$3.80 and the Goodness of God

I was working on my budget on Friday when I came up short. Exactly $6.60 was missing. I was baffled, because I could not account for that extra $6.60-expenditure anywhere. Even after I added in the missing A&W receipt (which I had to calculate the price of using nothing but all my other receipts and change – thank goodness I save all the change rather than reusing it), even after I included that it still wouldn’t balance, but now I had exactly $3.80 extra. I tried to reconcile that number; it just didn’t make sense – it’s just too small a number to be a mix-up in bi-monthly grocery receipts. Finally I just sat back, completely confounded. And then I thought of something.

What if God gave me $3.80–just to mess up my budget so much that I would never be able to explain it any other way?

Of course, my inner-cynic went wild at that–

“God wouldn’t do that, especially not to you,”
“You probably just missed it in your calculations, you should do them again,”
“That’s a dumb idea, why would God do that?”

But I looked back over all my figures and $3.80 just didn’t fit anywhere. It couldn’t be in the cash since there’s nothing smaller than a $5 bill there, it couldn’t be in the change jar because I’d already calculated out the change to get the exact price on the missing A&W receipt, and it certainly couldn’t be in the bank because I can look back on the account for as long as I’ve had it and see that everything is accounted for. Everything is accounted for and I still have $3.80 more than I should. What’s going on?

So despite my inner-cynic, I dropped an extra $3.80 into an empty income field on my budget. And I laughed.

Why? Because even if it’s just $3.80, it’s $3.80 more than I had at the beginning of the month, and God was there in that moment saying, “Look son, I’m taking care of your finances, and the more you entrust to me, the more I will entrust to you.”

Someone said recently about tithing, “You can live better off 90% than off 100%”, and I can testify to that. Yes, I “tithe”. It’s not 10%, it’s actually a little more (I haven’t done any precise calculations, I just set aside so much). Last month I got a rather large bill in the mail, but in spite of all the expenses, I still somehow had $200 left over which I took to the grocery store for a good restocking of my shelves. Between tax returns, free groceries and money multiplying to meet every need, I have more than enough on my eighty-something-percent. And I can’t help but see the providence of God for a cheerful giver living with open hands rather than clenched fists.

Because I believe God rewards the good steward, and entrusts more to him. And I continue to be amazed by even the smallest show of His goodness–even if it’s “only” $3.80.

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Love Notes from Faithful and True

Being yet rather encumbered several years back by a debilitating inability to cook, I one day had made myself a rice casserole. Back then–those were the dark ages–if I had to cook for myself, it was pretty basic, and I held primarily to those staples I could actually make something of, being rice, potatoes and pasta. Needless to say, most meals weren’t too exciting.

Anyway. I had gotten rice pretty well down to a science and after devouring half the pan I reasoned that I would have eating for another meal–hurrah! The next day I spread the rice back out in the dish and put it back in the oven. Once it was heated I commenced to eat the other half of the casserole, roughly the same amount as the day before.

And when I was finished, there was half a pan of casserole left.

In fact, from taking the pan out in the first place I’d noticed a general full-ness going on in my meager lunch plans. So I said–paraphrasing–“Thank-you Jesus for more than enough,” and went on to eat my fill. The day after that I had my third meal of rice casserole.

Yeah, so God might’ve just multiplied my least favorite food.

That’s just the trivial part of the story. I just happened to throw up a comment to my Facebook profile saying something along the lines of “God just multiplied my rice”. It might’ve been more in-depth than that, but you’ve already got the gist.

Someone whom I had respected and looked up to for some time (who will of course, also remain nameless) commented on my post and basically discredited the whole thing with an attempt at a natural explanation. I immediately felt about 2o founds lighter as I heard my respect hit the floor.

Bam.

So that’s what you think of the goodness of God.

I wasn’t devastated. I knew not to put infallible stock into a person. But I was surprised and my eyes were opened; previously if anything I would have expected some positive affirmation from this person in particular. But now I realized something: faith bigger than a mustard seed misses God’s romantic subtleties.

Let me explain why I use this expression.

I looked up to this person because I perceived that they had a lot of faith–and I still believe that they did. They’d been into God’s presence and seen some mighty things–movements of the Spirit, healing, hearts changed.

But where there is no doubt, where there is no weakness, where there are no visible cracks, there is that much less room for the goodness of God to be manifest fully.

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that we shouldn’t desire faith, strength, or even perfection. I’m not condoning the idea that being under grace, we should sin to increase the power of God. That’s not what I’m getting at.

What I mean is simply this: God spoke to me in a little thing. He wrote a love note to me in rice and veggies and signed it with a wink because just maybe He saw the humor and the irony in me eating rice for three days instead of two, and challenged me to accept His goodness as it comes new every day.

And the miracle was passed over by this one who was more interested in moving mountains. But what they never knew was that it was more than just a little extra rice for another day, it was God showing up in the white noise of my doubts.

I don’t look at people the same way any more. I don’t look up so much to those people that are on the “cutting edge” of Spiritual moves of God. I look at people who hear God in the silent moments, in the small things. I look at the man who said “Lord, I believe; help now my unbelief!” and the man who said “Lord, forgive me, I’m a sinner.” when the “leaders” around him waere standing tall to boast of what they had accomplished for God, to boast in what they were and what they were not. Those Pharisees missed Jesus in the minute things, in the sparrows and the lilies of the field dressed more radiantly than King Solomon. And it seems to me, that people missed when Jesus said “God blesses those who are poor and realize their need for him, for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs.” for a meal for 5,000 from five loaves and two fish.

Democracy Is un-Christian

First of all, I’m still alive! I haven’t died, and I’ll live to write another day.

Second of all, don’t bite my head off immediately for being a conspiracy theorist; I’m not.

 

Democracy is all about always doing what is in the interest of all (or the highest percentage) of the people. “The People”. Important people make decisions, less important people vote. And at first, it almost seems like the system might work–in a perfect world? But God is not a democracy, and the government of God is not one of democracy but of autocracy–absolute monarchy. What does that mean? It means that God is allowed His all-powerful, all-knowing, all-present place of authority as God.

I’ve learned this lesson well this week, because I’ve been striving to have my own little democracy, and that is not the way God wants it. God wants my absolute trust in the wisdom of His decisions for me, in His providence and protection for me, and in His shepherding of me.

And when it comes down to it, His word is the authority. Not only His written word, but His spoken word–the words of His spirit living in us.

But–but–but…”

Absolute authority.

Think about that. Does it make you uncomfortable? Did you think giving your life to God meant you could continue doing whatever you want? To a point – a king’s subjects go about their own lives. But at the end of the day, they do His bidding, and answer to Him. And in this kingdom, there is one governing law which the King has declared: “Love as I have loved.” No longer is there any room for democracy with God; Following Christ means  surrendering your will in the knowledge that God is 100% capable to govern your life. And should we fear that God will get it wrong? That He won’t really know what we need before we ask? No! He knows exactly what we need, exactly when we need, and exactly how best to give to us what we need. And according to Romans 8:28 and Jeremiah 29:11, He has only the best planned for us. One God, One People. And why not live without a single worry? Why not rest assured in God? Seated at the right hand of God is the Prince of Peace!

And may all the strength of the King be in your heart to do all that He commands; His yoke is easy, and His burden is not troublesome.