, we know that if God is doing the asking there’s only one answer we can really give.
And what God asks us to give is only that which we have to give; the lesson for us, I think, is that the manner in which we might be asked to give it, and the context in which we make the gift might be the thing which really makes us grow as a follower of Jesus.
Andrew is the presenter of The Creative Writer's Toolbelt a podcast that offers practical, accessible advice on the craft. Andrew has published fiction and collaborated on a number of ghost-writing projects through Authentic Media, including the bestselling, 'Once an Addict' with Barry Woodward. He has also self-published a number of science fiction short stories.