As a family we have been on a long journey of learning about money. I have been stretched in ways I never thought I could cope with. Our journey doesn't make logical sense to the onlooker. The decisions we have made have not always been very earthly wise. Yet we have known bountiful provision despite having a varied income for much of our married lives.
My prayer for a long time was, 'When is this part of the journey going to end? When can I start living a 'normal' life with a 'normal’ income?’
I then started to change my prayer to, 'What is it I still need to learn about money? What is it I haven't learned yet?' In the hope that if I learn the lessons I need to learn things might change and that ‘normal’ income might come.
This question led me to realise my focus on money wasn’t very helpful. I now try to think about provision more than money. We all need to know God's provision in so many ways. I certainly need to know God's provision! Provision for the life essentials like food, clothes and shoes. Provision for self-care like a NHS dentist or a good doctor. Provision for emotional and spiritual well-being like friends to journey with, people to encourage us and spur us on.
Money is just money. Sometimes you have lots, sometimes there’s a deficit. Having money does make things easier to a degree but it doesn't necessarily answer the provision question. If you need a dress for a wedding you still need to find one, regardless of whether you have the money. When you have lots of money you will have a greater freedom when shopping and may know the joy of finding just the right dress for the occasion. But when money is tight you may have more of a sense of the care of the Father leading you to the right shop or to a friend who can lend you the perfect dress.
Instead of asking God for money a better question is to ask Him for our daily bread. And then wait and see what that daily bread is going to look like for that day. For me daily bread has looked different on lots of different occasions.
It's looked like a cup of tea with a friend when I needed encouragement.
It's looked like a prompting to go to a particular supermarket on a particular day.
It's looked like a friend called Joy who kept giving me bags of clothes for my youngest daughter.
It's looked like finding a carpet roll end for just the right colour, size and price.
It's looked like Dave the plumber keeping our old boiler going through the dead of winter.
It's looked like many wonderful family holidays provided for in multiple ways.
It’s looked like a flexible working pattern that allows us to have family meals each day.
Do we sometimes miss the Lord's provision because we have too narrow a view of what it looks like? It's so much more than an envelope of money through the door delivered secretly or an unexpected tax rebate (although we’ve been grateful recipients of these on more than one occasion). He provides for our needs in such varied and wonderful ways. He gives us daily, fresh bread to sustain and revive. And tomorrow's bread will be new, completely different, just what we need for tomorrow. And when we see provision in this way we begin to realise how rich we truly are.