Monday, September 21, 2009

Lesson learned.

Do you wonder what it will take for someone to change the way they live their life? Do you think you've seen rock bottom and then the take another spill? I'm really good at pointing this out about other people. When it comes to myself, not so much. I've been learning quite a bit from that friend of mine, the Holy Spirit lately. I've been convicted that I'm not living my life that way God intended me to live it. I haven't given every part of my life to him and I've squandered some of it. What could it be? It's finances my friends. My personal and visceral feelings are to keep this topic off the table. What could possibly be more embarrassing than admitting your problem with money? It's not embarrassing, it's eye opening and it's a problem so many of us struggle with.

Last week Cameron and I were faced with some hardcore truths about the way we were living our life as a family.  We had to get our heads on straight about money and fast. We went to see a financial counselor at our church to help get things figured out. Thank God we did. Seeing our stupid spending and lack of giving in black and white on paper was like getting stuck in the time out chair as a kid. It gave us time to think about what we had done wrong and how we were going to fix it. We were now in a rough spot that required us to not have any money for the next two weeks (until Cam gets paid again). It didn't have to do with the meeting, we would have been in that situation regardless. We had let our bills pile up. But we needed to tithe, too. We did the right thing and we tithed anyway and waited to see what God would do. It kept me awake all Friday night. I was panicked and unsure of how we were going to function. I had this verse floating in my head: "My power is perfected in weakness..." I finally prayed and had a peace about it all day Saturday and Sunday. We've been here before I told myself, but now we're on the right track and it's always darkest before the dawn.

This morning I was going about my business and Cam got an e-mail from our insurance saying they owed us a good chunk of money that they didn't pay us last year through our flex plan! That was a huge blessing! We'd be able to get by! It felt like instant relief even more than the peace I already had. Then Cameron called me and let me know that he got a HUGE web design job!!! What?!?! It will help us get ahead on paying off our debts and saving up for the right things. It's also a high profile design job and may just bring in other customers to my talented hubby.

I am not saying there is a formula to getting what you need from God. I do not believe that at all. What I do believe is that God is willing to take care of us, but he can't do that until we yield completely to him in every part of our lives. When we gave our offering, it made room for God to show his power in our weakness. God isn't going to butt into our business unless we give him ample space.

Our church is going through our Fall Campaign and it's based on the steps of Celebrate Recovery. Our lives are filled with "hurts, habits and hang-ups" and we aren't going to be whole people until we give those things to God. I think that so many Christians feel like we don't have problems unless they are "big": drugs, alcohol, sex addiction, etc. We fail to see our little blunders as being hurdles to a better life. We don't realize that our over eating, debt or  self-pity are keeping us from being more like Christ. In our case, our debt and sloppiness with money was keeping us from always tithing and being faithful and good stewards with our money. You know what that said about us?  Eating out and material possessions were more important than God. As bad as that stung, it was also a wake up call. I have to give my money to God before anyone else because that's where it's really going to matter and make a difference.

I'm ready to simplify my life down to bare essentials. I'm throwing stuff out, I'm selling it on eBay, I'm donating it. I'm ready to live the way God wants me to live, unencumbered by THINGS. I need to be generous and helpful in all ways. Jesus has been good to me and now I need to show my gratitude for that. I'm ready to shed my sense of entitlement and make a move towards a different type of servanthood. I want to be a good steward who always plans for the future of her kids. I'm ready to be a better wife by having more home cooked meals. A return to simplicity.

Last week, I went to Julian with my wonderful friend Gina. Gina and her husband Ryan run a farm there called Julian Mining Company. They do apple pressing, pumpkin picking, raspberry picking, sluicing, etc. They also do educational programs for school kids.  Gina and I were both stressed out at the beginning of the day and we both had money problems we were dealing with. I tried to keep my kids corralled while she took care of a few errands and chores. At the end of the day before we came back, we went out to their raspberry patch, we picked raspberries for about a half hour. Standing there in that patch I said "This is how God intended us to eat." I felt such a connection to enjoying those sweet, purple berries. They were fresh and I had done the work of picking them. I had a cupful to take home, and I had enjoyed a few right then. It was the best picture of living simply I can think of. Every stress that I had that day melted away while I picked those berries. I didn't mind if I ran into a few thorns, it was worth it.  Sounds like a good metaphor for our lives, right?
God owns it all and (you) are stewards of His resources...Because you are stewards of the resources God has entrusted to you, every financial decision you make is actually a spiritual decision.  For many, that's a revolutionary concept.  How you manage your finances is a pretty good barometer for the condition of your spiritual life.

Dennis Rainey

1 comment:

Nichole said...

Yay! Such a good blog. I wish more people would realized this..especially that quote by D. Rainey. We have been through many tight times (are in another now) where the bills just pile up and we don't see the light at the end of the tunnel. But each time, God has made a way! I know He'll do it again, too. He takes care of His children, even if it's not the way we'd expect.