I am sure we have all had times when the numbers in our household budget just don’t add up. There’s just is not enough coming in to meet what is going out, or what we would like to go out!
This has been the case for Dave and I at different times and in different ways over the years. Sometimes there hasn’t been enough for the day to day but more often it has been the extras, like holidays or a new car or paying for Christmas, which have been a faith stretch for us.
God has grown our faith in terms of provision over the years. An example of this would be an increase in faith that the Lord wants to provide family holidays for us. A number of years ago we cancelled our summer holiday, losing our deposit, because we didn’t have the money in the bank to pay the full amount. A few days later we received more than enough to cover the holiday. That was a big learning lesson for us. We can testify that we have always been able to have a few family holidays each year, either because God has provided the money or because we have been given a cheap holiday. Our faith has grown and we feel confident that God wants us to be able to have time away for rest and fun and so even when we don’t have the funds we try to make steps to plan a holiday.
So, when the money doesn’t add up it is an opportunity to see how God wants to work and provide in our lives, which grows our faith and confidence in His care.
This doesn’t mean we don’t need to do anything, there are things we can do like careful budgeting, bargain hunting or setting aside money in advance for the extras and unexpected outlays.
But sometimes still the numbers just don’t add up.
There are default questions Dave and I ask ourselves at times like these;
Do we owe any money?
Is there an outstanding bill to pay? Do we owe money to a friend or a family member? Are we up to date with school or club payments for the girls?
If there is a bigger debt to pay do we have a plan? Can we pay it off over several months? We have been blessed as a family in such a way that we have never had debt that we haven’t been able to manage to pay off in an arranged way. For some this is not a reality for many complex reasons. And so, if debt is out of hand you need to reach out for expert help and support. So, your question might be;
Do we have a plan for the money we owe?
I am realising that one of the reason God wants us to pay off debts is because unpaid debts don’t just take a financial toll they take an emotional toll. They can come between a friendship or they can cause our hearts to be heavy or anxious. In clearing our debts or making a plan to clear our debts we are protecting relationships and we are clearing space in our hearts to receive from others and from God.
As Paul wrote, ‘Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another.’ (Romans 13.8)
Paul is not saying you should never take on any debt but he seems to be acknowledging the wedge that money can form in relationships and he is spurring us on to love each other well, to love each other extravagantly even, and not to let it 'remain outstanding'.
Another question Dave and I ask is;
What can we give?
It is counter intuitive but a great response when we need money is not to hold onto money but to give some away. It releases something in us personally – acknowledging the responsibility for provision is the Lord’s. It can also release something spiritually – priming the pump for the flow of money. This needs to be done responsibly, in conversation with the Lord and others and following the guidance of peace in your heart.
Mickle Bickle uses the phrase, 'Give your way out of trouble'. For some inspirational stories to reflect on follow this link.
So try it. Next time the numbers don’t add up find a way of giving some money away. And begin to stretch those giving muscles. Let’s live into being a generous people who are able to hold what we do have with open hands to share with others, knowing that with open hands we are also able to receive from God and others.