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Generous Living

When Fred and Jolean Eicher’s adult children had all moved out, the empty nesters imagined their golden years would play out without a hitch. For many years they had worked hard, lived within their means, and planned well for retirement. They couldn’t yet imagine the plans God had in store for the second floor of their home, now empty and quiet.

Shortly afterward, Kim Miller, one of the ladies in the Eichers’ Neighborhood Group, befriended a young woman and invited her to join them. Kim introduced this single mother and her 2-year-old son to the Eichers, and over the course of the next few weeks they got to know her story. The young mother told them how she had turned away from the Lord in her teens and made some poor choices. But ever since she recommitted herself to follow Jesus, God was transforming her life one piece at a time. But her journey wasn’t over yet, and it became clear to the group that this sweet, hard-working young mom needed a place to stay and a chance to make a fresh start.

God began to stir the Eichers’ hearts, and it wasn’t long before Jolean and Fred knew exactly what He was calling them to do. The second floor of their home would make a perfect place for this young mom and her son to stay until they could get a place of their own.

“Times like this require you to accept the unexpected, stay flexible, and go with the flow,” Fred realized. “We’ve been given another opportunity to be used by God and share what we have to serve others.”

Blessed to Be a Blessing

If our every breath is a gift from God (Genesis 2:7), then all of life is stewardship. Everything belongs to Him at the end of the day, and He has given us a lifelong calling to “…be rich in good works and generous to those in need, always being ready to share with others.” (1 Timothy 6:18 NLT) God sends us into a world laden with needs, entrusting us with the time, skills, and resources to meet them.

As the Eichers stepped out of their comfort zone and took up the task of helping this young woman, they saw others step forward to help out. “I’ve been blessed to see church members donate a vehicle, a laptop, and beds,” said Jolean. “Just as importantly, they’ve opened their doors and given their time to this sweet family.”

The Eichers also met Tena McNair at New Life Directions Ministries, an organization dedicated to serving single parents in distress. Tena taught them how to maintain healthy boundaries to give this family the support they need in a manner which preserves their dignity. Fred and Jolean committed to giving it their all, walking alongside and encouraging the young mother.

“After retiring from my job of 30 years, I now have more time to give,” Jolean shared. “I have the time to sit with a wonderful little boy in my lap while he eats his breakfast, and time for late evening talks with a hardworking mother after she puts her restless 2-year-old to bed.”

Kingdom Investments

Living generously isn’t just about our finances. We all have ways to give our time and our skills to invest in the lives of others. In fact, it wouldn’t be far from the truth to say that this is the whole goal of the Christian life—to take everything God has given us and hand it right back to Him in loving dependence, serving others in order to make lasting investments for the Kingdom.

While the world around us perpetuates the idea that we have to look out for “Number One,” Jesus shows us a better way. Once we recognize that everything belongs to God, we’re free to invest in His interests. “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness,” Jesus tells us, “and all these things will be given to you as well.” (Matthew 6:33 NIV®)

Unexpected Joys

For Kim Miller, it has been a heartwarming experience to see what God has done in the life of this young mother and her son. “It’s been so awesome to watch Him continue to bless her at every step in her journey toward independence and a new life for her family,” she said. “I love watching it unfold and I’m excited about their future!”

For the first time in many years, the Eichers are reliving the joys that come with having a 2-year-old living at home. They’ve made daily sacrifices to share their home and their time to serve this family, but they wouldn’t trade it for the world. “We get to be a part of all the things God is doing in the life of this family,” Fred remarked. They’re experiencing the truth of Jesus’ words firsthand: “…It is more blessed to give than to receive.” (Acts 20:35 NIV®)

The Eichers would be the first to tell you that it’s not the size of your bank account or home that matters. It’s simply sharing what you have with someone who could use help. At first, Fred and Jolean were tempted to simply wish this young family well with a kind word and an encouraging Bible verse; instead, they chose to put the Word into action by sharing their home and their lives.

Eternity in View

When we embrace our role as stewards, our priorities change. We become grateful for everything we have, recognizing it as a gift. We make more room to give what we have to others, recognizing that God has entrusted us with everything we have. And in the end, when we finally see Him face to face, we dream of hearing those words reserved for the stewards who have lived for His Kingdom and not for this world: “…Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!” (Matthew 25:21 NIV®)

This article originally appeared in the February 2017 issue of our NEXT magazine. Pick up a copy at any Southeast location or download the tablet app by searching for “Southeast Next” in the App Store or Google Play.