Friday, October 10, 2014

Trusting God with our dreams AND our finances: God's 'how' with our 'what'

On Sunday, our church had a message on finances, and I was struck by one comment in particular: finances fall under the law of sowing and reaping.

You see, we make financial choices today, good or bad, but we may not feel those effects for years to come. I've been thinking about that. We are pretty budget-conscious when it comes to our finances. We tithe, give, and save from 30% of our budget, and we try to pay our bills and live on 70%. We're not perfect, and we're not debt-free, but this practice has worked pretty well for us. 

There are days, however, when it's so tempting to think, man, if we could just use this for this, then we could have X outcome, maybe pay off X amount of debt; man, if we could just have a little more here and there, we would be set!

And that's the danger. Not the planning, the budgeting, certainly not the savings--but the mentality that if we can get to X place, we will be worry-free, our future secure. 

The danger lies in who controls your finances, in where you place your trust, in how you lean when uncertainty arises. 

The danger is forgetting that all we have is His. 

In our culture today, we like the law of immediacy, the law of "I snap, and it's done." And we look around to see where everyone else is in comparison to where we are. There's a reason keeping up with the Joneses is still a thing. 

But it's such a trap, with no long-term reward. 

I've been reading Psalm 37, and David describes two time frames: the right now and the future. Over and over, he is saying, now, it looks like this, but then, it will look like that

What does the future look like for the righteous man*? His righteousness will be brought forth (v. 6); he will inherit the land (vs., 9, 11, 22, 29, 34); he will have abundant peace (v. 11); he has a heritage that lasts forever (v. 18); he has abundance in the days of famine (v. 19); he is generous (now and then) (v. 21); he is not forsaken; his children are taken care of and are a blessing to him (v. 25 - 26); he is preserved (v. 28), not abandoned (v. 33), defended (v. 33). 

What an incredible list of promises! But it's a future list, not a present-day list. It's about sowing today for a harvest tomorrow. 

So what does the righteous man sow today? 
  • He trusts in the Lord (v. 3, 5)
  • He does good (v. 3)
  • He delights in the Lord (v. 4)
  • He commits his ways to the Lord (v. 5)
  • He is still before the Lord (v. 7)
  • He waits for the Lord (v. 7, 9)
  • And he gives generously (v. 21)
That last bullet is not an accident. The big idea of last Sunday's message was that we cannot follow Jesus if we are out of balance with our finances. The righteous man in Psalm 37 is a faithful, patient, surrendered servant of the Lord. He does not compare himself to others (v. 7). He is not worried about the Joneses. 

He keeps his eyes on God, and he continues on the path before him. 

We've been reading The Circle Maker by Mark Batterson, and we have been dreaming some pretty big dreams, asking God for the impossible, the unlikely, circling desires we only whispered about as silly pillow-talk before bed. 

Big prayers don't scare God. They scare us because it's not the what but the how: how could we do that? 

And when it comes to the how, it often returns to money. That's why I think Sunday's message was so timely. Finances operate under the law of sowing and reaping. You know what? So does prayer. We sow prayers today that may not be answered for 5, 10, 15, 20 years. 

The how is God's place of miracles; the what is our heart of dreams. 

The what puts us on a path... 

Sometimes, we forget that we are 28 years old. It's okay that our savings isn't overflowing with tens of thousands of dollars (or even the Ramsey recommended 3-times your monthly expenses!). It's okay that our kids' college funds aren't fully funded (yeah, we don't have any kids yet; I think we've still got time!). And it's okay that our combined retirement funds don't even equal one-third of what we make in a given year. 

God's got all the time in the world. 

Our job is to dream big, pray big, and say yes when He asks. May we be patient, trusting, giving servants today! 

*If you're a woman and the list of 'man promises' here is hard for you, I always insert she when I read (i.e. She will inherit the land; she will have abundant peace, etc.). God's kingdom is full of righteous men and women. :)