Footprints, Finances, Faith.
I’ve known God since I was 14. Perhaps in the last 28 years, there were times I didn’t really KNOW know Him because of stuff we pick up along the way that’s just nonsense, or baggage that we’ve carried along that hinders us. For sure, that’s true. But all along we read, and we’re taught, and we hear, “Trust Him.”
That whole thing of the “footprints in the sand” which I heard as a little girl, and was awed by, I now find clichéd. Undoubtedly, God sustains me through the difficult times of life, but it sure doesn’t feel like a walk on the beach in someone’s arms. It’s more like Dunkirk over here, man, battle after battle to keep my head up, my tears in, my heart steady.
At church recently we sang a song called the King of my Heart. The words are awesome. When it got to the part, “You’re never gonna let me down,” I was completely undone, trying to keep snot and snorting in check. As Christians we have to KNOW that He’s not going to let us down. Whatever we’re believing for that lines up with His principles and His Word, will surely come to pass. For us right now, its finances. Our family is amazing, our relationships are strong, we are content with our daily routines, but there is such a worry about provision for the future right now.
Warning: backstory #1.
Scene: Zimbabwe, 2003- we’re married for 6 years, 2 kids in.
We owned restaurants at the time, and were looking to move location to a residence rather than a shopping centre. So it turns out that Heath and the Holy Spirit have their own conversation unbeknownst to me, outside a certain double storey. Heath hears clearly, this house is yours. We end up living there for a year, and then with half the money saved to buy it, we approach the owners- Catholic priests- to buy it. Don’t know why God didn’t tune them in to the same frequency, but they were adamantly not selling, like, ever. In fact, it was going to be their training home for the new, younger priests, and the pool and tennis court would never be used. I’m pregnant with Luke; the roller-coaster hormones together with the nesting-in instinct are treacherous. I cry with each denied appeal, each prayer, each day of deferred hope. Finally, one more request to reconsider, and they agree to set the price. Now we have to find the money! OVERNIGHT the exchange rate changes, and we now have exactly the asking price for the house. We paid cash, and borrowed no money. (The economy of Zim at that time is not really going to be summarised in a paragraph. It was just a crazy, crazy time. Sorry if this is mind-blowing, but that’s how it was!)
Warning: backstory #2.
When we decided (word in bold for a reason) to have four kids, we trusted God to provide. Child #3 was just under a year old, and Heath and I had been ‘chatting’ about a possible fourth, then ending it with ha ha ha. After differing a bit about it, we agreed we didn’t want it coming between us, so, “officially,” Luke was the last. Call me a rebel, but TWO DAYS LATER, I found myself crying out to God in the car on the drive home from dropping other kids at pre-school, “Arrgh! I don’t know what’s going on! We’ve said, ‘no more,’ but I don’t feel finished! If this is Your will, You’re going to have to speak to Heath.” (Note to users: never ask God if He wants you to have more kids. He loves the things. He said they’re His reward, for heaven’s sake.) Quickest answer to prayer ever- a call from Heath LATER THAT DAY to meet for a chat. He tells me, “The book’s still open.” I bawl. How? Well, that very morning at their men’s group, they had put away the curriculum they were following, and discussed their personal lives. Heath bemoaned the demanding-ness of kids and the resultant tired-ness of wife. Other guys spoke to him about family, and their regrets in not having more kids, and lo! He changed his mind. And lo! A year later, Ethan.
We have pretty much been a one-income family all along, what with me giving birth to numerous babies one after the other, and then having to, well, raise them. Not only that, we owned our cars, and our home, all of which make up an incredible story of God’s provision.
These amazing milestones are like an altar of remembrance of God’s goodness in our lives. I need to reflect on them, I need to write this. Our lives in Zim before we left were hard; four kids in school, and our lifestyle was very basic. No holidays away, just working to put the kids through school, really. Then Heath and I made the decision to sell our beautiful home, our huge, miracle gift from God, to enable us to realise educational opportunities for the boys, and to better our lifestyle in South Africa. And that’s how we did it.
But two thirds of that investment failed, and we are in the same position again, wondering how God is going to get us out of this. Heath’s job does not cover costs for our family monthly, simply because there are so many of us, and I’m not working and bringing in an income. Well, I am “working,” but homeschooling and housewifing doesn’t bring in the bacon, it only cooks it. A thousand times a day, our minds go to what else we can possibly do to change this situation, but this time there is no house to sell. We have tortured ourselves deliberating over the investment we made and lost, but the simple fact is, God could have prevented that…easily. He’s God, after all. So there’s something going on. Maybe we’re like a tiny off-spin series to Job. Job only lost all his stuff because God ‘allowed’ it. Which means when Job was prospering, it was because God was keeping all the bad stuff from happening.
For me, one of the most confusing areas of faith is how much we are to do, and how much we are to expect God to do. But to date, I have never seen money fall from heaven, or had a car delivered by angelic hosts. On the contrary, we’re working on our attitude and outlook on these things. I’m weighing up my expectation against His Word. I know:
But remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth, and so confirms his covenant, which he swore to your ancestors, as it is today. Deut. 8:18
Wealth gained by dishonesty will be diminished, But he who gathers by labour will increase. Prov. 13:11
And this one, slightly more brutal: The one who is unwilling to work shall not eat. 2 Thess.3:10
So I can’t sit back and say, “Oh, God will provide.” I believe there is delegation of decisions and work, and labour, and wisdom that He gives to me in order to make provision. Like I said, it confuses me, and one day, I’m ready to sign up for a degree to get qualification for a high-paying job, and another, I’m trying to justify how I would do that, when our decision to homeschool the younger two boys takes most of my time (and sanity) and energy.
So this blog is open-ended. It will hopefully have an addendum of another miracle in our lives of His provision and blessing, because that is what His promises to us are, and that is what we are believing for now. We hold our tongues so as not to deny Him, but we do tell Him our frustrations and doubts on the shaky days. Then we hold our peace, knowing that He knows our frailty. Some days I am able to declare scripture and verse all day long, believing that tomorrow something will break, tomorrow is the day that breakthrough comes, tomorrow. Other days, I ask Him why He has to wait so long, and what I’ve done to have to endure this, and plead with Him to remember His promises. Most times it ends with just being still, and knowing He’s God.
Relationship with God can be confusing because usually relationships go well according to what you do right. We often have to unswirl our thoughts of what we’ve done,
or not done,
or should be doing,
so that God can bless, can work, or can answer.
But His love undoes all of these arguments, this confusion. He is God, He is I AM. And tomorrow has enough worries of its own. May we learn to be still, and secure in the fact that He is God, and He loves us so much.
May the lessons learned in the chaos or the quiet lead you closer to Him.
Lots of love,
I lift up my eyes to the mountains— where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth… The Lord watches over you— the Lord is your shade at your right hand;the sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon by night. The Lord will keep you from all harm— he will watch over your life; the Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore. Psalm 121