Sunday, September 16, 2012
Today was one of those awesome days where God spoke right to me. Life is crazy for me right now. And a tad stressful. Probably the most stressful thing for me right now is the lack of control I have over my money. Last year I had more outside scholarship money and didn’t need to have an off campus job, but this year is different. And even though I am working and earning a paycheck, it seems to disappear right away; right back into the school. So instead of just trusting that God will take care of me, I worry. Even though I know that every month my school will be paid for, it still stresses me out.
The thing that annoys me most about this whole money deal is how it affects my willingness to give. Tithing has always been a priority for me, and usually I write a check every two weeks without giving it a second thought. Lately, there have been many second thoughts. Every check that I get now, I immediately subtract how much my tithe should be and cringe. I hate that. It says right in 2 Corinthians 9:7 that “Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” I can pick out three key points in the verse where I fall short…so, so short. I am reluctant to give. I feel like I have to. And I’m not doing it cheerfully. Again…I HATE THAT. Skipping a tithe or cutting it short is worse, because it tells me that I am not trusting God.
A few weeks ago Ben and I went to Central Baptist Church in Sioux Falls, where they are currently doing a sermon series on handling money. The pastor said something that really struck me. We are managers of money. It’s not ours, it’s God’s. The reason he blesses us and entrusts us with money is so that we will use it in a way that brings him glory and to advance his kingdom. How can I do that with my heart in this shape? I know I am being a horrible manager right now! Whatever amount of money God sees fit to bless me with is what I have to manage, no matter if I feel it isn’t enough. It is enough. And I want to do a better job at managing it, which means giving because I want to. It means giving because it brings me joy to see the church advance the kingdom of God. It even means giving cheerfully…gasp! Is that possible right now??
Throughout these last few months I have been relying on myself much more than I should be. I keep telling myself that if I just work more hours and only spend money on what is absolutely necessary, everything will be fine. Those are all good things to be doing, but the problem with that mindset is that I am a human. I am weak. I can’t work as many hours as I want because I have school. And life is messy, things come up unexpectedly and I never know what I might encounter on a month to month basis. My deepest prayer right now is that instead of relying on myself or turning to my parents or Ben to supply my needs, I first turn to Jesus. I know he gives me resources such as my parents and Ben to help me out, but again, they are human and to turn to them first and rely on them more than God is not what I need to be doing. I want to rely on God. I need to rely on God.
Here comes the good part. As this was all weighing on my heart yesterday, God stepped in and said, “Whoa, hold on, my child. I got this, okay? Don’t you remember how I have always taken care of you? Why are you doubting?” On the way to church this morning, the David Crowder Band song “Let Me Feel Your Shine” came on, and it almost brought tears to my eyes. It explains the state of my heart dead on, so I am sharing the lyrics with you, with a few parts taken out:
This place is trying to break my belief
But my faith is bigger than all I can see
What I need is redemption
What I need is for You for to put me back on my feet
I swear I'm trying to give everything
But I feel I'm falling, oh make me believe
What I need is resurrection
What I need is for You to put me back on my feet
If I could feel You shine Your perpetual light
Then maybe I could crawl out of this tonight
If I could feel You feel You shine
Oh let me feel You shine
So beautiful and warm
So beautiful and bright
Like a sun comin' out of a rainy sky
Oh let me feel You shine Oh,
Let me feel You shine
I lift the knife to the thing I love most
Praying You'll come so I can have both
What I need is for You to touch me
What I need is for You to be the thing that I need
This world does such a good job breaking my belief. How easy it is for me to take my eyes off of Jesus and begin seeking out other ways to supply my needs. While I will continue to do all I can to meet those needs, I want more than anything to trust that when I can’t do it, God can. And he will. He always has, and he always will.
God knew I needed more reminders of his power this morning. The Sunday school lesson today was on faith. We talked about how faith means holding Christ supremely valuable, that he is an all satisfying treasure. It means we are satisfied with all that he promises to be to us in him. It is a full assurance that God will do what he promised. Full assurance. I don’t see room for doubt in faith at all! In the end, what we hope for in a happy future is what we worship…and what we worship is what we serve. I don’t want to worship or serve money. I want to worship and serve Christ. Last but not least, faith is measured by the amount of joy we have in God. Since I’m being so honest, I’ll keep going. My joy in Christ is low right now. And that’s simply because I don’t make time to open his word and fall on my knees, to cry out to him and lay all my burdens on him. I have to keep beating myself with scriptures like Matthew 11:28-30 that says “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your soul. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Sounds a heck of a lot better than what I’ve been doing lately.
The biggest thing I have learned in the last month is that the only thing I need has already been given to me. I need a savior. I need redemption. Since I already have assurance of those things, why I am wasting my time tearing down my faith instead of drawing closer to God and strengthening it?
So thankful I have a big God who uses these kinds of situations for good. This isn’t ideal. But as a Christian I’ve made the choice to put myself completely into God’s hands, trusting that he will lead me to wherever it is I need to go. Anything I encounter along the way is tiny compared to my God anyway, so what good is fear?
Time to say goodbye to fear. Prayers appreciated.