Thursday, March 5, 2015

What icy roads teach us about fundraising

I commute by bicycle even during the winter months, and while I don't mind the cold, ice is another story.

This morning I was on my way to an early meeting downtown, and I was being especially cautious since the roads and bike paths were in bad shape after a recent ice storm.  I kept a close eye on the road in front of me and made slow, gentle turns.  I was doing great for 3/4 of the trip, but just when I was reaching the end of a semi-maintained bike path, I hit some black ice and went down.  Thankfully I wasn't significantly hurt, so I got up, walked the bike the rest of the path, and was fine for the rest of the ride.

After the meeting I bundled up and began heading back.  I remembered well where that patch of black ice was, so I carefully dismounted beforehand and decided to walk the bike until I was back on stable ground.

That's when I noticed something that astounded me.

As I walked the bike over that patch of black ice, I discovered that it wasn't a "patch" at all.  For probably about 50 yards, the bike path was nothing BUT black ice!  In fact, it was so slippery that I could barely walk the bike, let alone ride it!  Yet... somehow, just a little earlier, I had ridden for 49.5 of those 50 yards without slipping a bit!

I think our fundraising is like that.  Usually when things are going well, we attribute it to something we're doing.  It's our charisma!  Or our diligence!  It may be our zeal or speaking ability or incredibly well-thought-through presentation book!  The reason others have failed where we're succeeding is because they just haven't work as hard at these things as we have!  Self-high-five!

But then, inevitably, it stops working.  Our charisma fails to charm.  Our diligence is replaced by binging on Netflix.  Our zeal fades, our words come out wrong and our presentation book confuses people.  What then?  Do we give up?  Do we try harder?

David helps us in the opening lines of this song:
I waited patiently for the LORD;
    He inclined to me and heard my cry.
He drew me up from the pit of destruction,
    out of the miry bog,
and set my feet upon a rock,
    making my steps secure.
He put a new song in my mouth,
    a song of praise to our God.
Many will see and fear,
    and put their trust in the LORD.   (Psalm 40:1-3, ESV)
David was in "the pit of destruction" and his steps felt "insecure".  (Ever felt that way in fundraising?)  How did he respond?  Did he give up?  Did he try harder?  No.  What he chose to do was cry to the LORD and then "waited patiently" until God responded.  In response, God delivered him and made his steps secure.  Furthermore, He gave David a song by which to remember who helped him.  This song in turn causes others to follow David's example.  Others like you and me.

This is helpful in considering both fundraising and riding on black ice!  We're far from "stepping securely".  In fact, as I learned this morning, we may be in a much more precarious position than we even realize.  Our attitude, therefore, should be one of profound thankfulness to God.  Not only does He draw us out of pits when we cry out to Him, but He drew us out of the ultimate pit of hell when not one of us was crying to Him.  He sent Jesus Christ to come while we were yet sinners, He set our feet firmly upon the Rock, and He tells us to go make disciples of all nations that they might put their trust in Him.

When I fell on the last few feet of the path, it was easy to think that God was being cruel.  Rather, He was being exceedingly gracious for an exceedingly long period of time.  And when He did finally permit me to fall, it was not for my destruction but rather for my humility.  He lifted my eyes off of myself and my abilities and had me instead sing a song of His grace to others - so that you too might see, fear, and put your trust in the LORD.
As for me, I am poor and needy,
    but the Lord takes thought for me.
You are my help and my deliverer;
    do not delay, O my God!   (Psalm 40:17, ESV)