Wednesday, May 5, 2010

God and Money

One thing I have learned is the journey from struggling financially to being settled is never complete. This is especially true when your income is not as stable as you'd like it. For me, a planning type A organized person, this journey looks alot like God and I standing on a seemingly unstable bridge above a huge chasm. I always start out on the opposite side of the bridge as God and He quietly and calmly asks me to walk across the bridge to meet Him. As I kick and scream and cry until my body is dehydrated, He stands firm. My begging prayers sound alot like the whiney gimme gimme's of a preschooler. "If you give us a steady income, we will use it wisely." "I have learned so much about money management but I can't put in to practice unless you help us." "My kids need to eat and we need a place to live. Don't you love us?" "How can I teach people to save money if we are struggling so much to pay our bills?"  I don't budge from my place on solid ground and God never stops asking me calmly to step out onto the bridge. This fight (it's really just me fighting with God) can last for months. The last time we went through this, it was about 6 months of tears and anger before I finally stood up, wiped my tears, and started to walk across the bridge to meet God. Within one month, our family was feeling the relief.

And my God will meet all your needs according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus. - Philippians 4:19

My mom always used to say, "If you can't be trusted with a paper clip, why would God give you a stapler?" For us, I think money management was the paper clip. It was a very small skill that we never learned and struggled to understand. We have that paper clip in our hands. But God wants His people to continue to strive to be better. There is never just one bridge and the trek is over. I relate very well to God as our Father since I am a parent. If my kids learn the lesson of sharing, I reward them but I still want them to learn to be giving, compassionate, kind, gracious, and thankful. Once they master sharing, they are not adults. They are just kids who know how to share. We are not done with our trek. We just know how to manage our money.

All the plans He's made for me, I have to wait and see. He's not finished with me yet. - Brandon Heath 

So now, I am again standing at the foot of a bridge. God wants to give me a stapler and he wants me to show Him my paper clip skills. I caught myself this morning starting to fight with God again. I spent the morning crying, writing angry notes to God, and complaining. Bridges are scary. I am so good with the paper clip and I'm not sure I'm ready to trade it in for a a stapler. I was happy with where we were. I felt good about how far we'd come. I don't particularly want to learn something new. Walking across that bridge means my hands will blister from holding on to the ledges, my feet will hurt from the long walk, my body will ache from the heat of the sun, and I will be mentally exhausted as I keep looking up to God for reassurance that He won't let me fall. I know once I cross this bridge, God will ask more of me. The next bridge will hurt just as much and I'm tired of the struggle. I'm tired of the pain.

Worrying is carrying tomorrow's load with today's strength - carrying two days at once. It is moving into tomorrow ahead of time. Worrying doesn't empty tomorrow of its sorrow, it empties today of its strength. - Corrie Ten Boom

If I say I trust God yet whine when He wants to shape me into the woman He created me to be, I am a liar. In reality, I am not happy with myself. I am not ok staying in one place. I know God has great plans for me. I will not let this fight last 6 months. I will not let it last 6 days. I will walk across that bridge and I will keep looking to God because I know He wants me to come to Him. It's ok to nag God and tell Him how much it hurts. Even Jesus asked Him to "take this cup from me" (Luke 22:42) but Jesus still died a long painful death. I am not being asked to die on a cross for the sins of the world. I am being asked to learn to make the words of my mouth be truth and really love each step of the journey. There are great rewards. Each time I cross that bridge, God holds me tight as we rejoice in my success. He never leaves me. He is always one step ahead of me because He wants me to follow Him to a much more beautiful place.

Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. 1 Peter 4: 12-13


Erin Ramsey said...

You're doing all the right things ... by trusting him and taking it all as a lesson to be learned. You are not alone ... I am here if you need me.

Tony said...

Isaiah 48:10 See, I have refined you, not as I have refined silver, rather through the furnace of affliction. Lot's of people want the refinement, but not go through the suffering. You are doing awesome! Don't confuse current position with, current direction. God promises treasures in heaven, but he also says Godliness with contentment is great gain. He'll give you what you need and more!

Heather said...

You are doing everything right, even though it feels difficult. My husband and I were expecting a baby. We lived in a horrible, crime infested neighborhood. And we were drowning in debt. So we changed things. We followed Dave Ramsey, we even went to one of his live events instead of taking a honeymoon. We ate beans and rice for a full year while we flew 40,000 miles a month (we were flight attendants together). We were never home. But in one year we smashed $35k in debt. We now live only on the cash he brings home (I quit my job last summer.) We paid for an awesome used car in cash. We bought our home with a decent down payment. We're doing construction on our house right now and it's paid for in cash. Our 20 mo. old son's college fund is accruing mad interest. IT FEELS SO GOOD! Just keep trucking, and if Financial Peace University is starting up at church any time soon, I highly encourage you to go. I get giddy about this topic so if you ever need any help with it, I'm here for you.

MomLovesDeals said...

We took FPU last year. We know what to do, the income just isn't there. That's why I get so frustrated.

Tony said...

Van, That's exactly right there are two equations at a basic level, Income and Out-Go. I know you have down what to do when it comes in, you just need it to come IN! :) Keri and I go through similar struggles. We realize that this isn't where we want to be, but it is part of the path. I don't want to drive through Pine Hills, but to get to some locations in Orlando, I just have too! You are on the right street just keep going the right direction!