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Giving to Gain

( [email protected] ) Jul 10, 2009 11:09 AM EDT

"But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well."

In a Reader' Digest article, author Robert Fulghum tells about "an international chess competition many years ago in which a man named Frank Marshall made what is often called the most beautiful move ever made on a chessboard. Playing against an equally skilled Russian master, Marshall sacrificed his queen in an unthinkable move—a move to be made only in the most desperate of circumstances. But it turned out to be a brilliant move, so brilliant that the Russian conceded the game.

"When spectators recovered from the shock of Marshall's unusual tactic, they showered the chessboard with money. Marshall had achieved victory in a rare and daring fashion. He had won by sacrificing the queen."2

One of my life's goals was to build my own home, which I did in South Australia quite a few years ago. It was high up at the top of the Adelaide hills overlooking the city and the ocean beyond. The view was magnificent. I built that house with the idea of living in it till the day I died. At the time my ministry was flourishing and there was no way I planned or wanted to leave the house I built or the work I started. But the "Hound of Heaven" kept bugging me ... and bugging me ... and bugging me through circumstances beyond my control. In exasperation I finally prayed, "Okay, God, you win. You can have my new home and my ministry and everything I have here. I'll go anywhere in the world if you'll just give me peace."

I think God must have a sense of humor too because in my prayer I said, "But P.S. God, please don't send me to Alaska because I hate the cold."

Little did I know what lay ahead. As a result of what I thought was "sacrificing" my most prized earthly possession, God has blessed me far beyond all that I dreamed would ever be possible (not that it happened overnight). The ministry I believed God called me to has greatly expanded, and I am now living in, of all places, sunny, warm Southern California. It was no sacrifice!

I've learned through experience that you cannot out-give God.

If there's something you are holding on to that is hindering you from becoming and doing what God wants you to be and do, consider it prayerfully and be willing to let go of it. As another has said, "Don't sacrifice your future on the altar of the immediate."

And as Jim Elliot, martyred missionary, said: "He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose."

Suggested prayer: "Dear God, if there is anything I am clinging to that is hindering my becoming and doing all that you envision for me to be and do, will you become 'the Hound of Heaven' in my life and show me what it is. And please give me the courage to let go of it to become all that you want me to be, and to do all that you would have me do. Thank you for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully, in Jesus' name, amen."

1. Jesus in Matthew 6:33 (NIV).

2. Robert Fulghum, "Time to Sacrifice the Queen," Reader's Digest, August 1993, p. 136.

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