Friday, August 27, 2010

Giving In The Desert Moments

2 Corinthians 9:7-9
(New International Version)

7Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.

8And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.

9As it is written:
"He has scattered abroad his gifts to the poor;
his righteousness endures forever."

A lot of people get funny when they are hit with the topic of giving an offering and/or tithing at their church. You typically can hear a pin drop. We are SO tied to our money. I think that people make the mistake at looking at it as the "church" wanting to just get their hands on people's money. And I understand how they can get caught-up in that. Really, I can.

But here's what I've experienced...when I haven't been faithful in my tithing in the past, my financial world has gone literally bonkers. I mean it. Who would have thought that when you don't give just a 10th of what you earn...just a 10th...that your finances could actually go completely awry? We're talking going from being in a financial balance with a family income of almost $4,000/mo. to not being enough to get caught up on credit cards and student loans...thus resulting in a bankruptcy filing. Oh yeah, let's just say that I've learned my lesson. It's a lesson that I never want to have to repeat again.

Here's how it started out...there has always been some credit card debt, but it was basically manageable. I didn't like it, but it was slowly coming down. Then Charming & I got married and two months later found out that we would become parents that coming December. Shocker! We also were hit with the news that Charming was a Type 2 diabetic a month later. Another shocker! It was just about this time that we stopped tithing. The first time either of us had ever stopped tithing in our lives. Mistakes were made trying to keep an online business going...didn't work out well and only got us further into debt. Couple that with the purchases for new things for our little one that was on the way and it equalled even more debt. That debt machine was in full force and wasn't stopping. We become late on a couple of payments and the interest rates went from 6% to 26%! By this time we were about 2 1/2 years into our marriage...and trying to pretend that our world wasn't financially falling apart. We were completely in denial.

Long story short, in December 2008 we completed our bankruptcy...and a huge weight was lifted. And a promise was made that no matter what we were going through, we weren't going to pull back on our tithing. We need God's protection over our finances, especially with the way that this economy is today. And in that scripture above you see that we are called to fulfill an action...and in our fulfilling that action, it allows the promise that God made to be put into motion.

See the promise? Right there in verse 8? I love that promise.

Some might get the wrong impression that since we started our tithing again that things have been easy for us. Nope. They haven't been easy...but we've been able to meet our financial obligations every month. It may be tight, it might be a bit uncomfortable, but we have always had what we need to cover the bases. Most of the time I look at the month's obligations and wonder just how we're going to squeak by, but we always do. We give our tithes and offerings now with a joyful heart. And we have seen that God has been faithful in fulfilling His promise to us.

In a state where we lead the nation in unemployment, Charming has been blessed with a job and been shown favor in it and I have been able to get an evening part-time job (even though it fluctuates)...I call that God's favor and His provision. We've known too many people that are looking for work and can't seem to even get an interview anywhere...yet we have been able to. Our bank accounts have been stretched and we have been faithful in our giving even when we look and see that there wouldn't be enough to meet other obligations between checks. Yet, somehow in a way that only God can, our money seems to stretch and stretch to cover everything. It hasn't been easy and there are times when I think, "There's no way that we can give any more", yet we look at eachother and we give above our tithe...and we give happily because we know that somehow God is going to make everything work out.

The floor has been paced, praying & praise has been something that I do in the still of the night (12am-2am) almost nightly and I have seen God move on our behalf. I have seen Him honor His promises...every time. And I find peace in His presence. That peace is priceless. Especially during the desert moments. I thank God for His faithfulness, His grace and His mercy. When everything starts billowing and looks chaotic, I know that in the midst of it all God is right there to hold our hand and walk us through it.

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