I heard someone pose the question recently, “Who taught you to be generous?” It’s a good question. Without much effort I can think of several people that in various ways taught me about generosity, but the one I must mention is my grandfather, Truman Fessler. I have spoken and written about him before and my admiration for him is no secret. But isn’t that the way of things, when we look up to a person there seems to be continual fascination with them and many things to be said? One of the things I can say about my grandfather is that he was generous.
Now, before I tell you how he was generous, let me add a few qualifiers. My grandfather (we called him Pappy) was a frugal man. He never wasted anything. He was shaped by the Great Depression. He owned a small farm on which he raised his family. He was a carpenter. He delivered milk for Valley Dairy. Later in life he and my grandmother moved from the farm to a smaller place on the edge of town. Even at that smaller home he had one of the largest “gardens” I have ever seen. That garden produced corn, potatoes, tomatoes, beets and snap peas for his extended family and friends. It wasn’t just the garden that produced but it seemed like he produced. Pappy could make things. And perhaps that was a part of his frugality – he knew the value in the thing made.
One of the things he made was homemade ice cream; vanilla, chocolate, and strawberry with berries from his garden. It was delicious. And he carefully parceled out that precious dessert like a priest serving the sacred bread. We still laugh at how, when we would visit some summer evenings, my grandma would ask if we would all like ice cream, an invitation that, by the look on his face, was not entirely in my grandfather’s plan for that evening.
Truman could be frugal with things, but he was generous to others with himself. I learned not to be surprised as I was riding my bike through my neighborhood and I would spot my grandfather working at some house, putting in a new set of steps for a widow, or helping another man with his kitchen remodel. I was never surprised that he attended so many of my baseball games and band concerts; how he would help my sister with her paper route in the worst kind of weather; how he served as an advisor to our local Boy Scouts, and as a trustee at our church. Truman could be counted on. He showed up and he stepped up.
Many times I fail to share myself with others. I fail to be generous. That’s my fault. But the times when I try to help others and I give of myself, it is at least in part due to the example of this fine man that I knew and loved.
In the month of May we will be doing a sermon series on Stewardship. I would like you to consider the question I have considered, Who Taught You to Be Generous?
I hope you will reflect and give thanks for that special person that God put in your life. I hope you will be in worship and join the Body of Christ in giving thanks for the great things that God has done for us.
Rich Morris, pastor