Sunday, August 5, 2012

God's Math

I grew up tithing all the money I got. When I was little and got 50 cents for an allowance, a nickel went into my Sunday School offering. Tithing was just something you did, no questions asked. Christmas money, allowance, job money, whatever it was, 10% went to church. When I got to college, I stopped having steady income. I didn't work my first few semesters of college, and I didn't have a church home. So the tithing stopped.

I started tithing again after college. I actually hadn't found a church yet, but I was out of a job and money was tight, and I just remembered all I had been taught about money and how it was God's in the first place, so I gave to various charities. Once I found Substance (my current church which I love dearly), I began tithing there. One summer we had a sermon series call The Blessed Life, and I felt like 10% was great, but that was a baseline, and I wanted to do more than the minimum, so I upped my regular giving.

Money is something that can bring up all sorts of feelings in people. Talking about it in church can be really uncomfortable. It's rather taboo to talk about how much money you make, or to mention how much something expensive cost (totally OK to talk about what a bargain you scored, though). I most often refer to money in a "I'm broke until my next paycheck" sort of way.

Over the past few years, I've have ups and downs financially. I've tried to budget, I've saved money, I've spent money. I actually gave up on a formal budget because I could never make the numbers work. I'm moving at the end of the month, and as I was searching for an apartment, I was worried about money. My car broke down, and I had to spend some money to get it fixed. I didn't have enough money saved to for a deposit, but I had to find a place to live. I looked at my income, I looked at when bills were due, and I just couldn't figure out how I would have enough to pay for a deposit. The week I put my cash savings into my checking account so I could send in my deposit I was entirely unsure how I was going to pay for food and gas the next few weeks. But I trusted God. I did my best not to worry, and I read passages in the Bible like Matthew 6 where Jesus talks about not worrying because God knows our needs and cares about us.

Money is still tight. I don't make a lot of money, and I have a small amount of debt that's taking me awhile to pay off (student loans and hospital bills). But it works out. I re-looked at my bill due dates and when my paydays were, and it worked. As of this blog I have around 50 cents in my checking account, and I will get paid tomorrow and be able to pay all the bills that are due. At Substance we talk about how tithing is the believe that when we give God 10%, he enables us to do more with 90% than we would have been able to do with all 100%. I thought about not tithing even one paycheck, because that would have really eased the strain. But I held fast to the promise that God knows my needs. I honestly can't explain how it all worked out. I'm really good at math, so it's not like I added things wrong the first time. I didn't suddenly receive money from a relative or friend. It just worked out.

Today Pastor Bart shared about how there is a difference between head knowledge and experiential knowledge. You can know in your head that God provides, but when you start to experience it you gain confidence. I have been through bouts of unemployment. I have had car repairs pop up. I have given large sums of money away outside of my regular giving. And God has always provided. When my car broke down and God provided someone to fix it, that gave me confidence that he would also provide a great apartment in my price range. And the apartment I found is actually less per month than what I've been paying, and the apartment is bigger.

There are some things I just can't explain. All I know is that God really does provide.