Thursday, February 4, 2016

God's Law of Returns

When I first read that verse in Ecclesiastes 11:1, I was puzzled. Since I don't even like gravy on bread, that word picture of soggy bread didn't appeal to me.

Then I came across this translation in the New Living Translation: "Send your grain across the seas, and in time, profits will flow back to you." In other words, "Give generously, for your gifts will return to you later."

Now, that makes sense. Here's how it worked out in the lives of two people whose names you will recognize:

The son of a gardener on an estate in Scotland dreamed of becoming a medical doctor. Neither he nor his dad could figure out how such a huge financial undertaking could be met.

Weekend visitors arrived at the castle. One of them, a boy, went swimming in the pool. He developed cramps and was about to drown when the gardener's son leaped into the water and saved him. The father of the swimmer was so overjoyed at the rescue that he offered to reward the rescuer.

"What can I do to help the lad?" he asked the rescuer's father.

The gardener related their dream that the son become a physician. "If you could help him to go to school, that would mean more to my son than anything else in the world."

Upon hearing the request, the swimmer's father said, "That's it! We will see him through his education." And through this generosity, Alexander Fleming became a doctor of medicine.

Years later, the boy who nearly drowned, Winston Churchill, became Prime Minister of England. While on a trip to Egypt, he was stricken with virulent pneumonia. Aides thought he was going to die.

A new drug, however, had just been discovered by Dr. Alexander Fleming--penicillin. Dr. Fleming heard of Mr. Churchill's illness. He flew to Egypt to administer the new medication. The results were miraculous, and Churchill recovered completely.

c AnnaLee Conti 2002

In 1948, my grandparents, Charles and Florence Personeus, pioneer missionaries to Alaska, were asked to build a church in Pelican. The town donated land, but it needed to be cleared. Windfalls twelve trees deep covered the site, and my grandparents had no tools. An old logger they had befriends thirty years earlier supplied them with hand tools for the mammoth task.*

When we planted a new church in Gloversville, New York, in the late seventies, we spent much time over a two-year period ministering to a young couple that was separated when we met. God saved their marriage (see God Saved Our Marriage), and they became faithful workers in the church--until a job-transfer moved them out of state. We knew God was building lives, not just churches, but their move was a great loss to our new church.

That summer, our Fellowship's biennial General Council was being held in St. Louis, Missouri, in August. We really felt the need of going to receive personal encouragement and fellowship, but as pioneer pastors, we had no funds available for such a trip.

Then a letter arrived from the couple that had recently moved away, thanking us for all we had done to help them reestablish their marriage. They enclosed a check and a note telling us to use the money for something special for ourselves. It was the exact amount we needed to go to General Council.

We have learned that we can never outgive God. It may not come back in kind, but God has promised, "Give, and it will be given to you; good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom," (Luke 6:38, NKJV).

I'd love to hear about a time when God has proven that promise in your life.

*Excerpt from my book, Frontiers of Faith.


  1. What amazing testimonies of how God helps us in time of need. Blessings on your ministry to readers, AnnaLee.

  2. It's always good to hear from you, Deb. You are an encourager! Thanks.