Estimated reading time: 6 minute(s)
I’ve mentioned here many times how God has arranged things for us to be able to pay our bills, feed our kids, and keep our house. It’s really astounding at times. I’m pretty sure that “on paper” … it just shouldn’t work. But it does. It always does.
I forgot to, or didn’t get to, or perhaps just chose not to … however it happened, I did not communicate last month that we had reached a milestone of sorts. On July 4th, 2009, we celebrated our independence.
No, I’m not talking about our country’s independence on Independence Day. And really, in a way, it would be more appropriately labeled Dependence Day.
Let me explain.
For many years we have lived a life of trusting God. Our “career” paths have always been determined by where we felt God was leading, not by any predetermined path or plan. Often that meant less money, or seemingly no money… but we knew that God was our Provider, and trusted him to do so.
Last year, we were really having trouble keeping up with the increasing cost of life, our regular bills, and probably especially our mounting debt. It was really crazy. We finally reached a point where we really, really needed to do something or we’d start losing the stuff that we had – which seemed bad, but, honestly, if that was where we went, we were OK with that too.
We spoke with a friend who is a financial advisor. We spoke with our family and close friends. We asked God what he wanted us to do about this debt that he seemed to never help us pay off with some giant windfall of cash. The answers we got were basically: you need more income, and…
“You need to trust me.” (That was God…)
So, if you know me (us) … well, you know that sounded a little funny. “TRUST YOU?? Um… what do you think we’ve been doing??!?!?!” 🙂 BUT, you see, we discovered (by God’s gentle revealing voice) that we were indeed not trusting him. At least, not like we really could be.
See, in the past (over the past several/many years) when we felt like God was giving us something to do (a CD, a tour, or whatever project it may have been) we would pursue it with gusto, and “know” that he would provide. That’s all well and good – he owns the cattle on a thousand hills, etc – but… the problem was, whenever stuff got tight … we’d really turn to our credit limits. (Which were gargantuan.)
Over time, when we would fund one project here, another there, this trip here, that trip there… even paying bills and buying groceries with “money” that we were confident “God would provide” (really, we were) well, the debt added up. And up. We kept paying for (taking?) things that God had not yet given us. (Even if he had “given” us the leading to do it, which I still believe he did.) If you have every toyed with credit card debt you know that “living beyond your means” for more than 5 years (let’s say closer to ten?) … well, that’s really icky.
So last year God helped us see, helped us realize that while we were completely trusting him by following his lead… we were NOT trusting him by waiting for him to provide. And is has stung us. Badly.
When he helped us see that we decided that the best (the only?) course of action we could take was to completely cease all additions to the pile of debt before us. We would lose our stuff before we would pay anything with “credit” again. (At least, until God clearly leads us otherwise.) We decided we would only spend what we had. If that meant missing a bill payment by a couple days, that’s what we’d have to do. If it meant not getting food or gas or something else we might have previously “financed” with credit… so be it.
(What if our government would come to this realization???)
And folks, for 13 months now… it has totally and completely worked!!! And it has been simply astonishing to watch God provide.
He has provided jobs. I got to work the ideal job for me at the Apple store for a time. When that time ended, I was able to work another ideal job leading music for a local church. All along he continues to bring in a steady stream of web business. (All without any advertising or looking for clients of any sort. Crazy.)
He has even met deadlines. Time and time again when we wait for him – even when it is really hard, and even seems foolish – he provides right on time with the exact amount that we need. (Now, so far it hasn’t been exact like, to the cent. I have heard stories like that, but that’s not what we’ve seen. But it usually is to the dollar. Perhaps he knows that I like stuff a bit more loose and general?) 😉
I can’t say enough how simply incredible, astounding, amazing, mind-blowing it has been. And I think the best part is, it has been life-altering. Whether it happened that day in early July of 2008 or was more of a process… we just think differently. We don’t even consider using credit now* … we’re actually happy to wait for God to provide, no matter how big or small the want or need. (Even as I type this, it’s still surprising!)
The most recent example of this has been how God arranged everything for me to take a break to take care of the kids while Jen recovers from the birth of Cameron last week. My want is to completely shut down my business(es) for a week, or hopefully two, so that I can manage the house while Jen recuperates following delivery. In our precarious financial state I wasn’t sure how that would work. I know a lot of people live “paycheck to paycheck” and well, we’re one of them. We really do. So, when I don’t work, I don’t get paid. Was curious to see how God would work that out.
He has! Even so much that I can see how he has, so that I can have peace about taking this two weeks off. First the commitment to leading music came to an end on July 26th (the Sunday before our son was born!). Second, there were a few bigger jobs that I did leading up to Cameron’s birth that were recently paid (and will be paid) this week, creating a slight surplus of funds for paying bills and feeding mouths. Third, God has brought in 4-6 new jobs that are all ready to go, but can all also wait till mid-August when I plan to return!
I shouldn’t say I can’t believe it, because certainly I can. But in a way… I still can’t! Somehow the way he takes care of us still surprises me. If the circumstances worked out differently… if somehow we didn’t pay our bills, or were lacking some other thing… he’d still be a great Provider, and I’m certain we’d see that. We’d see his provision even if it was different than we thought it would be. But at the moment, it’s been very clear and easy to see how God is arranging stuff to provide for our family and we’re loving living a life of truly trusting him by being completely content with what he has given us. (Not what he will give, but what he actually has given.)
I’m sure there are many ways to live that out, but I can’t recommend enough learning to listen for, wait for, and follow our Father. It’s exciting, scary, yet peaceful and perfect. Fantastic.
I just needed to say all of that … kind of for my remembering down the road… and hopefully to encourage you along the way too. Hope you’re enjoying your journey, too!
* I don’t believe that credit or credit cards are “bad” … but for us they would currently be trusting ourselves more than trusting (or being content in) God’s provision. They can certainly be used “wisely” but more often than not, they become a trap. Still, I am in no way condemning the idea of credit.