If there’s any subject 100% certain to cause me stress, it’s money. When I was a child, my family was in financial distress all the time. There was always talk of not enough and of the grand-daddy of all money woes: Taxes. My parents’ business owed back taxes, so this word was always floating through their conversations. They didn’t realize it, but I was listening, always listening. I didn’t know what taxes were, but they sounded so scary!
I had another great fear as a child, also due to a mysterious word floating through the adults’ conversations: The Rapture. In the type of church that I grew up in, the preacher often taught about the Second coming of Christ, also called the Rapture, when all the believers would be snatched up to heaven in “the twinkling of an eye”. There were songs written about it, sermons preached about it, and even movies made about it. From the movies, I had the idea that we would all fly upwards naked, leaving our pile of clothing as an ominous indicator of whatever activity we were engaged in at that singular moment. I was OK with flying naked into Heaven, but my major concern lay in the final destination of my blankie. If we weren’t bringing any fabric to Heaven, then what would become of my beloved blankie? I wasn’t sure I could enjoy Heaven without it. This caused me deep anguish.
As an adult, I have out grown my blankie-love and it’s accompanying fear of loss, but I still carry tension where money is concerned. I have over and over again experienced God’s faithfulness in providing for our financial needs, but it’s a hard lesson for me to retain. I seem to have to learn it over and over again. I’m like those block-headed Children of Israel who wandered in the wilderness for 40 years learning and forgetting how to trust God. Learning and forgetting, relearning and forgetting again. So last night when my husband said, “it’s another bad month for us” my heart clenched in my chest.
Our livelihood, every penny we need, comes from supporting churches and individuals back home. And when times are tough back home, times are tough overseas too. Month-to-month we are thankful for our faithful supporters who don’t forget that we are still “out there”, who don’t abandon us. And month-to-month, God stretches the money somehow. We’ve cut corners, eliminated luxuries (from an American’s perspective), and pinched pennies. It’s just tight all around. And it’s tight around my heart too.
We do what we have to do to survive. This week I accepted a teaching position at my kids’ school. Due to the kind of visas we have, I can’t actually receive payment, but I worked out a deal with the administration to convert what I would get paid into free tuition for my 3 kids. This is huge for us! Schooling isn’t free overseas.
We have made tough choices for our family. We feel responsible to our supporters and want to respect their sacrifices as well, so we are careful about how we spend our money. We chose a school that fits within our missionary way of life, yet is not the most expensive school there is. We don’t have our kids in the expensive sports clubs. They just have the after school activities that meet in the dusty old barn of a gym at their school. They don’t get expensive music lessons. We pay a friend to teach guitar lessons. We are careful with how we spend our money.
My point is, we do make tough decisions, just like many of you have to make. We make sacrifices to survive, just like you do. And I have to remind myself constantly that God has been faithful to us… just like you have to remind yourselves of this. Ultimately, the style of life that we have chosen is a life of faith. We believe, though we don’t see it yet. We believe that God will pull us through at the end of the month, but we don’t see it until the last minute. Just like we believe that Jesus is coming back for us, though we haven’t seen it yet.
The Christian life is a faith walk… it’s meant to be. It’s supposed to challenge us. It’s designed to teach us how to remember- through repetition we remember the lessons of how to Trust in our Faithful God. These are the faith-building stories that we tell ourselves and tell our children. God has been faithful, and He will be again.