One of my responsibilities at the Ministry Centre is to provide design support as needed. So when I first heard the theme for our next General Conference in 2008, [You’ve been treated generously, so live generously – that’s so like Jesus.] my thoughts jumped immediately to the best way it could be graphically explained. I thought about it . . . and then I thought about it some more – what image(s) could I use to express “living generously”? I had a few ideas, but to be honest, I was not excited about any of them.
That’s when I started thinking about the dandelion. Now, I know what you are thinking, “Lisa! Dandelions are weeds popping up in our nicely manicured lawns and gardens!” But does that not reflect something in us as Christians? Isn’t that “popping up” behaviour exactly the kind of life that Jesus calls us to lead? We are not part of the mainstream . . . we swim against the flow . . . we are “not of this world”. Doesn’t the world often see us as different? Shouldn’t they?
The dandelion is one of the first flowers to appear when the sun begins to warm the earth. After a time of maturation, when the season is right, it is transformed and releases its influence through seeds as far as the wind will carry them. When I think about living generously, this is the imagery that becomes most vivid to me. There is a resiliency that dandelions possess that I quite admire – their ability to grow and flourish in adverse conditions reminds me of brothers and sisters living in countries generously sharing the Gospel at great personal sacrifice.
Generous living is not a quality that is readily adopted by society – the pursuit of personal success and achievement; bigger homes and better cars are the sought after items – the new status symbols. Recently, “The Real Estate & Wealth Expo” with keynote speaker Donald Trump took place in Toronto and was completely sold out. Individuals who have “arrived” materially are viewed as leaders to emulate.
By contrast, living generously is about reaching out to others in practical ways to bring about change. It is a conscious decision that we need to make everyday. Sometimes I fear that I may fill my days with so much “stuff” that I miss the opportunities God has placed before me – I’m simply too preoccupied to see them. Living simply, investing in people and projects that will allow me to give myself away – I think that is generous living.