Monday, January 16, 2012

Foxes in the Vineyard - Money

Martin Luther once said, "There are three conversions necessary: the conversion of the heart, mind, and the purse."

Does Martin Luther speak accurately or is he being too extreme? Does money have such an unflinching stronghold on our lives?

If you had asked me this 6 months ago, I would have said, "No, absolutely not. I rarely spend money on myself and I love to give."

But, did I?

To answer that, I have to go a bit farther back in my history. Ever since I can remember, I've looked forward to the day I could drive. It seems to be just a part of the American Dream to get your license at 16. Because of that mindset, I was always counting down the years until my 16th birthday would roll around.

Well, my 16th birthday finally came.....and went...with no license. In fact, I was shocked to discover that the idea of getting my license didn't even seem to be in my near future, according to my parents. Insurance was too expensive. "And besides," they added, "why do you need your license right now?"

Why?! Oh, the injustice of it all! :)

During my 16th year, I started to get desperate. Looking around, I realized that most of my firstborn friends already had their license and some were even younger than me. Suddenly, my entire focus became a mad hunt to discover a stay-at-home job. Getting my license took first priority in my life. But of course, I would never admit to that. I would mope through the house, brainstorming any and every idea I could think of to make money quickly. My mom would often ask if I had committed this desire to the Lord. Of course I had! I had asked (maybe demanded is a better word) for the Lord to show me a job so that I could get my license. Surely He would answer that prayer, right?!

Wrong. Time continued to ebb away, and then I was 17....still with no license. Now, all of my firstborn friends had their license and I was the loner still-have-my-permit girl. I had some savings built up, but not enough for insurance. Around the beginning of last December, I knew that the Lord was asking me to give some money to Gospel for Asia. My fists clenched in protest. "Lord, how could You ask something like that of me?! I'm saving up for my license, remember? If I give money away, I'll have to work all the harder to get it back again."

But the Lord continued to press this upon my heart. Finally, on December 10, the Lord opened my eyes to my complete selfishness and disobedience. My journal entry with that date shares my thoughts:

"O my Father, I am convicted! I have spent (no, wasted) so much time coveting, so much energy worrying, and so much emotion complaining that I don't have a driver's license. Forgive me, Lord Jesus. I have been so preoccupied with calculating how much I need to earn and looking at how all my friends have one...I have been so selfish, Lord. I don't want this to have a hold on my life anymore or to continue keeping me from You. So Lord....You will have to make it clear when you want me to get my license. And if I never get one for the rest of my life, help me to be content with that. In Your strength, this means no more complaining, coveting, self-pity parties, anxiety, or hard-fistedness towards money. All I have is Yours!"

It was then and there that I truly gave my money to Him, knowing that it did not come from my hand anyway, but from the Lord's. Why did I ever think it was mine to begin with?

This year, the Lord has burdened my heart to only spend a certain amount of money every month on necessities or an occasional treat. But, it must first be "okayed" by the Lord. I do not have the freedom to spend any money, even $1, on something that I do not first approach the Lord with. The Lord has been slowly and graciously burdening my heart with the fact that 2 billion people have never heard the name of my precious Jesus and are dying everyday without hope.

How could I spend even $6 on a new purse when that same money could provide two unreached people with the very Word of God? By His grace, my mindset is changing. But oh, that He might loosen my hold on money more and more everyday! I still have so much to learn!

Now, I am not saying that getting a job, possessing a driver's license, or buying a new purse is wrong. What I am saying is this: our money is not our own, so we should live in a way that declares our belief in this. Are we relying on the Lord for everything? Are we asking Him for guidance before spending the money He has given us, whether a little amount or large? Have we given all of our money to the Lord, allowing Him to use it as He chooses? He has blessed us with the money we have. What are we doing with it to impact eternity?

This is still a daily struggle. There are many times that I still want my license, many days I wish I had a larger savings account. And yet, there is such peace trusting in Him; trusting that He will provide for my every need, at the perfect time.

"Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” Hebrews 13:5

Isn't this beautiful?! What is our reason for not loving money or worrying about our needs? Because and only because our God is in control and He has promised to never leave us! What an extraordinary assurance we have!

"Givers can be divided into three types: the flint, the sponge and the honeycomb. Some givers are like a piece of flint - to get anything out of it you must hammer it, and even then you only get chips and sparks. Other are like a sponge - to get anything out of a sponge you must squeeze it and squeeze it hard, because the more you squeeze a sponge, the more you get. But others are like a honeycomb - which just overflows with its own sweetness. That is how God gives to us, and it is how we should give in turn."

Oh, may the Lord give us such a love for Him, such a desire to seek Him and His kingdom first, that we would be as the sweetest honeycomb, overflowing with the pure nectar given to us by our gracious King!

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