Lately, my wife and I have had our faith tested in a significant and seemingly endless way. It’s in the area of finances. I’m sure many of you can relate. Over the past three to four years, our income has decreased by 75%. That does not mean we were wealthy at one point and our income has just leveled out. It means that, on paper, we do not have enough to cover our needs. I wrote, “on paper,” because God has provided and we are not missing meals.
At this point in this post that I need to confess something. There have been months where our take-home pay is less than $200 (after taxes, insurance, etc.). During these months, I stopped giving offerings to my church and the other various charitable contributions we make. I felt terrible for doing this, but had to choose between giving it away, or buying groceries. A few weeks ago, I thought about what kind of lesson I was teaching my family by doing this. Was I teaching that God could only take care of us in some areas, but when it comes down to the real stuff, like finances, well, God can’t really do anything about that.
The last few weeks, my wife and I have deliberately done something stupid. Even though we would not have money to cover our bills, or even buy groceries, we decided to demonstrate our faith in God. We have chosen to worship him with our finances. I know what you are thinking, “Big deal, Rodney! I’ve been doing that for years. That’s what everyone should do.” Yes, I know and I’ve done it for years too, but it was much easier to do when we had money in the bank and a set paycheck we knew we would receive in two weeks.
As we prayed and talked with each other, we committed to demonstrate to God that we thought He was able to take care of us, so we gave just over 10% of the gross income we had. Honestly, we were very scared, but I think that was the point. How could we show God and each other that we trusted Him, if there was not really an element of uncertainty about the outcome? The very next day, a friend for whom I do some part-time work called and asked if he could give us a bonus of $1000. He asked, because he did not want to offend me. Um, yes you can give that, and no I would not be offended! This was an immediate answer to our prayer and demonstration of faith! This is just one thing that has happened, since we started doing this. There are a number of “Wow, that was God” moments we could share.
MY “LACK OF INSIGHT”
Today, I received a little larger paycheck from my main employment than I have received lately and started thinking about all of the bills I could pay! Then I realized that I made a commitment recently to God and my family to honor Him with my finances as an act of worship. “Hmm…okay.” I said under my breath as I tried to dismiss that thought. After I prayed, I began reading Mark 6 as part of my routine. In that chapter, Mark records Jesus’ feeding of the 5,000 with five loaves and two fishes (Mark 6:33-44). After doing this, Jesus sent his disciples ahead by boat, so He could dismiss the crowds. Then, Jesus walked on the water to His disciples, in the middle of a raging sea (Mark 6:45-50). When He joined them in the boat and calmed the sea, they were “utterly astonished,” (Mark 6:51). To me, their utter astonishment is utterly astonishing! Why would they be astonished that Jesus, Who just performed an amazing miracle of feeding 5,000, would do another miracle of calming the seas?!?!?! Oh, verse 52 explains it,
“for they had not gained any insight from the incident of the loaves, but their heart was hardened.”
Bam! Right in the kisser! Here I am, rejoicing with my wife a few days ago about our mutual gratitude and amazement of God’s provision in our lives, but now I am so soon considering how I can downplay our commitment to demonstrate that we trust God with even our finances. Have I not gained any insight from the incident of the money? Has my heart been hardened against trusting God so soon? Shame on me. Has God changed at all during this week? Has He changed at all, ever? My circumstances change every day, but circumstances should not affect my willing, deliberate, public and private worship to demonstrate to everyone that God is worthy of our trust. This is our testimony. God is worthy of our trust. For myself, I just need to be reminded not to forget to have faith.
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