Made in the Image of a Generous God

A couple of weeks ago, my five-year-old raided his piggy bank for some change. Equipped with nickels and dimes, he went around the house to each person, handing us a coin. I told him I didn’t really need his money. Why, I asked, was he giving it away?

“I am made in the image of a generous God,” he explained as if it were the most obvious thing in the world, “so I am giving away some of my money to be generous.”

I thanked him and put the nickel in my pocket.

Less than a month ago, if you can believe it was that recent, our building was safely open for our midweek Lenten program: The Generosity Project. We got through two of the five sessions before our building closed for the time being. As part of each week’s program, we stretched, breathed deeply, and heard the blessing: “You are made in the image of a generous God.”

Apparently the message stuck! We all know that there is value in repeating what we need to know until it sticks.

There’s a real knack to being generous, I think, which some of us grasp with ease and others of us have to practice. Being reminded that we’re made in the image of a generous God is one way to practice generosity.

My son’s generosity reminded me that there is another aspect of generosity: receiving what we are given with gratitude. I wasn’t very grateful for the nickel when it was first offered. I didn’t really think I needed it.

It made me wonder if God ever gives me some gifts that I try to politely reject. Especially, I began to wonder if there were any gifts God was giving in the midst of pandemic. Now, let me be very clear: I do not think that God caused this virus or intended it to teach us a lesson. I have begun to notice, though, that when I am looking for them, God’s gifts are evident in my daily life.

I’m not loving having the gym closed, but I’m trying to spend more time outside in my own yard to make up for it, where I’ve noticed several springtime gifts. For instance, tulips are my favorite flower, and it’s a gift to me that I get to see them changing each day. Two of mine have even bloomed!

Given the option, I wouldn’t have the library closed, either. However, I have discovered a gift of unread books from my childhood, boxed up in the closet. I am now rereading and sharing them with my kids. That might not have happened otherwise. I wonder what gifts you’ve received in your own life these past two weeks.

Generosity and gratitude go hand-in-hand. People who are good at giving are usually also good at receiving. These weeks and the ones ahead will give us all opportunities to give and receive, especially if we look for them. Through it all, remember: you are made in the image of a generous God.

Generous God, help me to give and receive with grace. Let me live my whole life trusting that I am made in the image of generous You. Amen.

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