Then he said to them, “Go your way. Eat the fat and drink sweet wine and send portions to anyone who has nothing ready, for this day is holy to our Lord. And do not be grieved, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.” – Nehemiah 8:10
“May you experience joy in your fundraising.”
This postcard arrived in my mailbox last week and now hangs on my refrigerator. It’s not the message I normally associated with fundraising. Anxiety? Fear? Stress? Yes. But joy? Not so much.
What about you? What would seem out of place for you on a similar card?
Raising a teenager?
Commuting to work?
Finding a job?
There’s much in life that we don’t naturally see as joyful. But if we look at scripture, joy isn’t dependent on our circumstances. Joy is from God. It is being connected with hime It’s a product of his peace, his shalom.
As I prepare to serve full-time with InterVarsity Christian Fellowship in the fall, I’m entering a season of fundraising For years the mere thought of having to raise funds for a salary prevented me from taking this leap into campus ministry. But as ministry to graduate students and faculty has been growing in Greater Cincinnati, I know this is the next step.
My first response to this work of fundraising has been resistance. I see myself battling with my inner introvert, my fears of rejection, my grasping to material security. I come up with many excuses why I shouldn’t contact this or that person.
However, over the past weeks a new story is weaving through this work – the story of God’s gracious ministry to the campus and desire for peace. Seeing this story, I’m becoming more eager to invite others into the ministry and more open to seeing how God will work in each appointment. I don’t need to be concerned about getting a certain amount of financial support from a given individual, instead I can watch how God is working and be thankful. I can step out in his joy.
A simple call to a distant relative encouraged me more. I called with some trepidation thinking I would be asking too much. But not long into the conversation I heard support for the ministry, a willingness to share other contacts, and some wonderful stories about my father’s family. I also learned I had called on this cousin’s birthday. Without the fundraising work, I would not have called and would have missed building these family connections.
There can be joy where we least expect it.
Of course, this joy isn’t only about the events that turn out well. Whether I feel it or not, joy is also present when I receive a return postcard from a family friend to remove them from the mailing list – or when I have a list of 20 people to call with whom I haven’t spoken ever or in decades. Looking to God’s joy instead of my fear changes even these interactions – if I will only remember.
May you see joy – God’s joy – in your work today.