I have never been good at managing money, which is okay because I have never really had a lot of money. I do not think there was really a time that I did not feel the frustration of poverty, but I can say that more often than not it is only a mild frustration. It would be nice to have security and be able to get the things I want, but there is also a lot of positive things about growing up below poverty level and currently living below poverty level. Small things are so huge to me, like going out to dinner, twenty dollars at a thrift store, getting to see a movie in theatres, heck even just renting a movie! One of the best things about being poor is getting to watch the Lord do miracles with such a small amount!
When my Husband and I were going through marital troubles last summer our finances felt it. Before then, I had made a budget for our income and, at the time, I was the only one bringing in the income. The budget worked great and the Lord was constantly working every day miracles providing for us whether it was rent, diapers, or food. Being a faithful tither was very important to us and usually we would give more than 10%. Things were going pretty good. Then, I don't really know what happened. All of a sudden, the budget showed that we didn't have enough money to pay bills after our tithes. It's not that I intentionally made the decision that we would not tithe, but I stopped tithing first. Normally, when we received our paychecks we would tithe on it first before we did anything else. Once summer hit we slowly fell into the routine of taking care of our needs first and then whatever left over was the tithe. Eventually, there was never anything left over.
I began listening to my budget rather than my God who tells us "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." 2 Corinthians 12:9. How had I so easily forgotten the times that we had nothing, absolutely nothing, yet everything was taken care of? It doesn't make sense! God's math does not make sense, but it is always perfect and right.
For a while, I blamed my budget for my disobedience to the Lord. It was the budget fault for showing me I couldn't tithe. But, I knew that wasn't true. I just stopped trusting the Lord. I wanted to take matters into my own hands and do it on my own. I started hearing more and more sermons on the obedience of tithing. What struck me the most was Haggai 1:6 "You have planted much, but have harvested little. You eat, but never have enough. You drink, but never have your fill. You put on clothes, but are not warm. You earn wages, only to put them in a purse with holes in it."
That was my life. Isn't it strange that without tithing we had an extra $200 dollars each month yet we had less bills covered were far more stressed.
So Friday, I was listening to Network of Praise like I always do when I am home. The sermon was the wonderful James McDonald and it was on God being sufficient enough for our needs. It hit me that I was not seeing it that way. The only thing that was keeping me going was the hope that we would be receiving our tax refund and school refunds soon and that is what was going to get us through. Well. If I know God, I know He isn't going to let anything or anyone take credit for something He is supposed to be. There always seemed to be some sort of hold up with the money. Cranky financial aid women, an incorrect tax return that needed to be ammended. It seemed like it was so close yet so far. Isn't it weird that normally I don't realize how broke I am until my son has run out of diapers and there is no money to pay for more. That seems to always be my tipping point.
So, there I am, listening to this sermon. I realize that I don't see God as sufficent. That I constantly doubt that He is all I need to be happy and be filled with everlasting joy. It's hard not to doubt when we live in a money hungry society that is sending never ended messages that happiness comes from things. I know in my heart what's right and that the way we've been handling our money is wrong. I asked for forgiveness and told God that I wanted to hand my money over to Him. To trust Him. He is sufficient.
I felt calm. That everything was going to be alright. He would provide diapers and wipes for our son. I realize too, that God wanted us to relinquish our control over our finances and give them to Him before we receieved a large amount of money.
So I start going through all the junk on our coffee table. We have this little wooden toolbox that we keep all our important papers and memorabilia like our son's wristband from birth, ultrasounds, first pair of moccasins that I made him. I started sifting through it, throwing out stuff that was no longer important. I find an envelope. It belonged to our old budget when I divided every 'account' like rent, utilities, clothes, gas, etc. into different envelopes. I thought to myself "wouldn't it be crazy if there was money in there?". I flip the envelope over and inside is $16. It was the envelope designated for kid's expenses like diapers and wipes. The date said the money was put in there in December. I have no idea how the envelope got in there or even why the money wasn't spent in the first place. I could only laugh and smile at my God who just amazes me. He literally makes my jaw drop.
He also told me that it was time to use the budget again. Not to use as a concrete and final decision, but to have order and I think also to watch how even when the budget says we don't have enough, God knows better = )