“Bring the whole tithe into
‘Test me in this,’ says the Lord Almighty,
‘and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven
and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it.’”
Malachi 3:10 (NIV)
While walking in the Adirondack woods in 1984, I realized that my life was in trouble. I had a successful career, but I was drinking and carousing daily. I felt the urge to change. Maybe doing some community board work and increasing my church pledge would be a start. I decided to do both.
Out of the blue, the following January, I was invited to join the board of the largest of Utica’s three hospitals. At St. Luke’s, board positions were generally filled by people who were the major employers of our community. I joined that board in February. In March, my wife and children staged an intervention and told me to sober up or leave. My reaction was negative, but my friend, Hal, who had been sent away for “the thirty day dry-out,” suggested that I try an AA meeting with him.
Wow! Was I ill at ease with those people…
After a while, I committed to ninety meetings in ninety days, and I kept that commitment. At one of those meetings, the secretary of my church sat across the table from me. She pulled me aside and said, “You’ve increased your pledge and are receiving the reward that Malachi described.”
Who was Malachi? What was the reward?
I continued to raise my church pledge and managed to accomplish some interesting tasks for St. Luke’s despite inter-hospital squabbling that grew each year. In the midst of the squabbling, our board president retired, and after five years on the board, I was elected chairman.
I knew I was over my head and prayed for the Holy Spirit to speak for me. Within thirty days, the Faxton Hospital president asked me if we would merge with them. Wow! That was a dream come true. We merged the hospitals in less than sixty days and went to Albany explaining what we had done. We invited the Catholic hospital to join us, but abortion issues blocked that happening. That was in 1990, way ahead of the hospital consolidations that took place throughout the US.
Whenever I was needing to convince my own board or the merged board to consider the paths we should take, I asked the Holy Spirit to speak for me, and the words that came out of my mouth were entirely His own.
Merging the two hospitals, we saved the state and our city millions of dollars. In 2013, all three hospitals merged governance, and Utica was recognized as the only major city in NYS to do so. As a reward Governor Cuomo offered Utica $300,000,000 toward a new state-of-the-art hospital. Ground breaking will begin in 2020.
The Lord of Hosts has opened the windows of heaven and poured out His blessings on our people. I continue to tithe and receive His blessings in my life.
St. John’s is one of those blessings. John Soggs