You might want to read this post before continuing on. It'll provide some background that you may need to completely understand this post. This is part two in a series on Trust in God.
I'm just over a month into the 90-day trust challenge and weirdness is happening. I mean, overall good weird things. When I've gotten paid and sat down to do bills, the first thing I've done is write a check to The Crux for my tithe. Then, I did all my bills and I found that I had extra money left over. Keep in mind that this is the same month that living expenses changed from rent to mortgage with me paying more than $300 than I'm used to for a place to live. That right, all bills paid, including new bills, like water/sewer and garbage, and the higher price of owning a home, and we're not starving. Well, the kid might disagree, but he's a growing teenager and we're not eating McDonald's or pizza every other night. Therefore, he thinks we're starving.
In the beginning of the challenge, I was fasting from 8a-5p a few days a week, reading from the Bible during my lunch hour. I had some freelance camera gigs pop up brought in more money for us to live on. Tithing wasn't a problem. I wrote the first two checks with ease and had even less trouble putting them in the offering basket. All was going well.
Then, I don't know what happened. I reverted to an old habit I've been trying to break myself of. Not sure if it's a sin necessarily, but undoubtedly it leads to that path. And that's why I'm trying to break myself of this habit. I stopped fasting and reading the Bible if for no other reason than people at work wanted to go eat lunch. Over the past two weeks, I haven't been living the Christian life like I know I should.
Freelance gigs got cancelled. The kid and I were parent/teenager fighting more than usual. Work got overwhelming. I did bills the other day and it looks like we might be short for bills by over $125 dollars. And, I got a bill from the old apartment complex saying we owe them for June. A really large bill I cannot afford to pay by the deadline without borrowing money yet again from my folks. They seem to think we didn't give proper written notice and that's whole post for another day.
But, during this time that I haven't been living the way I should, all this kinda bad stuff is happening. Once I realized that I was fucking up, I asked God for forgiveness and prayed that he would continue to provide all that we need.
Since then, I've gotten back to fasting at work. The very first day back, after my lunch hour reading, I discovered I had been offered a freelance gig, with a few offers on the table I'm sorting through. I should find out tomorrow about a promotion I've been seeking at work. There's a very good chance I'll get it. Things are looking better suddenly.
I read from the book of James yesterday this verse stuck out. James 1:2-3 says, "Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perserverance." What I'm taking from that is that this tithe challenge is causing some hardships, but I need to have faith that God is going to take care of me. I'm continuing to let my faith in God grow and that's very important to me.
True, it's an interesting coincidence that the check I just wrote for my tithe is pretty close to the amount of money I seem short right now. And in truth, I haven't put that money in the offering yet. Couldn't get to church on Sunday because of a work function. Which leads to an interesting question: If I write the check and hold on to my tithe until I'm sure I can afford to part with it, then is that really trusting God to provide? I mean, the check is written and I've deducted it from my checking account. As far as the bottom line is concerned, the money's not there, But it is still in my checking account. And, I plan on dropping it off in the offering this Sunday. So, is that really trusting God? I'm not sure.
Regarding sin and temptation, James says in 1:13-14, "When tempted, no one should say, 'God is tempting me.' For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed." That's exactly the trap I've been falling into. The little temptation is both easy to ignore and easy to give into. When you practice the pain of discipline and ignore it, it leads to prosperity. When you give in, you commit a tiny sin that quickly turns into a bigger temptation and leads to bigger and worse sin. It's an easy road to start down, but through proper discipline, the sin can be avoided. And it's so very true that the pain of discipline is much less than the pain of regret.
This whole experiment isn't over, but it's really strange how my "luck" as some might put it ebbs and flows with my Christian (or lack there of) behavior. It'll be very interesting to see where I stand in the next 60 days or so.