I like a good story. And not just any story. I want adventure, action, make believe. I want superheroes and super villains. I want science fiction and mystery, non fiction and unique biographies…I want from rags to riches, love stories, strong characters, and larger than life inspiration!
Life is such a story. Mine. Yours. The guy in front of you in the line at Starbucks…
Today, I heard such a story that was still in process and it reminded me of my own. It was a little more depressing as this person is currently living in financial limbo, but it reminded me of the grace that I have experienced, and the security of Jesus that I have come to depend on.
14.5 Years ago, I met the man I was to marry. Boy meets girl. Boy proposes to girl. Boy marries girl. Married life begins. It was kind of a rickety start for us. We lived in a 1 room apartment with shared walls and two cats. It was almost dream like. So romantic. But let’s have a reality check. Memories are shrouded in time and sepia toned nostalgia. Reality has no such clothing. We were broke. The carpet in our apartment had mysterious black stains that would randomly appear. Depression had taken hold of us separately, years before, and therapy was expensive. Rent was expensive. (What I wouldn’t give to pay $550 a month for rent now!). The car died, the cooler smelled like fish, and we were suffocating under our debt. I sat on my bed and waited for my husband to come home. 15 months into marriage and we were on the brink of homelessness. The economy hadn’t even begun to crash and we were dead in the water.
Like so many other moments in our lives, hindsight holds unmistakable clarity. There, in that moment of despair, entered Jesus. He had been there all along, but he was about to tear the last bit of security from our lives, and probably at our own ridiculous request. My husband’s parents had experienced something similar and had to move into a decrepit piece of real estate. With nowhere left to go besides the shelter, we moved in with them.
I can’t even begin to express how much a person can honestly live without, because even now, I am sure that I have more than some. If the world burned apart at this moment, sure—I’d miss my hand-me-down, 200lb TV, my hand-me-down recliner that comes apart if you lean too far back, and my hand-me down bed that sinks in the center if you roll too far while you’re sleeping. But I could live without it. It was the going nowhere I couldn’t handle.
We had mounds of debt to add to our poverty and desperation. We couldn’t buy groceries without credit and didn’t make enough to pay off the credit bills. It happens to the best of us. But after the move, we decided we needed to get serious. One, fine April, in the midst of a bill paying frenzy, I finally had it. I tore open a bill and read that whilst the economy was beginning to tank, the interest rates were going to start soaring. I sighed in irritation and told Jesus that I promised I would live without credit cards if he would just help us. (Can you say, Let’s make a Deal!) I know you can’t honestly make deals with God, but I know in my heart that in that moment, Jesus was smiling, knowing full well that he was making a deal with me.
“Give up the false, financial security and I will take care of you.”
There are few things scarier than truly accepting Jesus’ help. But we had nowhere else to go? We had nothing left. Period. So I accepted on behalf of both of us (laugh now!), scissors in my right hand, credit cards in my left. It wasn’t a good feeling, but it was the right decision. No more financial security (or insecurity for that matter), and no more back up plan.
For years, we’ve been paying off debts, shredding credit card offers, and trying to explain to credit card companies, family, and friends why we do not spend money we do not have. No more loans, no more interest; frozen accounts, monthly bills, and payment agreements have been our life. We live on a budget.
So let me repeat, for posterity’s sake (and everyone else’s, too): Enter Jesus.
Oh, that amazing, all powerful, doesn’t need my money, Jesus. He never fails anything or anyone.
It’s 2013 and I can almost taste the glorious freedom, white knuckling the last moments of this chapter of our lives before the next, debt free one begins. Why? I’ll tell you. From the moment we chopped up those cards and said, “Okay”, it’s been an in the dark roller coaster, never knowing what will happen next –a full on Disneyland Space Mountain ride, but without all the cool lights and sound effects, or the safety harnesses…. In it all, God has provided. He’s paid our bills when we had nothing, fed us when we were hungry, and clothed us when we were naked. The Lord has given us more than we needed in order to show us that we were (and are) less than capable without him. He has blessed us through family and friends, offering not only the things we need, but fulfilling even impractical desires and wants to feed our imaginations and our human happiness.
I can’t say that each and every day I am grateful, because, to be perfectly honest, some days I’m not. It all sounds great on paper. But this is one of those ugly life lessons that hurts like nothing I’ve ever experienced before, as God masterfully chips away at the exterior so he can polish the gem that’s somewhere DEEP inside. However, I can say that my perspective has changed, and now, because of Jesus, I can see through the smoke screen of security the world pretends to offer. Super villain, I have found your kryptonite!
What happens next? Where does the story lead? I have no earthly idea. In fact, at this moment, I have very little to show for my life… except the ever present, blessed rainfall from heaven reminding me of the fact that when the story of this life reached a make it or break it point, Jesus Entered In.
Philippians 4:19 And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.
Food for thought: Where has Jesus Entered In to your story? Is there something he’s been asking you to let go of, big or small, so that he can provide for you?