Saturday, September 02, 2006

Investment Dividends

I have no idea what that means! If the stock market goes down, it doesn't affect me at all. I just thought it sounded really professional and you might think this stuff was actually worth reading! So I looked up the meaning of "dividend" and it is a share of surplus allocated to a policy holder or a resultant return or reward.

In order to get the reward, however, you must invest. Investment demands sacrifice. You make do with less now, for the purpose of having more or enough in the future.

We have not made any financial investments (except the minimum that is required by Mike's job - and if we think we are going to live off that we are in trouble!)
But I've realized that although there isn't a lot of extra cash flow right now to invest, there ARE investments I must make. They will also involve sacrifice.

My grandparents came to visit us last weekend. My Grandpa will be 90 in January and my Grandma is in her late 80's. They still live an active life, they drove themselves here - a 4 hour drive. But they are great examples to me of investing. Grandpa is a World War II veteran and after that he farmed. They had good times, but also hard times including a lot of health problems and the loss of a baby. But they didn't take that as a reason to become bitter or ingrown and pity themselves. They are people that live their lives for God and for others. Always thoughtful, hospitable, loving and generous. Passing on the love of Jesus to everyone they meet. They drive their friends to their doctor appointments, they still entertain lots of people who WANT to stop by for a visit (and they have a very small kitchen), they have a great relationship with their grandchildren and great-grandchildren because they are willing to give. They played with us on the floor when their backs hurt. They watched cartoons when they'd rather be watching the news. The times we visited the farm were so filled with fun and love. They will always be special memories. And now my kids are enjoying those visits to the farm as well.

I wonder, do you think in the last 80 years there have been times when they felt like not giving? It was probably difficult, exhausting, inconvenient and maybe expensive. I bet there were days. But now as they are aging, I can see the dividends. A life full of memories, joy, love, family and friends. They have been a major force and influence for Jesus in many lives through their service and generostiy. I'm not sure the world would think that they were wealthy (they do have a pretty nice car though!), but they truly are and I think they are smart enough to know it!

I want to share something that my Grandma wrote in her book chronicling our family history. She is writing this to the grandchildren:

"My constant prayer is that each of you walk in fellowship with God and claim Jesus as your own Savior. We know, too, that there are virtues that need to be present in our lives:

1. Hospitality - genuine caring open heart and home.
2. Generosity - not only give of our money but give of oneself.
3. Integrity - a genuine honesty in all things.
4. Purity - plain and simple, keeping oneself clean in life."

They have and are still living that out and I hope I have learned a few things by watching them. There's truly no retiring from the Christian life.

We have some friends that are adopting a baby. They already have 4 children: 2 natural, 2 adopted. They could have more natural children but this is their ministry. The costs are going to be beyond what they have. I would be jumping ship! We don't have that kind of money. But she said at the end of life what am I going to look back and say I wish I had spent my money on. Certainly it is this! So I am in awe watching them completely step out in faith for God to provide what they need. Most of us wouldn't think twice about taking out a $10,000 loan for a car, but for an adoption - are you crazy? Now that's an investment. The dividends will come in eternity when there is one more person that has heard about Jesus Christ because they were willing to take this little baby in.

So, where do I need to invest? My time is one thing. I need to use it to help and serve others. The most obvious is my own family (although they seem to be the hardest!). But there are all sorts of people around us that could benefit from our time. Listening, helping, encouraging and ultimately showing them Jesus.

My money is another part. Although it feels like we don't have any extra to give a lot of the time, we really live in abundance. We have two cars, a house full of stuff and food. We buy things and go out to eat - maybe I need to be more sacrificial with my money. It's easy to give extra money and not nearly as easy to sacrifice so there's money to give!

Hospitality, opening my heart and home to people. That one is tough for me. It doesn't come naturally. But I think I need to ask God to show me where he needs sacrificial investment from me. At times, it will be beyond my comfort zone but that's when I need to walk by faith.

I want my kids to learn to use the things God has given them for His work. Whether it is time, a talent, or money - it's all His. And I guess that starts with learning it myself and living it out so they can see it.

Our dividends for godly investing will not come to us in a nice neat portfolio with charts and graphs on it. In fact, we may not see them on this earth at all, but there is someone who watches and gives growth to our investments.

Matthew 6:19-21
"Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth,
where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal.
But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven,
where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.
For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."

Psalm 62:10
"Though your riches increase,
do not set your heart on them."


Your Pastor said...

I think I'll use this in SonLife's next newsletter. Remind me.

Michelle said...

I stand corrected! My mother has graciously informed me that my Grandma is 85 years old which is not officially "late 80's".

Anonymous said...

My husband's grandparents sound a lot like yours. Sadly, his grandpa's health is failing. They are at the place in their lives where they aren't really able to create a lot of new memories. They spend a lot of time at the doctor's offices. They also spend a lot of time thinking about all the good times with family and friends (which they have many) and validating that their lives had value.
When I worked in a nusing home after high school, I always said, "Of the people that live here, I have no idea who was the investment banker or accountant or farmer, but I do know who is loved by their family." Those people always had visitors and pictures up on their walls. I want to be loved and cared for when I am ninety so I am trying to invest in those relationships now, too. Thanks for your blog and reminding us to remember the big picture of life.