When my husband and I got married 8 years ago, I went from an upper-middle class home in a gated community to a 300-square-foot room over a barn in the not-so-nice part of Lake Elsinore. We had an extension cord coming from the “dining room,” that we plugged each of our appliances into… plugging and unplugging the blender, the toaster, coffee maker... when we needed to use them.
I’m also convinced we lived on a pincher bug farm because I killed at least 10. Every. Single. Day.
We survived on Top Ramen and pasta. I don’t recommend that as waste-slimming diet, but that’s what we could afford. I have a distinct memory of coming home from a friend’s baby shower that was at a beautifully decorated house in Murrieta. I came home complaining and actually crying (embarrassingly) to my husband about how we didn’t have ANYTHING nice. He, at the time, was waking up at 3:30 in the morning, driving to the LAX area, working for 8 hours, and then sitting in almost 4 hours of traffic, only to get home at 9:30 p.m. EVERY single day to provide for us. But that attitude about “not having anything” was completely justified in my mind. We were, after all, using a cardboard box with a blanket over it as a side table. My sweet husband firmly corrected my ridiculous pity party and revealed the idol I was worshiping with a reminder of ALL that we did have, and that our security and contentment do NOT come from having money. Since then, the Lord has continued to work on my heart and perspective of earthly possessions. While our pantry supply and living situation have improved since those early days, by God’s blessing and providence, my heart is still constantly challenged to be thoughtful with our money, how we spend it, and where I find security.
Last year, Shawn taught through a series on “Priority.” It was just as we started that series that I was asked to share my heart on finances with a group of ladies in my current season of life (cue the sanctification lessons). Shawn shared some things that have been both convicting and greatly encouraging, the biggest of which is that everything we have belongs to the Lord.
“The earth is the Lord’s, and all it contains. The World and those who dwell in it.” Psalm 24:1
It’s all His. He owns it. He created it, after all. And beyond Him owning it all, He provides for all of our needs. James 1:17 says, “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of Lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of change.” Everything we have comes from His hand.
“And My God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus” - Philippians 4:19. This is not a promise for riches, but a declaration that He is FAITHFUL to supply our NEEDS.
Matthew 6 talks about the sparrows and how God provides for each of them, and yet how much more He provides for us. There is such comfort in that. Though a sound financial situation is a blessing, there is very fleeting comfort and false security in money. Lydia Brownback says in her book A Woman’s Wisdom, “The danger is found in the very blessing that money provides -- a sense of security.” That is a lesson that started in that little room above the barn, but one I am constantly learning.
Another way the Lord used that series on “Priority” to convict my heart was that since everything belongs to God and He provides for our needs, we are His stewards, His money managers. So I had to ask myself, what am I doing with the Lord’s resources? When my husband gets a raise at work, am I first considering increasing our monthly giving to the church? If I’m given an unexpected gift card, do I think, “How could I use this for God’s kingdom?” or “Hmm, I wonder what fun things I could find on sale at TjMaxx.” John Wesley says, “I value all things, ONLY by the price they shall gain in eternity.” Hmm, is that convicting or what? That doesn’t mean that we can’t buy or own nice things. But it IS a good heart check to see if my first priority is the Lord’s work and magnifying Him. It’s all His anyway.
So my prayer for you and I is that we would be good stewards of His manifold blessings and heed Proverbs 30:8-9
“Remove far from me falsehood and lying;
give me neither poverty nor riches;
feed me with the food that is NEEDFUL for me;
lest I be full and deny you and say, “Who is the Lord?”
or lest I be poor and steal and profane the name of my God.”