I like to be told exactly what to do. Pay a 20 percent tip. Tithe 10 percent. How many times have I googled “How much do I tip a dog groomer?” I want to know the precise amount to give in order to be a good, upright person.
This is why the story of the widow’s mite leaves me uneasy. What is pittance to the listener is a fortune for the widow. How, then, is one supposed to know the right amount to give? Google will certainly be no help here.
So for several weeks, I pondered the question: “What does it mean to give from one’s poverty?” During one moment of fatigue, it meant digging deep when I wanted to ignore someone’s request for my time and attention. I responded instead with an unexpected energy I didn’t realize I had. At another moment, it meant moving forward on a project when my default was to hold back in fear of rejection or failure. Jesus beckoned me to give from my poverty and allow God’s gifts in me to shine forth, fear and all.
I discovered that to give from one’s poverty is less about an amount than a state. It is a willingness to act from a place of vulnerability when the final outcome is uncertain. It is the shifting from reliance on one’s own limited resources to faith in God’s limitless generosity.
There might not be a way to calculate exactly what is demanded, but I’ve discovered some hints that I’m going in the right direction—freedom and joy, mixed in with my human resistance.
Thank goodness that God’s patience is also limitless, just waiting for our willingness to let go and receive.