by Liz Johnson
Ever have one of those Sundays? You know, the Sunday mornings that you see the title of the message on the bulletin or hear the pastor’s intro, and instantly you know.
I got this.
I’m good on that.
I’ll sit back and enjoy my coffee or look for gum in my purse now.
I had one of those on Sunday. As soon as I heard, “Don’t love money, but be satisfied with what you have,” I settled into my chair a bit more relaxed. Money’s actually not a huge deal for me, I thought. Yeah, I think I’m good on that. I’ll sit back now and sip my gourmet coffee.
See, I think I’m okay with money – safe to say I don’t even love it all that much. I pay my bills, and I’m completely satisfied with my dented Chevy Malibu, even if the steering wheel is duct-tapped and I can’t express my frequent road rage with a horn. I wear knock-off Ugg boots, buy groceries from Aldi, and was once told that my snow-scraper looks like it was purchased from the clearance rack at Dollar Tree. The School of Hard Knocks: Pastor’s Kid Edition taught me a thing or two about being frugal with my hard-earned bills.
Before you think I’m going to plant my hands on my hips and preach from my soapbox (which is placed ever-so-precariously atop my small mountain of student debt), let me reassure you: I was wrong.
The more the pastor explained Hebrews 13:5-6, the more I began reconsidering my knee-jerk confidence on the money issue. Loving money, he said, is more than just wanting fancy cars (maybe an updated Malibu with airbags still inside the steering wheel?) or designer jeans. It’s being less than satisfied with what you have and looking for satisfaction and security outside of the arms of Christ. The writer of Hebrews goes on to say that we shouldn’t love money because God has said, “I will never fail you. I will never abandon you.”
No, I don’t look for my identity in money. But I do worry about it. I worry about it a lot. Sometimes it makes me so anxious that I push it away – I shove aside the budget plans and the bank statements, the gas receipts and the Dave Ramsey manuals from my parents. Even when I push it away, it’s still on my mind. I don’t necessarily want to make 6-digits someday (although please e-mail me directly if you know of a teaching job offering such a payment package), but I want to make enough. I want to assure myself of safety, security, and hopefully prosperity, too. Maybe I don’t want the Coach purse or the spring break trip to the Bahamas, but I do want control.
When I step back and look at the reality of my grip on money – and the things it can provide – I see white knuckles, clenched fists. I see my lack of trust in God for safety, security and fulfillment and see my own attempts to provide those things for myself.
Truth is, the reality of my own issues with money runs deeper and looks uglier than what I even recognize. While I sometimes feel like I’m doing a stellar job of trusting God to provide for me at this point in my life, things get dicey when He prompts me to give. I sponsor a Compassion child, isn’t that enough, Lord?
He tells me to give, and give cheerfully, willingly. My knuckles get whiter. My fists clench tighter.
I don’t want to pay for the gas to pick her up.
I should only have to pay for my meal, not her’s, too.
I just bought that sweater and it was expensive – she’ll ruin it if she borrows it.
How many times do I let my desire for self-provided security and comfort drown out God’s voice, asking me to trust him? How many times do I let fear ravage my mind, or let greed squelch out opportunities to love people with what I have? God promises to never fail me. He promises to never abandon me. Anxiety and greed are never outpourings of a heart fully trusting in the hand of God.
Trust in God is pink-knuckled (or brown knuckled, or whatever color your knuckles are when they’re not white). It’s fists unclenched. It’s palms up, arms out, full embrace of security and fulfillment in our King. His generosity is wild. He’s given us everything.
He’s given Himself.