Such a simple word. Should be easy. Right?
Today I’m going to open up and share a piece of my heart along with a peek inside some of the pages of my Documented Faith Journal as well as my Journaling Bible.
Last weekend our Pastor wrapped up his sermon series “Money Myths” and addressed why tithing is so important. What a week for this series to finish up, after so much devastation, pain and loss being experienced right now in our church family. How in the world was he going to bring this all together. I even thought that maybe he would just skip it. But he didn’t. He brought it all together in only a way that complete trust and obedience in the Lord can do. In the end Pastor Ken left us with these two questions to ask ourselves…
1. Do I trust Him … even when I don’t understand
2. Will I obey Him … even when I’m scared and uncertain
At first glance I would jump up and shout a resounding “Yes”, of course I trust and obey God!
But as I sat there thinking about what those questions meant in light of recent happenings as well as what God has been uncovering and revealing to and for me personally I began to rethink my quick answer. I could feel my heart beat louder and the stirring in my gut as I literally began to feel sick to my stomach. Could I seriously have a trust issue?
See, I’m “un” admittedly what some would call a type A personality, control freak if you would. Those that know me are shocked I’m sure. God’s been working on me for some time now to let go of the need for control. I think it’s one of the reason He blessed me with six children. He has a sense of humor like that. Along the way I found myself becoming a worrier. I wasn’t always… a worrier, that is. Honestly, I’m not sure I was always type A. I’ve been reading that when hit with a traumatic situation one can tend to either feel helpless and may even sink into depression or they go in the opposite direction and kick into more of a type A personality that does something to change their circumstances. It makes sense. You don’t want to experience the pain or loss so you think if you just “do” you can have control over it. It’s not a bad thing in and of itself, taking control of a situation that’s not pleasant. Changing your life for the better.
But then worry and anxiety kick in, never seeming to have enough time, doing enough, being enough, having enough to get back to that feeling of control and security. I read one article that described a type A person as an ordinary normal person operating at his/her maximum possible speed. Yep! Now that I can nod my head to. It’s said that type A’s are under a tremendous amount of stress by living life this way and are at a higher risk of heart disease. Interestingly enough it’s been questioned whether type A’s are even more prone to things like fibromyalgia. Whoa… a wake up call perhaps? I have a whole back history of childhood trauma, then ongoing losses and unresolved grief and fear that could explain all this insecurity that’s led to worry and ultimately a lack of trusting anyone.
When we don’t trust others in life we will find it difficult to relax. We’re too busy trying to be in control to get the rest we need and end up being physically and emotionally fatigued. We experience this even in the simplest of terms when we ask our kids or husband to do household tasks and then come behind them and redo it to how it “ should” be done… not that I’ve ever done that. The same is true for God. We haven’t given up complete control if we say we trust Him but then go and try to “figure out” a solution on our own. Not that I’m admitting to anything there either.
I will admit, I have struggled at times to figure out if trusting Him means I’m suppose to just let go and rest in Him or if I’m suppose to step out and take action. I can’t imagine I’m the only one. Those are the times that prayer and being in His word is crucial as well as having the ear of a close christian friend or mentor. Instead of being so busy trying to figure things out we need to simply, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. ~ Proverbs 3:5-6”. (submit = accept or yield to a superior force or to the authority or will of another).
For me, I think I just need to get out of my own way! How about you? If we don’t, we end up with physical and emotional fatigue as well as spiritual fatigue because we are trying to carry a burden that we were never meant to carry. Jesus tell us, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” ~ Matthew 11:28-30.
“Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?” ~ Matthew 6:27.
And guess what? Worrying only gives the illusion of control. All that stress and worry doesn’t prevent bad things from happening and then we are tempted to question God. Pastor Ken reminded us that there are things we were never meant to understand and the minute we think we understand everything about how God thinks and does then we minimize God to man’s understanding. I think this was paramount for me… I’ve had to work hard to separate my understanding of my Heavenly Father from my earthly.
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” ~ Isaiah 55:8-9
I like the way the Living Bible Translation (TLB) words it, “This plan of mine is not what you would work out”.
Isn’t that the truth! When life doesn’t make sense we tell ourselves this is “not what we would have worked out”. That’s when we are tempted to take back control and try and figure it out ourselves. We start asking questions that don’t have answers and for me at least, insecurities and worries creep back in. It’s in this in between struggle of holding on and letting go that I think Satan works the hardest. But that’s when we need to not only trust God but obey Him more than ever. Like Peter, even when you’re exhausted and you’ve been working all night with no results, you put your nets down into the water on the other side of the boat (which makes no sense whatsoever) just because God said so. And when you do, blessings will not only come, but will be overflowing.
So what does all this have to do with wrapping up a sermon series on money myths and tithing? It has a ton to do with it. God doesn’t need or even want our money. Shocker right? What He wants is for us to trust Him with our whole life. Not part, but all. Not everything except this “one little part” that we need to figure out and end up worrying about anyway. Because after all, “It’s easier to worry than trust right?”, said in my most sarcastic voice. This is where the tithe comes in. Giving it shows evidence of our spiritual growth and trust in Him. Holding on to it will just lead to spiritual fatigue. If we aren’t spiritually strong enough to trust God with 10% of what He’s blessed us with to begin with then how in the world will we trust Him in times of difficulty. As Pastor Ken concluded, it’s not a tithing issue… It’s a trust issue.
So there I sat with the two questions before me. Will I trust… even when I don’t understand and will I obey… even when I’m scared and uncertain? My heart was pounding and stomach felt sick because I knew I’ve had issues with trust. Without realizing it I had learned at an early age that I couldn’t trust anyone but myself. I can’t really trust myself because I’ve fallen into the trap and believed the lies Satan has whispered to me about never enough. There is really only one view of me and of life that can completely be trusted. I’ve spent time relearning and rebuilding my relationship with God. I had to reset my thought process and believe and accept that He loves me more than I can understand and trust that He wants the best for me… always.
Finances are just part of this, but it’s an important part. Being self employed it can get a bit tricky. Perfect for those who like to be in charge, but It’s not so fun when you’re unsure of when or where your next pay check will come from. There is a lot of time and energy spent scrambling to make ends meet and attention to details can often be missed. It’s easy to give 10% when work is consistent and easily countable. It’s much more of a struggle when it’s inconsistent and not so easy to count. But that’s not an excuse to just guess because quite honestly that’s what I feel like we do a lot of the time instead of taking the time and energy to figure out what a tithe actually is in our circumstances. And then what will tend to happen is the giving will end up coming from what was left over and not the first fruits. We are told to “Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the Lord Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it. ~ Malachi 3:10
We’ve trusted God financially through some pretty desolate times and He has always been there, not just seeing, but carrying us through. And honestly some of the solutions would not have been what we would have planned for us at the time and were very difficult, but we’ve always seen the blessings that have come from those times of trusting. God never promised easy… although I honestly wish life were just a tad bit easier some days. What He promises is presence… His Presence. No mater what He will be there to see us through. We are just asked to trust and obey. Let go of whatever it is we are holding on so tightly to and release it into His hands. It will be okay. In fact, it will be more than okay… He promises.
“And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.” ~ Elizabeth Appell