My Heavenly Father has been working with me on some things, some things I haven’t wanted to deal with, haven’t wanted to look at, haven’t wanted to think about. But He’s persistent, that’s for sure. I’m His, and He won’t let me push Him back out or ignore Him for too long. I hope and pray I’ve listened and listened well, that I’ve heard Him and will remember today especially as I go forward.
About six months ago I felt very strongly that God was leading me to quit my job. I had an office-type job, working from home, making pretty decent money. But the closer I drew to Him, the less I was satisfied or fulfilled by my work, and the more I felt pulled away from it. I had some savings, so after a great deal of praying, soul-searching, crying and begging for answers and direction, I bit the bullet and worked out a notice. I knew how much time I had, how far my savings would cover me, and to be quite honest I had absolutely no clue what He had in mind for after that.
I thought maybe I’d do a craft business. Nope. Maybe I’ll freelance and do administrative type work for various entities. Nope. I started writing in earnest, spending more and more time studying and delving deeper into His word, spent time with my pastors, spent some time with some heroic women who are working towards putting their lives back together. But I still had no clue what I was going to do for money once my savings ran out.
In late December through early January, I applied for jobs. Not a one of them went anywhere. I decided to apply to be a substitute teacher at a local private Christian school, just so that I could have some money coming in. The clock was ticking down on my savings, and I was getting mildly concerned. In theory I knew that God had promised to supply all my needs according to His riches in glory. And I knew that His riches in glory could never run out. I knew that His word promised me that if I sought His kingdom and His righteousness, that all the things I need would be provided for me. I made a point to say when asked that I was trusting God.
God apparently wanted me to mean what I was saying, not just say it. He’s picky that way.
In January I was asked to fill in for an open teacher assistant position in the preschool department of the school where I was listed as a substitute. I agreed, my mind solely on the fact that it would be extra money going into my bank account. Never in a million years would I have chosen that position. I didn’t know it was open, and would not have applied for it if I had known. That age group is not one that I had ever gravitated towards. It turned out that the “fill-in” part of the position was actually more of a we-need-you-every-day type deal, which I found out the day before I started. And that was fine with me, if that’s what was needed.
As God would have it, that positioned turned out to be what He had in mind for me all along as I prayed and asked His will for a job. While it wasn’t something I would have ever sought for myself, God knew just how much I would love it, how satisfying I would find it, and had it prepared for me.
What needed more seasoning, maybe a little more tenderizing, was my mindset and attitude towards money. I had spent several years being pretty comfortable financially, able to meet whatever need or whim I had. I never worried about where the bill money would come from. When I did the math, I found that my income with the new position was woefully short of my outlay each month, and that wasn’t counting the fact that I tended towards blowing money on random things just because I wanted to. God works in stages with me, because He knows me very well, and tends (at least in my experience so far) to tackle the big things before He starts getting down to the nitty gritty. So although on paper my income would not meet my financial needs (actual needs, like house payment, car payment, etc.) somehow God met the needs and I even had money left over. I truly do not know how that worked. I added up everything, all the bills I had, and had that amount on paper, and what I was able to put into the account to cover all of it left me about $600 to $800 short. Yet, at the end of the month I had at least $600 left. That happened twice. And all the bills were paid.
Then I was out of work for several weeks with my son-in-law’s illness. I had no idea how I was going to pay my bills, because I hadn’t earned but a fraction of what I needed. But God knew, and He made it happen. I understood that He meant what He said when He promised to meet my needs.
Then He started on the nitty gritty. That’s extremely uncomfortable. Because He just wouldn’t leave me alone about money. It was constantly on my mind, not just from a “where am I going to get this money from” standpoint, but I would find myself thinking about buying things, I would go in to a store with a list and come out with a van-load. I dealt with buyer’s remorse more times than I can tell you. The kicker was when He gave me a sum of money that I should have put back for next month’s bills and I blew it all. The whole chunk. The sermon the next day was pointed straight at me. My pastor may as well have had a bullhorn aimed at my ear. Because I just wasn’t getting it.
