Do you want the good news or the bad news first?
Ok the bad news first: It appears that we may soon hit another downturn in our personal financial situation. With an anticipated upcoming job change our income will be reduced by 40% in the coming months. (yes, you read that correctly 40%…and no it has nothing to do with the economy) Since we already live pay check to pay check, needless to say this is a pretty big deal for our family financial situation.
The good news?: I am not stressed. I am not worried. I am not fearful. (and no, I am not lying!) While a very occasional twinge of “oh my…what are we going to do” pops up in my heart (and I know that is not God’s voice), I have a complete peace & trust in the Lord who was and is and always will be in control of my life.
I have not always had this type of peace about finances. In fact over half my adult life was spent worrying, fretting and continually stressing about money…primarily the lack of it. Instead of trusting the Lord to provide (as He always did), I was in a constant state of trying to “figure out” how our family could continue to be in the full-time ministry of Christian education and survive. (where the pay is often at or just above the federal poverty guidelines…now while I personally think this is unacceptable and a sad commentary on the value placed on those who serve our children and the Lord as Christian school teachers, mentors & administrators, the weight of that responsibility will fall onto those board members & leaders who have been entrusted these institutions and I have chosen to leave that in their hands instead of whining, complaining or walking away in frustration from the ministry God has called us to).
It actually took a major financial fallout for me to even begin to surrender this area of finances to the Lord. Thirteen years ago we lost 100% of our income and I was completely overwhelmed with stress, worry and fear. I knew in my head what God’s word said about His provision but when it came right down to it, my heart did not truly believe. It was during these very rough years (and there were several of them) that I began to really believe that God alone was my provider…no matter who wrote the check! I experienced His provision in miraculous ways. I also learned many lessons & principles:
- the difference between needs and wants (God promises to provide our needs)
- humility, perseverance & patience
- making memories & showing love is more lasting than any birthday or Christmas gift you give
- children are better served & more appreciative when they pay their own way
- don’t try to always figure it all out!
Since that time we have had years of prosperity (at least by our definition…we got to go out to a restaurant on date night instead of walking the Costco aisles & enjoying the samples!) thanks to the Lord blessing my home business venture for a season. We have also had several cycles of financial strain but each time my faith and trust grew stronger. I now no longer just say out of my mouth I trust in God to provide….I truly believe it in my heart.
In the past month since we became aware of this potential financial challenge looming ahead, we have had an unusual amount of opportunities to give money – to students going on short term missions this summer, to our pastor as a retirement gift, to JECHS for student scholarships, to a family who is in dire need of formula & diapers, to helping with adoption expenses for others. In the past during financial struggles, while we have never completely stopped giving, we did seriously limit what we gave. However this month I have just decided to “carry on” in our giving as if nothing had changed. In fact I decided to go farther than that and give something to every need I was presented. Wow! God was once again bringing me to an even new level of trusting Him (just when ya think you have arrived!)
Yesterday I had an experience that touched my heart deeply & caused me to come to an even greater understanding of how God wants me to view finances. I jumped onto facebook for a quick update on my friends and read about a young South African gal who herself has come from a life of poverty and through the generosity of others was attending a discipleship training school with YWAM and yet was in need of several thousand dollars to attend the outreach part of the program in Haiti. I purposed in my heart to give to this young lady and decided to ask the “big” girls if any of them wanted to chip in….only Kristen was home at the time and she had just minutes prior finished a baby sitting job. After hearing the need she handed me the entire amount she received for 2 hours of childcare. It touched my heart that she without any hesitation would be willing to bless someone that she did not even know. I gratefully thanked the Lord for all of our financial hardships along the way because they caused us to often be the ones in need of help or at times raise support for family missions trips and to adopt our sweet baby girl. The result of us often being in need surely has developed a heart of giving to those in need in my own children. I can’t even put a value on that benefit of our financial struggles. As the rest of the girls arrived home, not surprisingly they each choose to chip in to help this girl get to Haiti. My joy overflowed! And yet there is more….several hours later my seven year old daughter, Joy came up to me with her fists clinched full of change and said, “Mommy, I want to help too…here is everything I have.” Be still my heart! At that moment I had a revelation from God.
Joy gave all that she had because:
1. She completely trusts her Mom & Dad to provide for all her needs now & in the future (just as I need to completely trust God, my Father to provide for all my needs)
2. She knows that her family (ie: big sisters) will bless her with “extra’s” if she is wanting an icee at the swim meet or to go to the movies with the sisters (just as we all should count on one another in the church, the body of Christ to share our things , give to those in need and bless one another)
3. She did not think about what she was giving up but rather about who she was helping & giving too. She was so happy to be a “giver”. (Lord, help me to always be generous & joyful in my giving to those in need)
4. She gave it all! (and we have a hard time giving 10%, 20%, 30%…yes I was convicted)
I was reminded of this verse in Matthew 6:19
“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
Her sweet heart is full of God, her family & others…so that is where she put her treasure. Today as I send off a check, each of my daughters will have sent a portion of their treasure to further God’s kingdom in Haiti through a young poor (in riches but not in spirit) South African girl.
Where is your treasure going today?