August devotion: Sustaining stewardship

Psalm 3:5

I lie down and sleep;
     I wake again, for the Lord sustains me.

Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary
1. to provide what is needed for (something or someone) to exist, continue, etc.
Related words:
Sustaining, sustenance, sustainable.

When I worked for ELCA World Hunger, we talked a lot about promoting sustainable agriculture, where farmers tend their land in ways that will yield a better harvest not only this year, but for years to come. One technique that never would have occurred to me was popular with rice farmers in Cambodia who are encouraged to keep ducks to improve the rice crop. What? Ducks?

Yes, ducks. Every morning, the farmer lets her flock of ducks out of their pen and leads them to the rice paddy, where they happily paddle in the shallow water all day. The ducks eat the bugs that would otherwise eat the rice and leave behind their droppings as fertilizer. At night, the farmer leads the ducks back to their pen for safety. The farmer has a better crop of rice, and she also has fresh eggs for her family’s table and for market. She uses what ducks do naturally to improve her crop, her land, her nutrition, her income and her future.

That’s sustainability. Wise farmers everywhere do that in one way or another. They use the gifts that God has given and that they have cultivated—their time and energy, their skills and knowledge—to tend the land God has entrusted to them so that it not only produces well now, but will continue to do so for future generations. They use God’s gracious gifts to sustain God’s gracious gifts.

God has given each of us and all of us so very much—everything we have, everything we are, everything! And our grateful response must be to sustain what God has entrusted to us so that those who come after us can share in and rejoice in God’s generosity too.

One gift that God has graciously entrusted to us is our beloved community of women created in the image of God. Our generosity now will help sustain our organization so that our daughters and granddaughters, nieces and great-nieces, young friends and younger friends will be able to rejoice in the same kinds of deeply meaningful programs, relationships and opportunities that we have enjoyed in our own time.

Our Thankofferings, regular offerings and undesignated gifts to Women of the ELCA sustain our organization. Our gifts make a difference in the lives of women we may never meet, maybe even in the lives of women not yet born. That’s the power of grateful, generous, sustaining stewardship! Thank you.

Gracious and generous God, all that we are and all that we have ultimately come from you, the source of all being. Inspire our souls with gratitude, and move us to act with generosity so that those who come after us may rejoice in the gifts you have first entrusted to us. This we ask through your Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

  To make an undesignated gift to Women of the ELCA, make out your check to Women of the ELCA and write “Where needed most” on the memo line. Mail your check to Women of the ELCA, ELCA Gift Processing Center, P.O. Box 1809, Merrifield VA 22116-8009. Or give online with a credit card at, and choose “Where needed most.” Thank you!  



Photo by Minh Hoang. Used with permission.

Past devotions:
July devotion: How does your garden grow?
June devotion: Practicing gratitude

May devotion: "Easy for her!"
April devotion: Rebuking the fever

March devotion: Prophecies and visions

February devotion: Giving thanks for Bold Women

January devotion: Treasure chest