A story about the wealthy newspaper tycoon William Randolph Hearst tells that he once saw a picture of a beautiful portrait painted by a famous artist. He decided he must have the portrait. He hired a detective to track down the work of art. Several months and several thousand dollars later, the detective reported that he had good news and bad news. The good news was that he had indeed located the portrait. The bad news was that he found it in one of Mr. Hearst's warehouses. He already owned the painting!
This Sunday we begin our stewardship emphasis thinking about the importance of self-examination. This spiritual activity has many dimensions, some of which can be very practical, like investigating our storehouses to see what we already own. We can assume what we can and can't afford, but until we examine what we have we don't know for sure.
I once led a building campaign in a congregation seeking to construct a new sanctuary. One couple visited with me to say they would not be able to make the gift they hoped to make. In fact, it was going to be about half of their anticipated pledge. A couple weeks later they called and asked if I could visit with them again.
They were supposed to go out of town but a snowstorm forced them to stay home. Unable to leave the house the wife asked her husband to spread out their financial information. They inventoried their past year. They had done much better than they thought. In fact, they were shocked at how different their actual and perceived net worth really was. They said they were sticking to their original plans to support the campaign (BTW-they were the lead gift).
It might not sound like the most spiritual activity to review what you have, but I can assure you it is a spiritual multiplier. Any time we assess the ways God has blessed us (and don't limit it to material blessings), we will create a ledger that confirms a powerful assurance of God's blessing that day-to-day realities can obscure. I hope you will try this exercise. Write out what you "owned" January 1 of this year. List all of your accounts, assets, non-tangible gifts, etc. Then write out what those are today. What might you discover about what you already own? I believe you will say, "I am blessed!"
See you Sunday,