by Wendy Stone
Growing up in a single parent home with very involved grandparents who lived through the Great Depression, I knew the value of a dollar. I started babysitting when I was twelve (for 50 cents an hour) and then got my first "real job" at age 15 in order to help alleviate the financial burden on my mom. I bought my own clothes and any fun, spending money came out of my income along with the money for gas and upkeep on a used car that my uncle gave me. I knew money was tight for my mom, but I never really wanted for anything. There was, however, an unspoken stigma of being from a single parent home and intellectually knowing that life was hard for my mom. My physical needs were met, but I still had the mindset of lack. This poverty mindset carried over into my adulthood. From the fall of 1985 to the fall of 1988, Justin (my husband) and I became the parents of three beautiful girls. Necessity dictated that we were to be a two-income family. Justin taught music for the Dallas Public School District during the day, and I worked as a singing waitress at night for the first 8-10 years of our marriage. We were immensely blessed not to have to put the girls in child-care. Even without regular childcare expenses, we lived from pay check to pay check with no savings. Being the more detailed-minded personality between me and my husband, I took care of managing the household expenses and paying bills. I felt the weight of trying to make ends meet. Because I was so focused on our lack, I found it hard to give. Being a rule follower, I always tithed to our church, but I cannot say I did it with a cheerful heart. I gave out of compulsion. I lived under the Law. Looking back on those days, I'm embarrassed to admit how self-focused and stingy I was even into the next 10-15 years of our marriage. The gifts that I gave were cheap and given out of obligation instead of from a heart to bless. I gave only the "required" amount when tipping or tithing and often begrudgingly. No matter how stingy I was or how much I scrimped and saved, we just could not seem to get ahead. We were in bondage to poverty because of a poverty mindset. I later learned the truth that our walk directly reflects the way we see ourselves. I saw myself as poor and lacking and thus perpetuated the tangible reality of poverty. God rocked our world when He revealed Himself as our Provider, and we experienced the freedom and abundance of living in dependence on Him. In addition to learning the true nature of God, there was one truth that seemed to break the chains of bondage to my poverty mindset: "You can't out-give God." Oh how true this is! I grieve over the years of anxiety, stress and fear under which we lived when we were trying to meet our needs through our own resources. I ache knowing that God provided for us time after time after time, but I only recognized it for a moment. I did not embrace His eternal faithfulness and trust in His abundant provision for the current or future crises. I now rejoice in the freedom and joy of knowing (experientially) that God is our generously abundant and gracious Provider. Even when, in the natural realm, the numbers just don't add up, God always provides more than we thought or imagined and often in unforeseen and miraculous ways.
I felt led to share this because I know that with the shut down of our economy due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and the racial strife and rioting that is happening, many are hurting financially. My prayer is that in the midst of this crisis, whether financially affected by current circumstances or not, God would reveal Himself to each of us as our Provider - not only of our financial needs but of our EVERY need.
I pray we will come to know the freedom and joy of knowing that we can never out-give God. May we know that He is sovereign over all that is happening in our world, that He is FOR us, and that He has made provision for every difficult circumstance in our lives. Trust, that as a child of God, He is using these difficult times as tools to transform us into the image of His Son. He is not punishing His children trying to bring justice to the wrongs we have committed; Christ took all of God's wrath upon Him on the cross for every past, present and future sin committed. We have only to receive and take ownership of the fullness of His provision through His life of grace, mercy, freedom and victory. In doing so, it doesn't mean we won't face difficulties and trials, but it does mean: In Christ, we are not poor; we are immeasurably rich and every need is met.
Philppians 4:19 In Christ, we are not victims of sin; we are victorious over sin! 1 Corinthians 15:56-57 In Christ, darkness cannot consume us; we are the light of the world.
Matthew 5:14 In Christ, when we are weak, we are strong!
2 Corinthians 12:10 In Christ we are not overcome by the world; we have overcome the world!
1John 5:5 In Christ, we have LIFE!