This blog is long overdue for an update. I've been meaning to sit down and write out my thoughts and life experience, but I simply haven't had the time to!
In short, my life has been incredible as of late. God has been working in huge, visible ways in my life, and I feel very encouraged and joyful with my relationship with Him.
The longer version is this (be prepared, I did warn you of the length): Throughout my transition from college to "adulthood" (whatever that means), I can honestly say I've never had to rely on God more to provide for my everyday necessities. I think because I've never given God so many opportunities to show His provision and sovereignty in my life, I've never seen God so active in my life before! It is truly amazing how much faith we lack! Here in America, by and large, we do not worry about being hungry or thirsty or where we're going to sleep at night. Attending college which my parents were footing the bill for, I never had to worry about paying rent on time, or paying for gas.
Being financially independent was a huge jolt into adulthood. I realized that come July, I would be over budget by $320. In August, I would have to start drawing from my savings to pay for my rent and living expenses each month. Worried, I prayed that the Lord would provide for me.
Backing up a little bit, when summer project support raising began, I had, as usual, saved each month over the past year to be able to give to missions. This year, I had saved about $500, a little more than last year. However, I still ended up writing out more checks than I had planned for. I realized that even though my budgeting for charitable giving was great, I never felt like I was truly trusting God with it until I was giving to the point where I was uncomfortable.
It's not just the act of giving. It's our posture.
"Jesus sat down opposite the place where the offerings were put and watched the crowd putting their money into the temple treasury. Many rich people threw in large amounts. But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a few cents. Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others.They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything—all she had to live on."
-Mark 12: 41-44
This passage is so humbling for me. I am constantly reminded of my own pride when I plan out my spending so meticulously, including my tithe, without realizing that my heart is much more of a Pharisee than of a woman willing to give everything for the sake of the Lord. I want a faith like that.
I ended up giving a few hundred more than I had originally intended. Hence, my $320 deficit for July. So I prayed that the Lord would provide for me. I started looking on Craigslist and Mustang Jobs to see if there were any local jobs I could take on for the month of July, as I would be moving up to SF at the end of the July. Unfortunately, pretty much all the jobs were looking for people who were in SLO through the whole summer, until September. But the very next day, my senior project adviser called me in to talk about my senior project. I was not happy, because I just knew he was going to give me more work to do with revisions, and expected him to say I needed to do more work before he could give me an A. Instead, he told me that it was a great paper, I had gotten my A, and he wanted to hire me to be his TA for a personal finance class he's offering this summer. To make it even more perfect, he only needed me for the first half of the class-which happened to be through the month of July. Wow.
On another occasion, a couple days later, I needed to pay my rent for the month of July. I'm subletting from a friend, and she gave me a great deal by letting me stay for $200. Of course, money is still really tight, but the professor that I dogsit for was going out of town for a week and needed me to dogsit for her. We don't have an established rate; so I prayed that she would pay me enough to pay for my July rent. She ended up giving me all that I needed plus some extra! And she didn't even know that I needed it!
Yet again, there was a separate incident where the Lord materially provided for me. As many of you know, moving costs a fair amount of money. So I've been trying to save up some money to offset those costs by squirreling away graduation money, etc. One of the main expenses I've been planning for is the cost of buying a new bed. You see, beds are absurdly expensive! For a cheap twin-size bed frame and mattress, it costs about $600-$700. For a cheap bed! So far, I had been doing really well with planning out my savings so I could afford to purchase a bed. Then I got an invitation to my friends' wedding. It would be in San Diego, which means the costs of transportation, food, a gift, etc would probably be about $200 for the whole event. Not wanting to miss out on a once-in-a-lifetime event, I decided to suck up my frugality for one weekend and go for it. However, a verse that I had read recently came to my mind:
"Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."
Though I made a conscious decision to be there for my friends' wedding, the financial planner in me still had to deal with the fact that $200 would significantly take a bite out of my savings for my big move. So even though it seemed a little silly to pray for this, I prayed that God would provide a means for transportation to and from the wedding so that I wouldn't have to pay a dime. My mom called me a couple weeks later, and let me know that they had left a twin-size frame in the apartment for me. This meant a savings of about $300 for me! :)
Now fast forward to this week. On Monday, Karla was moving out of the house and back down to SD. We grabbed some dinner and she told me that she was really nervous to drive home, because her car was so full, she couldn't see out the back window. She said, "I just really wish I could leave my (twin size, memory foam) mattress here! That's what's taking up so much room in my car!" My eyes widened, and I pretty much said something like this, "Ummm, oh my gosh, can I have it?! We might be an answer to each others' prayers!!!!" I ended up saving another $300 by taking her mattress, thus making the wedding completely affordable, and she was so relieved to be able to see out the back of her car again, and made it home safely the next day.
Once again, God provided for me in a creative, unimaginable, tangible way. I have been in complete awe at how small my faith is, and how I've always put God in a box. God is so, so much bigger and better to fit into a box of my creation.
At the end of the day, I find myself marveling at the mystery of the cross, that I would find myself given a status as special and as intimate as His daughter. Wow. Just wow.
Disclaimer: God is not a genie, and just because His answers my prayers lately have been "yes," it doesn't mean that I pray to get what I want. Although I know that the Lord enjoys giving gifts to His children, I'm convinced that these blessings are just exercises in faith. If I can trust the Lord to provide me with the smaller things, how much more can I trust Him with the big things in my life?