August 7, 2012

The insidious whispers of your budget

If you have followed my blog I’ve testified the Lord has provided just enough just in time over the last couple of years.  I have high expenses because of my Californian home.  There is nowhere in the Bible that says, “thou shalt have a lovely home in California”.  So I’ve been willing to sell and have "put it on the altar” numerous times, in church speak.  But the Lord proved His will to me and kept providing in the most unusual ways.  He made it clear to me my own workaholic efforts were toil and vanities because oftentimes the prospects I worked hardest cultivating ended up not becoming clients after all.  And then at very last minute a brand new client I had never met before appeared out of the blue.  Such has been 2010 through this year.

But now the lesson is changing with me.  For the last two years I have kept a very careful eye on my expenses, tallying everything in a spreadsheet and sometimes looking at my projected expenses and income every day.  But I also stepped out in faith and made some investments.  So money is starting to expand slowly in my bank account by His grace.  However, yesterday He made it clear He wants me to listen to Him before I purchase something, and not check my budget spreadsheet if I will have sufficient funds.  This has pushed me into an area of discomfort, wondering if I will hear Him correctly on what to purchase and what not to.  When I started agreeing with Him that I wouldn’t look at my spreadsheet and plug in the new potential expenses, then I realized I could hear His voice exceedingly clearly.  How insidious the whispers of money are, of your budget!!  What I rationalized as being a good steward was actually excess yielding to the dictates of money.  The word “dictates” I chose because dictates means to “lay down authoritatively, prescribe, to say”.  The root word is the same as in diction, it is about speaking.  When you are watching your pennies closely those pennies will “speak” to you and muddle your hearing God.  We can’t listen to both God and money.

Here is an example.  This evening I needed a binder.  I went into my garage sensing a binder would be there somewhere.  I found a single binder, buried, and only one.  It was very dusty from years ago.  When I came back inside and started putting the hole-punched papers in the binder I heard the Lord say, “How did you know there was a binder in the garage?”  His question stopped me.  I realized I just knew, I just knew because of His Spirit lightly leading me to explore the garage.  He didn’t need to say anything more for me to realize He was telling me His Spirit should similarly lead me in all my activities, including purchases, and not my spreadsheet.  Of course, I constantly pray and seek His guidance before any purchase, but He is wanting to refine my listening further in saying there is an insidious voice of money speaking from my budget.  What if He says to do it and my budget says I shouldn’t, I should keep more money in the bank?  He’s proved to me these past years that when I’m in step with Him, the money that is needed for my flowing in His desires for my life will always be there.  I need some repairs on the house and He has said to just get the repairs done and not hesitate, He has always provided.  I wanted to help a non-profit and He put me in a position to greatly help financially and with my time, which gave me immense joy.  None of these things were in my carefully controlled budget spreadsheet.

So I will end by saying I’m astounded how insidious the whispers of money are, especially through what we might rationalize as good stewardship.  The many ways it has us listening to its sneaky voice.  It whispers, “you can’t fix that or buy that because you don’t have the money.”  Or, “if you worked a little harder, then you would have the money you need.”  Or, “if you gave a little more, that’s the equation for God to bless you more.”  Or, “why are you buying that for yourself when you could help the poor more instead?”  That chatter of mammon with the little gray clouds of oppression and gloom are not the Kingdom’s way, I believe.  The way of the Kingdom is a lightness in God, almost a floating feeling, where you just do what He says – even if your budget spreadsheet makes you nervous – and allow Him to be your Father, allow Him to be your provider… not you.  It takes all the weight off your shoulders when you simply accept His sweet presents and surprises.  The more He surprises and blesses me the more I want to surprise and bless others.  Isn’t that a way of the Kingdom?