Building Memorials

joeri-romer-169-unsplashSome years ago, my husband and I were part of a group that met every other week to support each other in our spiritual walks, to study the Bible and to discuss religion, beliefs and our struggles. We were a covenant group, and much of where our ministry is today grew out of those years of close relationship with people we know God chose to be part of one another’s lives.

Ben, one of our group, once spoke about the importance of establishing memorials. He pointed out that in Scripture, people often set a stone where something important had happened in their lives–like Jacob in the spot where he saw angels climbing to heaven. That idea made an impression on me, and it came to mind again this week.

I often write here about money. That’s a bald statement of fact, and honestly, it’s not surprising; part of the ministry God has called us to is about walking in the way of His provision, learning reliance on Him and trusting that He will provide. I’m real good about writing out the feelings of worry and anxiety over money, mostly because my default when I’m struggling is to write about it. But I haven’t been so great about writing the other side.

This, then, is my memorial, my monument to the amazing, awesome and extraordinary ways God provides for us. I need to write this, much the same way as we should build memorials–because there will come a time when I might forget, and I can look back to be reminded that God is real, He is for us and He wants all the best for us.

God has always provided for us, but we haven’t always been paying attention–nor have we always been necessarily wise with what He has given. My husband and I both came into marriage over three decades ago with money hangups and misconceptions, the way many young couples do. It has taken years to cope with that and to understand the nature of God’s economy.

The first time I had an encounter with God’s supernatural way of providing was years ago in New Jersey. To help supplement our income, I was providing childcare to my dear friend, who not only paid me but also gave me a sweet gift at the end of each week. Talk about feeling appreciated! One week, it happened to be a Target gift card, and the amount was for $25. It was a timely gift, as we had made plans to make an overnight trip to Gettysburg, and although I was pretty sure I could eek out gas money and we had a free hotel room, I knew buying food was going to be a challenge. Not only that–one of the kids needed a new pair of play shoes.

The day before we were supposed to leave, I went to Target with my gift card to buy what we needed. I had some money in my account, but it was supposed to be for groceries the following week. Still, I knew I might have to rob Peter to pay Paul for a short term. I got what we needed for our trip–and the total was a little over double the amount of my gift card. Taking a deep breath, I handed the gift card to the cashier and then waited for the new total.

“You’re all set,” she announced, handing me the receipt and the card. “And you still have $10 on this card.”

Confused, I sputtered, “It was only for $25.”

The clerk checked again. “Nope, that covered your total amount and you still have money on the card. Have a nice day.”

I was flabbergasted. When I got home, I questioned my friend about the amount, and she was adamant that it was only $25. She gave me the receipt to show me.

Were we starving that day? Was this a make-or-break situation? No . . . but still, thirteen years later, I remember it. I believe that day was a step on the path in which God was leading us, a way to show us that God cares about every part of our lives.

It wasn’t the only example, but I want to share a few more recent occurrences.

Fast forward to this past February. Book sales had dropped, and so had donations to the ministry. We’d had some unexpected expenses. I had some bills looming, and I didn’t know how we were going to pay them. All of my royalties had already hit for the month. I was at an author event, and I knew once I got home, I was going to have to make some hard decisions.

I stopped at our PO box on the way home from the event. I didn’t expect anything but bills and junk mail. But there were two envelopes I didn’t recognize. One was from the Honest Company, and it contained a check for $10, part of the settlement in a recent class action suit. I sighed and thought that at least $10 was better than a bill.

The other envelope was also about a class action suit, and I frowned as I tore it open. The letter indicated that this was something about medication my husband used to take–expensive meds–and when I glanced down the sheet of paper, my breath caught.

It was a check for a little over $2,000.

I leaned over on the table there in the post office and cried. God is so good. He. Does. Provide.

That check didn’t solve our budget issues–but it got us through that month and the start of the next one. The totally unexpected check I got a few weeks back that allowed me to pay bills for the beginning of June didn’t solve everything either–but again, it was enough for what we needed then.

At one point in the past year, my husband noted that he’d thought once we committed our way and our path to God, He would make sure we had plenty–that we’d get some kind of large stipend to help supplement our ministry and household costs, since we were giving everything to Him.

That hasn’t happened, and I think I know why. If God had given us a $10,000 grant to help fund our costs, even if we didn’t mean to, we’d begin relying on that fund instead of on God. That would become our idol, our safety net. Instead, He is constantly and continually turning our eyes to Him. He wants us to be child-like in our trust and faith, to know that He is the author of all, and self-reliance is not part of His plan.

I’ve written before that we as a people have built safety nets into our lives and called them by names like life insurance and pension plans and savings accounts. These things are not evil, of course, but they can be hindrances to our spiritual life if we make them idols, if we trust them more than we trust the Almighty. And although I don’t have any of those things in my life now, I’m not pointing fingers, believe me; I am all too prone to slide backwards into depending on something other than God.

That’s why these memorial reminders are so crucial.

If there is one overarching lesson I’ve learned in the past eighteen months, it’s that God is More. He is more than any box we humans try to construct around Him. He delights in surprising us, and He loves nothing more than to bless us in ways we would never expect. The most dangerous thing in the world is to believe we have a handle on God; when we do that, He will almost without fail do something extraordinary.

Last night, we went to see The Incredibles 2, and I was reminded of a scene from the first movie. Mr. Incredible, who is keeping his super abilities undercover, is in his driveway and turns to see a little boy on a tricycle, staring at him.

Mr. Incredible says, “What are you waiting for?”

The boy replies, “I don’t know Something amazing, I guess.”

That should be us. We should be a people of bated breath, waiting for the next time God acts, in total trust that what He does will be More. It will be incredible. It will be amazing.

I’m trying to remember to be filled with hope and expectation. I hope you will be, too.

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