This is the last post in a series about Trusting God. It will be helpful to read Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3 before continuing with this post.
The 90-day trust challenge ended at the beginning of the month. And, I've neglected writing about it because... well... I guess I expected it to end with more of a bang than a whimper. It's hard to write about a whimper, I guess. Plus, I imagine what I have to say can be interpreted differently by non-believers, so there's a little bit of "why bother?" in my attitude right now. But, to be a "witness," you just have to tell your story and let God effect the listeners ears and hearts.
That's not to say, I didn't learn anything or there are no lessons to be learned. I guess I was just expecting to feel more spiritual or something at the end. Like, closer than I am right now to God.
I don't feel closer to God right now and in fact I feel further apart than I have in a while. I'm not in a crisis of faith or anything, but man, it's really hard to want to fast once a week and talk to God daily. To paint a picture, if I'm walking on the Christian path, I feel like I've taken two steps forward and one step back. In talking with a friend, that's actually kinda normal to feel like that on this journey. In fact, I feel like I'm on the verge of taking two or three steps forward. So, it's cyclindrical.
Anyway, let us count all the ways God came through for me during the 90 days. Well, he showed me that, despite not seeing how it was possible on paper, I could live on 90% of my income. I'm happy to report the bills were paid as normal and on-time. Even though, I always felt short by how much my tithe is (give or take a few bucks), when it was time to pay the bills, the money was there. God came through for me there in the form of extra freelance gigs, some dog watching. He provided ways for me to earn what I needed to survive. And by my measuring stick (Proverbs 30:8-9), He came through.
Let's see, what else? Well, we have a cat. And though some would say cats are from the devil, and Cap'n Jack sure makes that case, he does provide us with joy and love. We were never hungry, not late on paying bills, have a roof over our heads. What else do we need? We got friends, we got family. What about the little things?
The little things... We needed the oil in our cars changed but didn't have money for that. Then, we got coupons from an auto shop offering free oil changes to new customers. The apartment lease thing seems to (*knock on wood*) have gone away, though that one could pop up at anytime. Yeah, I should have written every little tiny thing down 'cause there are more but I can't remember them all at this moment.
But perhaps, that's the not point. Perhaps, we should look at the results in terms of lessons learned. Perhaps, we should look what "What did God teach me?" Well, that's easier. I learned that it's not what's on paper, but what's in your heart. I never could see how we would pull off the 90-days, but we did. We survived it. I put my trust in God to provide, and despite what my human eyes and ears were telling me, He did just that. He passed the test. No, that's not right. I think I passed the test.
Now, over the summer, all three of us had various medical issues pop up. The wife and I both had expensive dental work done. And when I say expensive, I mean we have insurance and still owe the dentist around about $800. Not to mention, the wife's physical therapy bill. And the kid, well, he's got a sewing needle in his hip. (*waits for the double take*) Yes, I said a sewing needle stuck in his hip. He is fine. I'll explain that one another day. But, we're planning on having it surgically removed later this year. But, all of that is budgeted for and we're chipping away at that debt without it overwhelming us.
And here is where the chink in the armor comes in. While I have clearly shown to myself that I can tithe and survive, I'm not continuing to give my tithe at this time. I know I've said I've learned to trust God with this. And maybe, I should continue, and this probably doesn't make sense to anyone else but me. But, I believe what God was telling me over the summer was that He can be trusted but I have to come to Him in my own time. I may not be tithing (which is argueably the most difficult act of trusting God) right now, but I can still develop spiritually in other ways while I walk the path.
Through this all, God has shown me what kind of commitment to our relationship He is asking me to make. And, I think He's giving me time to think about what I want our relationship to be. The 90-day trust challenge has offered me a much needed glimpse of God's grace, love and mercy and the sacrifices I need to make.
In truth, I do not doubt that it'll be long before I'm regularly tithing again. I've shown that it can be done. But, with one more car payment to make, our budget is about to open up. And, that means we'll be able to more aggressively take care of our debts and afford to buy things the help our future (like a new computer that doesn't run on Win98). Furthermore, I have no doubts that God will continue to provide for me as long as I remain faithful to him. It's not that I'm putting materialist ideals ahead of godly ones. In fact, what I'm trying to do settle the debts I created in my old life. And, God is giving me the space I need to do just that. With my old debts gone, I'll be able to take bigger steps toward God. Afterall, it's a walk, a journey on the path - not a sprint.