Lately I have been thinking about life, my blessings, and the dreams that I hold in my heart. The future keeps advancing without skipping a beat and I can hardly keep up. Summer is half gone, my youngest child has just reached adulthood, and the reality that college will come sooner than we are prepared has me in a state of wondering not only how we will fund her education but also our retirement. The golden years are fast approaching and before you know it we'll be sleeping toothless while our dentures soak in a vat of Efferdent."No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money." (Matthew 6:24, NIV)
As advertisers and social media steer my gaze toward lavish vacations and material luxuries that cost more than my first house, I realize that I will never keep up with the Joneses. Thing is -- I'm not sure I even want to. A lifetime of acquiring things, especially those I could not afford at the time, has resulted in a mountain of debt we are still paying off -- debt we should never have taken on for things that failed to satisfy our deepest longings. The trouble with having more -- at least for me -- is that it often results in more worry, not less, and greater poverty instead of more wealth. Don't you find that a bit odd?
The Bible tells us that it is more blessed to give than to receive (Acts 20:35), and I am finally embracing that truth and the belief that we can never outgive God. I am learning to loosen my grip on material blessings rather than allow them to possess me. I never cease to be amazed at how much joy and blessing I receive when I open my hands and my wallet to those in need, or to causes that matter to me.
In the past three years, since our move to Virginia, we have learned to live modestly and find contentment in a simpler lifestyle. I drive a 21-year-old station wagon with no car note but a whole lot of character. Recently, as I contemplated moving back to Tennessee with my daughter and the expense that would be involved, I decided that even if we didn't move I would still need to leave the job I love and take a better-paying job in order to pay for college, a reliable used car for my daughter, and save for retirement. But as I contemplated the trade-offs and the justification for leaving my job in ministry in order to improve our financial position, God began to show me that it really isn't up to me -- it is up to Him to provide all we need.
The temptation to leave my job in search of a better-paying corporate position -- though my motives are justifiable -- has been strong. But the conviction that my God is able to do immeasurably more than I can ask or imagine, and that He has chosen me to serve where I am in this season of my life, is even stronger. I cannot improve on God's best for me, and I honestly believe that if I were to leave in search of greener pastures I would experience disappointment, stress, and discontent, despite a bigger paycheck and a benefits package.
For the first time in many years I am content and at peace with my decision to continue serving God where He has planted me. We continue to make financial progress, and I know that eventually we will be debt-free. In the meantime our children have learned valuable lessons as a result of our costly mistakes, and have learned to save and live within their means at a much younger age than we ever did. Trust is my choice, and faithfulness to provide for us is God's promise. I have no doubt that as I continue to seek first His will and righteousness, all these things (our needs and even some wants) will be given to us as well (Matthew 6:33).
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