People around the world are experiencing financial crunch right now. I think it is sometimes a good thing to be reminded of that when we get overwhelmed about where the money’s coming from for this or that, or whether your family could make it two months if you or your spouse lost your job. What Mark and I have been challenged about for quite some time is something I think a lot of us might struggle with, so I thought I’d chat about it, and tell you I’d love to hear your thoughts too.
Mark and I were both convinced that living in debt was not God’s way before we got married. There are certain things we see as reasonable reasons to go into debt (a home or a car, basically, but we’d prefer not to even go into debt for a car) and there are a lot of things that honestly, I think most people could learn to do without, but would rather go into debt for, than do without. As we’re building our marriage, we’ve recognised that the challenge to follow those principles meets us at regular intervals. (We have sometimes failed, and we are in debt at the moment, mainly for a car, but also because we’ve used the credit card crutch, too.)
When Mark finished his work in financial services and we went back to North Carolina to raise support to work for a church plant in Scotland, we knew we weren’t signing up to be rolling in the big bucks. When our visa situation meant we had to leave the US before we’d finished raising a full partnership team, we knew we’d really signed up for a life of faith, and the journey began. We’ve continually had to trust the Lord for the finances for things like making it home for my sister’s wedding, or just making ends meet at the end of the month. But the struggle has been that the credit card is always sitting on the back burner… available for emergencies… but more than willing to also offer its shiny little self for non-emergencies.
We are in another one of those faith-situations at the moment. We decided not to go to North Carolina this Christmas because the finances weren’t there and we weren’t going to play chess with the space on our credit cards to make it possible. We hoped this would mean we’d perhaps be able to go back in April, because two of our dear friends are getting married, and my sister is having a baby. We would love to be able to visit family, meet the new baby, watch the Bear be the “Ringbear” in our friends’ wedding, and perhaps have the opportunity to visit some ministry partners and attempt to find some more. (We still don’t have a 100% partnership team).
Here’s where I’m going to really open up the honesty box. I would’ve been willing to put a North Carolina Christmas on the credit card if Mark said it was okay. When I realised that, I really had to repent. (I may have shared this with you already.) I had to submit to the Lord and decide that I wanted His will more than I wanted to see my family. And it was hard to get to a place where I could say that and mean it. As the time for making a decision about the next opportunity to go home approached, I discovered the same thing was in my heart again. If Mark would’ve said it was okay to credit card the adventure home, I would’ve said “Yeah, baby!” and not have blinked twice. But when we do things in our own strength, where do we give God the opportunity to supply all our needs according to His riches and glory? (And to decide which things are the things He wants to provide for.)
As we sat across the room from each other and talked about this a few weeks ago (not because we were arguing, but because we were in single beds at Mark’s parents’ house and they are across the room from each other…very Lucy & Desi) Mark commented that the credit card was kind of like our Hagar. And it’s so true. When God promised to provide Abraham with a son, it was clear that it would be a thing of God, and not something Abraham needed to do in his own strength. But his attempt at making it happen in his own strength, at Sarah’s suggestion, was how Ishmael came about, by Hagar and not by Sarah.*
There are so many moments in our own lives where we have the opportunity to trust God, or to fall back on our own crutches and attempt to make things happen in our own strength. If God wills for us to be here for this or there for that, I believe we can trust Him to make a way for us, as long as we are obedient and listening to His guidance and direction. So as we had that chat a few weeks ago, we decided not to settle for trying to make things happen with Hagar, in our own strength, but to trust for the promises of God to be fulfilled. In Abrahamâ€™s case, through his wife Sarah, and in ours, by not falling back on the credit card crutch, but pressing forward to trust that living Godâ€™s way is better, even if itâ€™s harder.
I donâ€™t know exactly how all this is going to come together. But I thought Iâ€™d share a bit of what the â€œlife of faithâ€ looks like in my neck of the woods these days. God is a good and most definitely a trustworthy God. (Have you seen my new dishwasher? 🙂 ) And I look forward to sharing with you how all these things come together, for His goodness and glory.
*See Genesis 15 – 21 if you’d like to read the whole story.