by Molly Audiss
Psalm 103:2 “Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits.”
In the fall of 2002, my husband left a management job in Chicago to become a Bible teacher at Hammond Baptist Junior High. We had been married for two years, and were expecting our first child. That year was an exciting and scary year for us, as everything in our lives changed within a matter of months. We were thrilled to begin our dream of working in full-time service for the Lord, but we were more than a little apprehensive about the change in our finances. You see, in a year’s time, we purchased our first home, I gave birth to our first child, I left my teaching career to be a homemaker, and my husband took a large pay cut. As our expenses increased, our income was reduced by over 65%. Let me share some of the valuable lessons we learned that year about the Lord’s provision.
First of all, let me say that the Lord always provides for His children. (Psalm 145:15 Thou openest thine hand, and satisfiest the desire of every living thing.) But I can confidently tell you that He does not provide for us in the manner in which we think He would or should. It is not usually going to be an envelope full of cash showing up mysteriously in our mailbox on the day a bill is due. Money is only one way God provides for us. He may keep our cars running, or keep our children healthy to save us on medical bills. He may keep our appliances working, as well as our furnace. He may keep us from getting in a car accident, or lead us to a great sale in the store. It is not only what we make on payday, but what we do not have to pay out that keeps us “in the black” financially.
Am I saying that if we are in God’s will, that we will not have car problems, health problems, or money pressures? No, of course not! I am saying that the Christian life is to be lived by faith, and it will never make sense looking ahead and adding it up with a calculator. God wants us to trust His Word, which promises us that He will take care of us. Wanting assurance for the future is where we start to get nervous. The Lord provides on a day-to-day basis, not yearly. Knowing human nature, He wouldn’t hear from us for a year if He took away our fears in advance. I have found that our God is not interested in our obedience if it only comes when we understand. He wants us to obey first and understand later. When we step out in faith, He provides the miracles needed to make it all work out right.
Next, I admit that sometimes things will get worse before they get better. Our first year in the ministry together was a struggle. As we prayed for help with our bills, our basement flooded! Because we had just moved, many of our possessions were still in boxes on the basement floor. I cried as I watched the garbage man load six dumpsters full of my things. Also at that time, my husband was re-shingling the house, and had a tarp covering part of the roof as we traveled out of town for a funeral. While we were gone, the wind blew the tarp off the roof, and the rain poured into the house all night. We came home and opened the door to the baby’s room to find the ceiling had fallen to the floor! This was the only room in the house that we had fixed up- new carpet, new baby furniture, everything was ruined! Well, to make a long story short, the man who came to appraise the damage for the insurance company had been a member of our church years before, and he loved our pastor, Dr. Hyles. He also loved the crown molding and doors of our old home, which he said would be very expensive to replace. Needless to say, when the insurance check came in the mail, it was enough to remodel the bedroom, AND pay our bills for the entire school year AND pay off our car! We were debt-free for the first time in our marriage! God taught me a great lesson- not to put too much value on things. I honestly cannot tell you one specific thing that was in all of those boxes we had to throw away. I never really missed anything, and having less was actually a stress-reliever. I would not have known how to pray for all those blessings, but God knew exactly what we needed. (Romans 8:26 …for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us…)
Next, we should never make a spiritual decision based on money. God will make up the difference of what we need in ways that cannot be imagined. Most importantly, we should never decide whether or not to give tithes and offerings because of money pressures! That would be a recipe for disaster! Tithing is a command of God, and we will never prosper financially if we hold back what is His. (Malachi 3:8 Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings. ) Trust me, we must tithe even when we cannot see your way through till payday. God will bless our obedience and faith. My husband and I have sat down at the end of the year and looked at our tithing statement, dumbfounded, wondering how God gave us as much as He did. We will never out-give the Lord. He is the most generous, kind provider there is!
Next, let’s not portray the Christian life in a negative light when we are struggling. The time between the start of a problem and when God comes through for us is a crucial time. (Job 1:22 In all this Job sinned not, nor charged God foolishly.) Let’s watch especially during the hard times that we do not criticize the Lord’s work. Others, including our children, need to see that we love and trust the Lord even when we cannot see the way. Our Christian testimony is revealed when we stay faithful in the dark hours. We’ll be so glad we did not “jump ship” when the Lord removes our burden.
Lastly, may I say, that each time the Lord meets our needs and provides for us- let’s not forget it! (Psalm 103:2 Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits.) When we began working in the ministry, I decided to start a Blessing Notebook. Each time the Lord blessed us financially, I wrote it down with the date. I included each time we where given money, furniture, gift cards, clothing, etc. Reading back through this notebook gives me faith for the next time we face a stress or pressure. He has always come through for us in the past, and He will always come through for us in the future.
We serve a great and mighty God! How He loves us and provides for us! What a privilege to serve Him! Keep your chin up, dear lady. God is going to see you through.