Can He be trusted? Does God really show up and provide? Is He a sugar daddy?
As the bottom drops out of the economy, we’re beginning to hear first hand stories of hardship…shrinking businesses, bankrupt businesses, lost jobs, cut hours, tanked investments, foreclosures, etc. Although some would debate about the validity of the trickle down of wealth theory, no one is debating the trickle down of the lost earnings phenomenon we’re witnessing. Yes, there are a few who’ll benefit from this, but most will lose some and many, many will lose a lot and some will lose everything.
I know the bill passed congress yesterday, so bailout is underway…we’ve yet to see what the ramifications really are of this legislation. Meanwhile quite a bit of damage has already been done, at least within earshot of our household.
As Christians, what is our response? The first thing that comes to me is to check our hearts, our motives, our focus. Are we sold out for God? Are we actively seeking His will for our life? Is He the reason we do what we do?
About a year and a half ago, Rich (my husband) and I hit the wall. Our finances were a disaster, we were in over our head, credit was running out and as we looked ahead, we saw no way out. What did we do? We sat down before God and surrendered the mess into His hands. We asked for forgiveness, and told Him we’d orient ourselves to His will in this if He would just show the way. We were ready to give up whatever and ready to live with some pretty nasty consequences…we deserved as much, after all. In a counterintuitive move, we discerned Him calling me to quit my part-time job. Yeah, decrease income…things only got worse, freight train acomin’. Then, about a year ago, Rich had the great fortune of being laid off. I say “great fortune”, not with tongue in cheek here, as he received a six months of full pay severance package. The timing was perfect, utterly perfect for soon thereafter he had a better paying job–a position he really wanted at a smaller company. For six months we had two large checks per pay period in the bank. With a spending spreadsheet in hand, watching every nickel, we were able to pay down significant amounts of debt in those months. In addition, at the end of those six months he received a pay raise and promotion, which allows us to just break even today.
Another thing we discerned God telling us was to give more to charity, to His work. We’d had a tithing account for years so the act of giving was not new. But giving more when things were so tight was again, counterintuitive. In these hard times for non-profits it is exhilarating to write checks, we love being used by God to bless others…
How else has He shown up? Here is a recent sampling…This summer Charlie (our college freshman son) had college tuition looming. God made it clear to Charlie that Boston U. was where He wanted him to go, so we surrendered the tuition bill to Him…nothing in our bank account could afford to touch that balance…we were helpless in the face of it. Charlie got quite a bit of aid and scholarship $$, thousands more popped up even at the last minute. We did, though, have to take out a school loan…a loan I’m not sure we would have qualified for before paying off all the debt we did. A couple of weeks ago he informed us that there is about a $3000 surplus in his college account (BU informed him of as much). Where did this come from? We honestly have no clue…Did some kind, anonymous donor make a deposit? Did BU, after the final aid package, bequeath Charlie more scholarship $$? Again, we don’t know…we will put it toward next semester’s balance, praising God all the way! Another divine provision, as of last week, was that Rich got a letter from his old employer saying that a paycheck from 2006 was never, according to their records, deposited. Sure enough, our records concur and now we’ve got a check in the mail that will pay our property taxes this month…taxes we simply don’t have the $$ to budget for.
We’re still in the thick of things, and dollar budgeting is tricky, but we’re staying faithful and are committed to spending according to our means, expecting Him to show up and lead the way. He’s teaching us new things and softening our hearts as we move through these days. We could be next in line at the soup kitchen or the unemployment line…but then He would be with us there as well, pointing a way forward.
So, is God a sugar daddy? Ummm…no, I wouldn’t say that, He’s not out to give us everything we want or think we need. I can say, though, that He can be trusted to provide what is needed, if we surrender, if we give it up, if we lay it all down at His feet, and reorient our life to Him and His will.
“Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness and all these things will be given to you as well.” Jesus in Matthew 6:33