Stepping Up

I’m pro-life.  

One of the major criticisms of pro-lifers is that we make a big deal about the abortion decision, but are largely silent and absent on the issues relating to choosing life for a child rather than aborting a baby.  I’m not sure how accurate this criticism is on a broad scale, but I have to admit it’s one that I’m guilty of.  I will happily preach and teach in any number of formats and forums on the moral and sacred sanctity of life.  But I don’t regularly contribute to organizations or causes or individuals struggling to raise their child.  
I don’t intend to be negligent.  I’m not aware of specific instances where someone is in need.  If I knew, then I could respond.  Some would say (rightly so) that part of my job is to find out, or to donate and support organizations rather than individuals.  To figure out what the organizations and services are where this sort of need is known.  This is true, and it’s a reminder to me to be proactive and not reactive.
I think another issue that stops many people from responding is fear.  I can’t donate very much.  It won’t possibly make a difference.  Why even bother?  There are so many people in need, we can’t possibly help everyone.  Why even bother?  It can be a very all-or-nothing mindset that keeps our hands and wallets in our pockets.  We assume we are responsible for the whole burden, the whole need, the whole success or failure.  
But we’re not.  I’m not.  As a Biblical Christian I’m called to do my part.  To allow the Holy Spirit to use me the way He wants to in any given situation.  That may mean giving $5 or $5000.  What I give isn’t dependent on what I gave to the last person or what someone else gives in the same situation.  I’m called to be faithful to what I’m asked to do and be, and to trust the Lord for the rest.  I can barely brush my teeth some mornings – the idea that I should personally try to shoulder the burden of another person and see myself as wholly and solely responsible for making everything right is ludicrous.  But it’s all too often effective at keeping me inert rather than responsive to the Holy Spirit.
A colleague of mine posted a link on Facebook to this story today.  A five-month old child with a devastating condition which will kill him by age two, but for which a procedure exists that shows promise (58 successes out of 60 procedures performed).  But it’s expensive, and due to budget cuts, state Medicaid won’t cover the procedure.  
I donated.  I encourage you to read the articles and if you feel so led, donate as well.  Maybe it won’t be very much.  That’s ok.  If you’re a Christian, listen to what the Spirit is leading you to do and follow through.  Leave the rest in God’s hands – where it always resides in the first place.  Share the story with others you think might be interested.  Talk with your friends, your family, your congregation and pastor.  These are other ways that we can give and help and the impact is multiplied greatly over what we ourselves can personally do.  
And if tomorrow you’re hit with another opportunity to donate, another need identified, don’t simply assume that because you gave today you’re off the hook.  Pray.  Listen.  Respond.  Trust.  This is part of the Christian life first and foremost, as well as part of being pro-life.  

4 Responses to “Stepping Up”

  1. Mike Says:

    I rarely give money (except for kids who sell stuff at my door). It’s not that I don’t want to, if I had a bunch, I like to think I would.

    I used to feel a little bad about it. Then I realized I have always chosen work that is in service of my fellow man. Ultimately, I believe giving of yourself (your time, your compassion, your concern, etc.) is the actual basis of charity.

    Paul, you have chosen a life of service. As is usually the case, the pay sucks. I wouldn’t dwell on rarely donating money. Your life is entirely about giving.

    Well, sometimes it is about beer, but you get my point.

  2. Paul Nelson Says:

    I think you’d be a much easier boss to work for, Mike.  But I’m not sure you can promise the same benefits & retirement package!  In any event, I love & admire you too.  Thanks.

    I don’t think it’s an issue of feeling bad.  There are likely to always be people worse off than we are.  That’s a tragedy to be certain, and we should never lose sight of being responsible both for being wise with what we have and how we use it, and trying to help others.  But feeling guilty is swinging the pendulum too far the other direction.  In self-absorption or self-abuse the focus is on the self, rather than where it ought to be (God).  

    We can give of ourselves in lots of ways, and certainly some people’s vocations are more visibly charitable than others (though in Lutheran theology, there is no such thing as a ‘non-charitable’ vocation except for vocations that obviously violate God’s directions for living).  It’s a blessing when our vocation lines up so well with what we are designed to be that it doesn’t really feel like sacrifice.  That’s how I feel these days, and I’m so grateful for that.

    However…all that being said, charity and love of others never reaches a point where we’ve done enough or met our quota.  It’s constant, and ideally, constantly increasing.  I hope that as I get older, I’ll find that I’m more prone to giving than I am today, more easily moved to compassion, more willing to offer the benefit of the doubt.  I pray that happens, and if it does, it won’t be because I’m a great guy, but because God is greater than I am.  

    As corroboration of God’s greatness, you can certainly consider beer.  I prefer to consider tequila.  TOE-mato, toma-TOE.

  3. Dianne Says:

    As you get older, and your children are taking care of themselves, you will be more prone to giving. When we have young children, we are concerned (and rightfully so) about taking care of them. Our children are grown and doing quite well and we are blessed for that. God has provided us with the ability to help others beyond our family. So I’ll have one of those tequila drinks…………whatever!

  4. Paul Nelson Says:

    Very true, I suspect.  And I look forward to tequila drinks sooner rather than later!

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