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The Rev. Dr. Lillian Daniel The Rev. Dr. Lillian Daniel

The Rev. Dr. Lillian Daniel is senior pastor of First Congregational UCC in Dubuque, IA. She is a speaker and author of several books including "'Spiritual But Not Religious' Is Not Enough."

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Lillian Daniel: Too Busy to Give

April 27, 2014

"Each one must give as [they have] decided in [their] heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver." - 2 Corinthians 9:7 

I try to give money to street musicians whenever I can. But often I'm in a rush, so if I know I will encounter them, I stick a few dollar bills in my outer coat pocket so that I'm ready to give.  

But one day at the airport, I was in too much of a hurry to get any bills out in advance. And wouldn't you know it? That was the day I heard the most hauntingly beautiful sound in the underground tunnels, an instrument I had never heard before. I was a tiny stringed instrument, played with a bow on the lap of an older woman who closed her eyes as she sent forth her mournful melody.  

I knew that if I stopped and fumbled around in my luggage, I would be delayed. And besides, I only had large bills in my wallet. So I just walked on by, even though her playing was more beautiful than anything I had ever heard before in that airport.  

Fifteen minutes later, after a long wait in the security line, I reached in my bag for my wallet to discover that it wasn't there. I searched every pocket until I finally faced the fact that I had probably left my wallet in the car. Racing back to the parking lot at a gallop, I was sure I would miss my plane.  

Running back by the woman who played the strange and lovely instrument, I recalled feeling like I didn't have time to be generous. But if I had stopped to give her money at the beginning of my walk from the parking lot, I would have discovered much earlier that my wallet was gone, and actually saved time.  

I was breathless when I found my wallet in the car. But now I had to run all the way back, wallet in hand And there was the musician again, still playing serenely.  

This time, I tossed a large bill in her cup as I ran.  

I wasn't going to make the same mistake twice.  

I made my plane. 

Generous and giving God, you never run out of time to give us grace. I have more than enough to share with others, more than enough time and money too. Amen.

From UCC's Still Speaking Devotionals. Visit

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