I’m going to be very honest about something right now: I make roughly zero dollars. I mean, alright, that’s a lie. I make enough money to ensure that I am not sleeping on a bench at night, but that is pretty much where the train ends for me. Working at a nonprofit organization has its upsides: I love the people I work with, and the job I do everyday is one that I am completely passionate about. However, there is not a lot of…monetary benefit. If I buy something outside of my means one week, I pay for it dearly the next week. I spend a good chunk of my time worrying about finances, and praying that my car doesn’t spontaneously combust.
Money has been on my mind a lot lately. I’ve been wondering why I always have to worry about it. Wondering where it all seems to disappear to. Wondering how long my life will consist of paycheck-to-paycheck living…and I’ve come to a conclusion that I will now share. Because I can’t stop myself.
I love being independent. I love being able to do what I want, and change my plans halfway through the day, and decide where I’m going to live and how I’m going to live and who I’m going to live my life with. I love this freedom. A lot. But the thing is, God has other plans for me. I think He knows that this stubborn girl of His would probably depend on Him and talk to Him a whole lot less if I didn’t need Him to provide for me. I’m not saying that I should spend carelessly, or that I should be irresponsible with my money. I need to be a better money-saver, and I know that. And I’m also not saying that God is withholding a blessing for my life in order to force our relationship. I’m just saying that my whole life, God has provided exactly what I needed, and never anything more. I’ve always had food to eat (alright, sometimes it’s just oatmeal, but I’m okay with that), coffee to drink (yes I am counting that as a necessity, I think Jesus would have loved coffee), and more than enough clothes to wear. My house has heat, there is gas in my Civic, and there are covers on my bed. Really, what more do I need? If I had more money–if I had excess at the end of every month, I’m positive I would find a way to waste it, anyway. Honestly. I have a crush on technology and I love musical instruments, so it would be a disaster. Living on little has taught me how to plan ahead and budget, and it’s also taught me, oddly enough, the importance of generosity. It’s forced me to realize that though I might not have much, there are a lot of other people who have a lot less. Just because I don’t see them everyday doesn’t mean I’m not responsible for their well-being. I am. And you are too, by the way.
Money stress has taught me the importance of loving people the way that Jesus loved people. And, even more so, it has taught me humility: receiving the love that Jesus freely gives, and encourages His followers to give as well.
“44 All the believers were together and had everything in common. 45 They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. 46 Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, 47 praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.” – Acts 2:44-47
There is something about experiencing, firsthand, the love of people who want to serve God, who are generously willing to give to you. My sister April has four little kids, and her husband is a youth pastor, and I have no idea how they make ends meet at the end of each month. Nevertheless, at least once a week, she calls me to make sure that I have something to eat for dinner, and extends an invite for me to come over. I don’t always take her up on it, but she always tells me that no matter what, there’s always enough for one more. It’s so humbling to be loved like that– that crazy kind of love that wants to give to me even though it means sacrificing what she has. My parents are the same way, and for a 24-year-old that wants so badly to do it all on her own, that can sometimes be a tough hand to receive from.
I don’t know if I’m making any sense tonight, but this is what God has been using to beat out the pride in my heart as of late. The pride that builds up like plaque in my soul, and makes me think that I’d probably be just fine without God’s Fathering love. The pride that makes me look around and think that I can do anything better than the person next to me (I think that this is a complex that comes from being 95% Irish). Whatever this pride is, it takes a serious beat down every time I look at my bank account and realize that I am still completely reliant on the provision of God, not in some ethereal, philosophical way, but in a very concrete, oh crap I have $30 left in my bank account so please help me Jesus kind of way. And He always provides.
Last week my friend Jill brought me into her office and gave me an unbelievable gift. She gave me the CDs she didn’t listen to anymore, or had never really listened to– that crappy indie music that mostly just dorks like myself flip out over. Most of these CDs were honestly albums that I’d been wanting to purchase for years but had never had the money to spare on. I think she thought I was insane, but when someone gives you the Ben Gibbard/Andrew Kenny Home EP for FREE, it is Christmas in February. Christmas, I tell you. And last Saturday, my friend Beth gave me a gift certificate to Trader Joe’s as a housewarming gift–which means I get to eat this week. Fo’ free. And my insanely generous friend Kira made me let her buy me Subway on Sunday, and I almost cried because I was well, really tired, but also, because I was just so grateful. I know, I know, these might seem like small things to you, but they mean so much to me. And they have shown me that I TOO need to be generous with the little that I have. I feel so rich. I live in an abundance of love.
I boast in Christ. He gives me joy. He gives me peace. And He continues to fill my life with wonderful people and experiences and little tiny tastes of heaven that wet my pallet just enough to want to keep chasing after Him. Joy is purely based on the peace and grace that Jesus Christ brings when He changes your heart; when you allow Him to start loving you.
“11 I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 12 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13 I can do all this through him who gives me strength.”- Philippians 4:11-13