A couple of Sundays ago I was given $5 from my church. That's right, my church gave me money. In fact, everyone in church that morning was given some cash - anywhere from $5 to $100. My church just has wads of cash and it doesn't know what to do with it! Kidding!
Your church may have done this in the past, too. The idea was that we were to use this money with "maximum impact" for someone else. It was also a reminder that EVERYTHING we have (money, home, things, jobs, kids, etc.) belongs to God - we are just stewards of these things.
So what can you really do with $5 that can make an impact on someone else? I got great suggestions - buying water for the homeless, getting a cup of coffee for a stranger at Starbucks, buying lunch for the person behind me in the drive-thru (lots of food-related stuff).
I held that bill in my wallet, because I kept waiting for this amazing moment where I would rescue some stranger with my 5 bucks! I pictured myself at a gas station and overhearing some person saying, "I only need 1 1/4 worth of gas to get my grandma to the hospital, but I have no money?!" And then I run to them (in slow motion) with my $5 and save the day. There is crying and hugging and the ensuing Lifetime movie based on this experience.
Everything I thought of or that was suggested involved a stranger. Not a bad thing, mind you. But as sat and prayed about it, my Dad came to mind. I'm not super close to my dad. There is no animosity - we are just very different people. We don't hang out or talk much outside of family get-togethers. My dad doesn't need $5. In fact, my dad has helped me a zillion times with money throughout my entire life. Always helpful; always generous. The last few years his health has declined and he's struggled with trying to sell his business. My dad has worked so hard and long for many years, but now at this stage of his life the business was just weighing him down.
About a week ago we found out he had a buyer for his business. My dad would soon be able to retire. I could give him the 5 bucks - he wasn't going to be working after all. Nah, I thought I would do something that I don't recall ever doing and out of character for our relationship. I would send him a card that costs me $5.
In that card I was able to tell my dad "congratulations." I was able to tell him "great job on a lifetime of hard work" and how that hard work was so appreciated. And how it allowed him to have to such an impact on my life and my family. There was a bit more to the card, but I'll keep that between the two of us.
I wanted to talk myself out of buying that card. Giving that money to a complete stranger would have been so much easier. Kind of like it's easier to go oversees to do mission work (which is awesome, by the way), than it is to talk to your neighbor...or to reach out to your own dad. There's more of a risk relationally and emotionally when its someone you know and love. And yet when it comes to using that money for maximum impact, I couldn't think of anyone better than a person who made such a maximum impact on my life.