I started writing this blog to celebrate how The Lord provides in our finances. Halfway through, I realized I hypocritically was lauding a perspective on “blessings” that I don’t believe has theological basis. Please join in the discovery, though it can be painful.
In my experiences (both Stateside and overseas), I rarely saw “missionaries” who seemed to have “all that they need”. I’ve known families or people to leave their ministry locations to get more lucrative jobs, or fundraise a bit more. There are a lot of conflicting attitudes about this. Sometimes, if people don’t have money, they interpret it as God “denying” approval on their work or lives. (Likewise outsiders eagerly stamp “denied” on those works who aren’t funded). Whereas, if a ministry is fully funded we are quick to say, “Oh the Lord approves of your work.”
Let us recall that Christ himself said, “It’s easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle, rather than a rich man to enter heaven.” Ched Meyer’s scholarly perspective on this passage echos something my own heart’s thoughts for a long time – it’s not that rich people can’t enter heaven. It’s that no one gets into heaven still attached to their socioeconomic status. The same way the poor don’t enter heaven with their poorness. The rich don’t enter with their richness. Additionally, Christ spends a lot of time telling the rich (if you’re in North America, you’re actually rich) how to live. It seems a holy way of living becomes more challenging the wealthier you are. So let us not think that hard work or merit makes us rich. And let us not think that richness makes us good people. If so, 95% of the women I know in Masini would be top CEOs of multinational companies. Your college degrees got nothing on their hard work!
With these thoughts in mind, I’d like to share how thankful I am for our financial situation. Instead of being folks who check their bank account daily to see if they have a few pennies to rub together, we can trust that there are always enough dollars.
We have a lovely couple from Ohio who committed to support us financially for two years while we lived in Swaziland. Recently, the two years was up, and they have other ministries to share with. They faithfully NEVER missed a month of sending us a handwritten check. (Impressive to me!) There’s a LOT more to these fabulous, humble folks than a donation, but I don’t like outing our donors. 😉 In the same month that their committment of $50/month ended, someone else increased her committment. Instead of just doubling her contribution, she increased it 5 times, covering the $50 “deficit” we would have had, and then almost that much extra pours in each month from her. Now, I LOVE theat I know the names, hearts, and faces behind these numbers, I love knowing this couple and the amazing ministry they work with, the way they live intentionally in their community. I love knowing this woman whose heart listens to the Lord and follows His voice, even when it adds strife or struggle into a life that could have been easy or cushioned from the hardness of the world. I LOVE knowing these other hands and feet and eyeballs are working in the Body. The darkness is held back by such Body parts as them.
I also love the God who is behind it all. The God who finds it lovely enough to use a couple who was near-strangers to us to pour prayers, and life, finances and ministry encouragements into US. I love the God who thinks ahead. He knows we could have been fine without that $50 a month. We would carry on just fine. But I love that maybe He decided to REMIND me of His provision, His undeserved faithfulness, His creative use of Hands and Feet to spread The Kingdom. I love that maybe He decided to show up to me in our bank account. Knowing said couple was moving to bless other ministries with their hearts and gifts, knowing I would probably find reasons to stress about money issues and a new baby, and he placed it on a woman’s heart. And she started writing bigger checks.
There He is.
I choose to see Him.
The reason I see Him so clearly in this financial situation is because I CHOSE to see Him there. It’s easier for my Western mind to see God in material things. It’s easy to see Him in money, because, well, I look at money a lot. It’s easy to see Him in my bank account because I honestly believe if we struggle financially, it’s a reflection of His approval on my life. Yup. I do. I don’t WANT to. I disagree with the theology behind it, yet I struggle to rise above that ingrained, societal, toxic way of thinking. That one of God’s greatest ways of “blessing” us is WITH MONEY. (Yes, we all say we feel blessed with family, or friends, or a nice job, but money definitely tops out on the list!)
It’s not. Christ even tried teaching His disciples (and therefore us) that it’s the poor, the mourning, the humble, the hungry, the thirsty, the merciful, the pure-hearted, the peace workers, the persecuted, and the mocked who receive the Lord’s blessing (Matthew 5:3-12). And the only thing these folks get is God’s Presence.
If my eyes could open; if my heart could hold all His glory, that’s what I could get. His Presence. Him being in me FULLY and with me WHOLLY all the time. That’s what heaven is. That’s the blessing. That’s where He shows up. That’s the gift.
And if that Kingdom is prayed for here “on earth as it is in heaven”, then I should put myself in situations where extreme peace-making is needed, or mercy lacks, so that His presence might pour out. And even in that doing, I’ll glimpse heaven in humanity.
And so I repent. I repent from the thoughts that Christ’s approves of my work because people give me money. I repent from thinking “our ministry must be on the right track if we never have financial problems.” I repent from the contradictory thought that blessing equals money, yet I know money pours into some pretty awful people, doing some ugly stuff to communities and people in the name of Christ. I repent from thinking I’ve somehow earned the approval of my fellow Christians, which feels like an approval from Christ.
Lord, I know that my worth and beauty in your eyes comes solely from your Son. I regret that I’m so keen to see you in money, but not in the flowers that weren’t destroyed in the hail storm. I CHOOSE to see You in more places. I want to see beyond money in how You Provide. I want to know your love even when it seems there is no provision. I want to see you in spiritual, mental and emotional places, not just the physical. I want to know you on all of these realms. That you might shower me with Your Presence that makes earth into heaven. All the time. May we re-examine our hearts and work diligently to align them with Your Perfect One.