I have to tell you that I’m embarrassed by that. I don’t want to post this – but I can’t tell you what I want to tell you without telling you that. And maybe you need to know that God does work, He does convict, He nudges and when nudges don’t work, He pushes. He starts with that still small voice, but if I’m not listening He’ll get a bullhorn. He knows what it takes to get my attention. And often it’s what embarrasses me. So I’m embarrassed, but God is good and I just have to share what He’s done.
In any case, over the weeks that He has been hammering me about my spending habits, He’s also been working in my heart over the root cause(s), what’s at the bottom of it. He had some lies to uproot before He could plant His goodness. At this moment, I’m reminded of the parable of the Sower and the seed. There was some seed that fell among thorns, and the explanation Jesus gave His disciples of those thorns was the “care of this world and the deceitfulness of riches.” I sure don’t want those thorns to choke out the seeds that have been sown in my heart.
I realized, with the help of the Holy Spirit, that while I trusted God to meet my needs, I didn’t trust Him to meet my wants. I was holding on to those wants, because I felt like satisfying them made me happy. It brought a little joy into my life, a little fun. After all, He doesn’t promise to meet our wants, He promises to meet our needs. I forgot that He is a good, good Father and genuinely enjoys giving us what we want as long as it’s good for us and doesn’t spoil our supper.
What happened today highlighted that realization. It was just too specific not to be God.
I got up this morning and was spending time reading in Ezekiel. I got stopped by the first part of a particular verse and had to spend some time thinking about that verse. I journaled about it, exploring the idea of whether or not I had confidence in God. What was I placing my confidence in? I have utter confidence that He loves me. But I didn’t have confidence that He loved me enough to provide more than bread and water for me. Just the basics, that’s all He would provide.
Here’s where it gets really specific. I thought about my agenda for the morning, and what I would pack for my lunch. I usually make a sandwich and pack some chips or something else to munch on. But all I had for sandwich makings was PB&J, and I had that yesterday. I didn’t really want it again. But that was it. I had to choose to pack what I had and be grateful for it rather than whine and moan. And I chose that.
Then I got a text from my boss, who had some buffalo chicken dip and crackers, and would I like some for lunch?
I had to grin. Yes, please, and thank you. But that’s not all…
I head out the door to work, and it was rather chilly. All I could think about was that I was leaving early enough that I would have time to stop by Dunkin and get my favorite mocha latte, and boy wouldn’t that taste good?? I was coming down to a stop light and literally asked God if I could stop and get one. Immediately the picture of my bank balance came to the forefront of my mind, and I knew that I just really shouldn’t spend any of that money on something that I didn’t need. Even if it was just $5, I should deny myself and go on to work. With the work He had already done in my spirit this morning I was able to do that cheerfully (though I did cast a faintly longing look at the store as I passed it).
Work was great this morning (I just enjoy my job so much, and am blessed by God’s grace and knowledge in giving me work to do that I love). I was busy doing my job, loving on some sweet and precious kids, interacting with my coworkers, and got a text from my daughter who needed to get something out of my car. I went out to meet her…
…and she handed me a mocha latte from Dunkin!
I don’t think I’ve ever grinned as big as I did when she handed that to me out of her car window.
What a God we serve! What a loving, thoughtful, good Father we have!
I’m reminded now of Matthew 7:11: If you, then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask Him.
I know that in the day to day living of this life He’s loaned me I may not be gifted chicken and coffee every day. There may be some days I don’t get what I want and have to trust that either I truly don’t need it, I actually can live without it, or He’s got it handled and I just can’t see it yet. But I also know that my Father is good. I pray I’ve learned what He wants me to learn. I would have to be the world’s biggest dummy to miss the point after this morning.
It’s a good thing He loves us dummies.