While I was unemployed (through 2008 and much of 2007) I was at once panicked and unaffected about money concerns. Either I was too dumb to know to be worried, or too confident that I would be okay.
To be honest, I had a few thousand dollars in savings to live on - but let's be real here - $2,000 or $3,000 doesn't last 14 months. Not with a mortgage to pay each month.
Still every month I was able to make that mortgage payment, and buy groceries, and put gas in my car. Every. Month.
My friends thought I was some sort of genius with money - but if you really know me - you know that sure ain't true! Every month, I would look at my bank balance and PRAISE GOD. It was SO God providing for me. No other way to explain it.
When, after all those months I was finally in contention for a real job - I prayed and prayed. If you remember, I was one of three candidates that they took 3 weeks to decide between. I told the Lord that I recognized that I did all I could do. I'm qualified, I interviewed, and they are seriously considering me. It's out of my hands God, it's in Your hands. You know if this is the right job for me - so I will trust when I hear the news - whether I get it or don't get it - that it is Your plan.
After seeing God miraculously provide for me all that time, I was shamed into recognizing that I never, never in all my adult years took Tithing seriously.
A journalism degree does not beget loads of money. It doesn't even beget a sufficient living wage.
I always rationalized that I couldn't give up 10% of my income because I had to eat. Until recently I never put money in a 401k - not even when there was a 50% match - because I couldn't trust that I could get by with what would be left. And to be honest, things were always tight. I would borrow $100 or $200 bucks here and there from my parents just to maintain my car or pay my rent. No way could I put $100 bucks in the collection basket at church.
But I had 14 months to witness God providing for me and I promised Him, when I got a job I would give Him back 10%. It's definitely time.
Well, funds were low those first few months of employment. It took a few weeks to even get my first paycheck, then there was Christmas and traveling home. Funds were mysteriously thinner than when I was unemployed.
So January was my first month putting 10% in the basket.
I'll admit it was hard to write that check. I prayed over it, and I told God, "Seriously, this isn't easy." It was hard right up until I dropped that envelope in the basket.
Outside of insurance, mortgage payments and other bills, I NEVER drop that amount on anything.
I get paid this week, and this is the paycheck from which I write my Tithing contribution.
At the same time, I'm thinking about that plane ticket home for my niece's (The Champ) graduation in May. The rental car I'll need to drive the three hours from the airport to my hometown. My share of the laptop computer we plan to give her for college. I'm thinking about the tires I need on my car. The driver's side window that needs repairing. The credit card that paid for groceries some weeks. I'm thinking how much easier it will be to handle all that if I don't write the Tithing check each month. I think about how smart it would be to save all that money considering the economic crisis.
But then I think about how my job with the City is up for review in March. They could reduce my hours. They might cut my job. (although it's doubtful, they needed to hire three positions but only filled mine) Then I think about how God provides. And I think, probably wrongly, that if I commit to this 10% - maybe it's like insurance. God promises that what we give up will be returned threefold. Maybe God will bless me by insuring that the City doesn't cut my job despite the $56 million budget shortfall.
I have to write that check. But does it count if I do it begrudgingly? Maybe there is a grace period for getting used to Tithing.
Bloggy friends, please tell me how you do it! Inspire me. I beg you.
Then today, I am rattled to the core.
One of my favorite bloggy reads is Amy Beth at Ministry So Fabulous. She is just a young pup - 25 I think - and she has started a Ministry for young girls and teenagers. She was inspired to do this when she was in college - and now this young, beautiful woman is knee deep in an incredible ministry, teaching young women to love and trust God. Her ministry isn't glamorous. Dealing with young women, young girls she really gets her hands dirty with broken hearts, emotional and sexual abuse. This is a woman who I'm betting - is on dozens of young women's speed dial - she's a first responder when tragedy lands them in the hospital. Those girls NEED her. She is their witness to God's saving grace.
Her ministry runs on donations, and lately donors have been writing smaller checks, or pulling out all together. Today Starlite's biggest donor did just that. Dear Sweet Amy Beth is devastated and praying for God to provide.
And I'm wondering if my Tithing check should go to Starlite this month.
My church parish is on the wealthy side. They'll make it without my money.
Tonight I'm praying for God to give me some sign.
I'm also hoping Amy Beth puts together a button that I can link on my blog - so that if any of you are inspired to help her ministry - you might be compelled to do so.
She's so amazing and such a beautiful soldier for Christ - I want to see her ministry go national someday. She can't stop now.