Wanting MorePosted November 28th, 2011
by Alexis Jennings
“We’re behind on the bills again,” says my husband, Louis as he looks at the bulletin board full of unpaid obligations. “It seems like the harder I work the more behind we get.”
I’m usually the encourager, the optimist, but I can’t help but agree with him as I look at the same board, while I have the checkbook in my lap—the numbers not even close to being even. Why does this have to happen every month? More to the point, why have I dealt with this my whole life? If God blesses those who are faithful to him, then why can’t we seem to save enough money to go on vacation, buy a newer car, or even pay off the car we already have?
I Would Never Struggle
I remember growing up, listening to my mother asking the same question. “Why?” With a single income (or sometimes double if my mom worked two or more jobs) we always seemed to struggle to pay the bills, buy groceries, or even do something fun. The money was just never there. I realize now, that my mother didn’t know how to manage her money well, but even if she had, you can’t manage what isn’t there.
I always told myself that once I grew up and went to college, I would never struggle for money the way we did every month year after year. Yet here I am putting on a weak smile trying to convince my husband that everything will work out like it always has.
“God is in control, honey. We just have to trust him.” I tell him the same canned lines. But do I really trust Him?
Yes, the bills somehow always get paid no matter how impossible it seems. We are rarely late. But for some reason, in my mind it isn’t enough. I want to do more than just scrape by every month. It would be nice if we could get ahead for once, and stay ahead. When we look in the refrigerator, it sometimes reminds us of the show Survivor. Yet somehow, we never go hungry.
I should be counting my blessings, but I am still thinking about the family on Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, who was given a brand new house, furniture, appliances, a new car, and a check to eliminate the mortgage. Yes, our children are safe and well-cared for. But I see that my 2-year old needs bigger clothes, and I can’t bring myself to spend the little bit of savings we keep in case of emergency to get her some.
I’m puzzled as I try to figure out why it seems like God’s people always have to suffer. Then I remind myself that, actually, we aren’t suffering. There are starving children in Africa who would love to be in our situation, right? So why do I still wish that God would do more? Am I being selfish? What would it hurt if we made some more money?
I believe that we are living the life that God wants us to live. I am a stay-at-home mom, while my husband works. We have four children, one in college, another in high school, and two in diapers. I believe that being a mother is a great mission, but I get anxious about our finances and wish I could just go start a career. But there is something that I am forgetting. The verses begin to trickle into my mind. At first they are the ones that remind me of God’s goodness and promises.
“And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19 NKJV).
“In everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God” (Philippians 4:6 NKJV).
Then they remind me that I haven’t put my whole heart into asking for the things we need, nor consistently sought a relationship with the Lord each day. I start to realize that God wants to strengthen our hearts and our priorities. He reminds me of a story about a wealthy young man.
“Then Jesus … said unto him, One thing though lackest: go thy way, sell whatsoever thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, take up the cross, and follow me. And he was sad at that saying, and went away grieved: for he had great possessions. And Jesus …saith unto his disciples, How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of God!” (Mark 10:21-23).
What a sad realization: I’m not rich and I don’t even want to give up the few things that I do have. Instead, I just want more.
“For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?” (Matthew 16:26).
“Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.” (Philippians 4:11).
Oops. So the problem isn’t God, it’s me. I still haven’t reached the place that no matter where God takes me, I am going to trust him and be “content.” I need to stop worrying about the outcome.
“Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? … For your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things … Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself” (Matthew 6: 31, 32, 34).
When I look at the bulletin board of bills again, they don’t seem so daunting. In fact, they are like promises waiting to be fulfilled. God is trustworthy and means what he says. He will take care of us, but not always in the way we think He should. He is more interested in developing our hearts and strengthening our trust in Him, and He’ll do whatever it takes to get that accomplished. We would make it much easier on ourselves to just sit back and enjoy the journey.