I’ve learned something new. That is, I have just enough.
I love learning, discovering, and understanding. Unfortunately, I’m a bit stubborn and hard-headed – not to mention redundant. Yet, when something does dawn on me, I am compelled to dig a little deeper, introspect a bit more, and sort it out better in my mind. Not only does this help me establish the certainty of the epiphany, but it solidifies the value into my being.
Last year, when things got desperate, we made a conscious effort to surrender to the financial pressures that sought to kill us. Our mortgage was worthless and required us to pay on a house that was worth only 60% of what we “paid” for it. I was making less as a paramedic than I did as a pastor – and the hours were worse. My job was killing me and killing my family. Jennifer said, “I’d rather live in a tent than continue living like we are now.” And yet, how does one step off? How do you quit the rat race?
We didn’t actually have good answers to these questions, but we knew we couldn’t stay on the treadmill of death. In processing through this, I finally accepted the idea that God is the provider of my family, not me. Of course, this isn’t the way I was raised – and it certainly isn’t a very “American” culture perception. But it is very biblical, and leads to greater serenity. There is great fear in accepting this concept. There is great uncertainty. Who doesn’t like to be in control – or at least feel like we are in control?
“We didn’t actually have good answers to these questions, but we knew we couldn’t stay on the treadmill of death.”
It took several months of healing and practice before I actually began to live a life that is compatible with this principle. Last Fall, after a few months of healing (and catching up on sleep), we sold and gave away our “stuff,” packed our remaining keepsakes into a truck, abandoned our house, and took to the road. For several months we lived with relatives and then in a loaned house. Going through that experience was painful, scary, and challenging. I learned just how invaluable my stuff was and how much I didn’t need it.
Over the course of the past couple of months we’ve put our life back together. It’s been a very exhausting and painful few years. I’ve returned to a life of gainful employment, we now have health insurance and savings, and we’re living in a house we can call home. We are no longer homeless and unemployed.
In the process, we’ve been spending money on a lot of stuff. Granted, we’ve been buying used furniture and replacing some of our “stuff,” but nonetheless, we’ve paid out a lot of cash – for us anyway. Actually, we’ve refurnished our whole house for less than many would spend on a new TV and sound system. The best part is, we are debt free!
I’m a planner. I analyze the present, evaluate my options, and plan for the future. In this process, I’ve been thinking about some major expenses looming on the horizon. We’re going to need new tires on the minivan and I think the suspension needs some major work. I’m also concerned about the transmission and something under the hood occasionally makes a big “clunk” sound. Of course, there are always major expenses looming just under the surface – unexpected urgencies, emergencies, and other unforeseen needs. Living on the financial edge is disconcerting for a planner.
Then it hit me, our money is like manna. God is our provider and He will provide just enough for today’s needs. He tried to teach the exiled Israelites to trust Him and to never collect more manna than they could consume in a single day. In Exodus 16, they were told to gather as much as they needed. Interestingly, “some gathered a lot, some only a little. But when they measured it out, everyone had just enough.” I realized, that God, our provider, would always provide “just enough” to sustain us.
“We are no longer homeless and unemployed.”
I don’t have to be concerned about tomorrow’s expenses and needs, He will provide. He is enough to meet all of our needs – and many of our wants. In His Sermon on the Mount He tells us to not “worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’ These things dominate the thoughts… but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs.” In fact, He says, to “seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.”
“So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.”
I’m beginning to learn and practice this. It’s a good feeling – and it’s very relaxing. He is providing just enough.
PS: This applies to time, love, relationships, and sleep too!