Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Too Many F's!


If there be, therefore, perpetual failure in your life, it cannot arise from any weakness or impotence in the Mighty God; but from some failure on your part. That failure may probably be discovered in one of three hiding places--imperfect surrender, deficient faith; or neglected communion. But when the intention of the soul is right with God, without doubt He will save.
~F.B. Meyer

February = Flat Broke + Further in Debt.

We made it through Five months of double tithing and have just two more weeks to go. We have been blessed, so very blessed this month, but we also still have to get through the month and next month also. We have not made even one bill payment late so far. We did not go further in debt (just did not pay off debt as much as we would have liked to have done)—I should say that we had not gone further into debt until when we had to buy the mini-van, but was a necessity with the new job. We have not run out of food but we did not eat as much meat as my husband would prefer. We have been fairly warm, although I keep the temperature set between 66° to 68°F for the house and layer our clothing. We have been thrifty, we have put to use what we had as much as we could, we stretched our finances as far as we could, and we have gotten by, but we now also have no cash reserves left to speak of.

You may be thinking that I am complaining—have been complaining? (perhaps I have at times...more times than I would like to admit)—but my purpose today is to explain our situation so that you will understand how everything and anything can be use to glorify the Lord. My husband was the one who felt called to double our tithe for six months. We had talked about 15% for three months and that seemed doable, but 20% of his gross salary for half a year? I, who pride myself (yes, I am confessing) on hearing my Lord and trying to be obedient, sad to say, was the reluctant one.

My husband felt this calling during our church's 40-day fast that ended in mid-August and after talking to my Lord about it, I also came to understand that it was what He was calling us to do. Because I am the one who pays the bills and manages the budget, I knew that this commitment was beyond our means...we could do it if we used our reserves and if we kept Christmas giving down to nearly nothing, but at some point we would not have anything left. I watched our reserves deplete each month and predicted that at the end of the sixth month, this month, February, we would be broke, flat broke or just about as close to it as we have ever been since our marriage that I can remember.

You know, I have marveled at the stories of missionaries. How they rely on the Lord for everything, a place to worship, their finances, even their lives, but I have not been called to be a missionary. Some people need to have "regular" lives so they can give money to missionaries, and my husband and I feel strongly about doing that, but this lifestyle does not seem to have that awe-inspiring element of self-sacrificing. In fact, in some ways, I have envied missionaries because they have such an amazing faith and I knew in my heart that I had not stepped out of the boat onto the water as they had...I wanted to have what they had, but I had not taken the risk to get it.

So, I began to see this double tithe calling was just that: God had invited us to step out of the boat and walk on the water...and just like Peter, the further I walked out and looked at the circumstances, the more I began to sink.... If there was such a thing as a stepping-out-in-faith grade card, I would have received a big red "F." Another "F"! But I also had been given a promise! My Lord had told me that things would be easier this year (and there is one other promise that I have heard from Him for the last three years that seems so unbelievable that it must be from Him, but it remains secreted in my heart for now).

Then, out of the blue, my husband gets a job offer for a position that fit him like tailor-made suit with far better pay. The Lord pointed us to this great deal of a vehicle, just what we wanted and needed and could afford, however we have spent a bit of money on it for some minor things common with a used vehicle. Do you remember that the bank that appraised our house for half of what it used to be worth? Well, they also credited us back the $400 fee a few days ago, even though we had not asked for it, but after my husband had written an email to them with details of how they either were either incompetent or fraudulent in their dealings. How amazing is all of this?

Still, the most amazing part of all is how we have changed this last year, even before the fast we felt the Lord urging us to make some changes, and between the fast and the double tithing, we have grown spiritually even more. We sacrificed, really sacrificed, and yet we did not do without anything of real necessity. Even though I thought we lived rather thrifty already, we stripped off even more of the worldly unessentials. We turned off our TV for good and I realize not only how much time we gave to it, but also how much it influences our society as a whole and God's church, in particular.

My husband and I both changed our perspective about money but in differing ways. Christians will say it is all God's money, but do we really give Him reign over it? We did not. I felt just being thrifty and having a budget and paying a regular tithe and, once in awhile, a special offering or gift was doing my part, but really, I was only giving God reign over the 10% I gave, not the 90% I kept. We did not really ask Him what we should be doing with it. I am not sure that I have made a complete transformation in this area, but I know that my perspective has changed and I hope to continue seeking my Lord in this area of my life that I obviously have been trying to keep in my control instead of surrendering it to Him. Whenever He calls us to give more, I will have this reminder that He provides what is needed and even rewards us when we are faithful and asks us to distribute His money according to His plan. I am sure my Lord will have to remind me of this many times in the future...many times....

~ My Lord, I am a failure and I fail often. You know this, although I try to hide this even from myself. Thank you for making my failure so obvious to me and forgive me of my imperfect surrender, deficient faith and neglected communion with You, my Lord. ~

2 comments:

  1. Seeking:Amongst other difficulties this month all our bills came in ~ & with the troubles our country has been having all our utilites have increased inordinately. My expenditure exceeded my income by hundreds of dollars & even Dearest crunching numbers was not going to make any difference. Like you we already try & live thriftily because we have no choice & we are also helping support 2 adult children plus the expensive one. lol I went to the Lord & reminded him [& I'm not sure I was real polite about this; I tend not to be when I'm worried] that He tells me He's my Jehovah Jirrah, my provider, & it was time to step up to the mark because He might own the cattle on a thousand hills but I certainly did not! Um...yeah. Money owed me, which I had given up on ever seeing returned, suddenly was. Just the same we continue to talk about moving because Dearest's health situation means we will never have the sort of financial security others take for granted & we are hoping to make enough from selling this place to give us a better quality of life. Just so you know you're not the only ones. ☺

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  2. I have really struggled with trusting God on the issue of the money during the last few months and I think this struggle in my heart is not over yet, but He has shown me that stepping out onto water is not without fear and yet He will meet me at my faith level, as He always has, to lift me up; that is a comfort.

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Thank you fellow travelers for walking and talking with me along this journey.