Financial stress seems to be all too common these days. Many of us face financial struggles and I don't believe that any amount of income can make us exempt from those. Ryan and I have faced many battles and we've learned so much through each victory. Giving the struggle to God, placing the battle in His hands, that brings us to victory. Nothing is impossible with Him.
This is not a bragging or boasting session and neither do I want sympathy or pity. I want to just be completely authentic with you in hopes that this story inspires you. The one thing Ryan and I have never struggled with or even fought about is giving. It's never a question. We always give whatever we feel called to. I'm not going to get in to whether we're tithing ten percent or where our money goes, that's not the point. The point is the heart you give with. Are you making it unconditional? Are you giving without expecting anything in return? One of the hardest things about giving can be letting go of control. We have to realize that we are just simple called to give. Whatever happens with money after that is not our responsibility and not our judgement. There is peace in trusting that God's going to take care of it in some way or another. We have to remember that the giving comes first. I don't believe we're called to just give whatever is left at the end of the month. God gave us the ultimate gift. The gift of salvation. He gave us everything, so why would we hold back anything? It can be hard to swallow, but the money is never really ours. God gives us a job and the ability to work, so it really all begins with Him.
I say all this to tell you a story.
My grandmother has given me a one-hundred dollar bill for Christmas for many years. It's a brand new crisp bill and the bank puts it in a special Christmas envelope on which she always writes in cursive "Love, Granny". A few Christmases ago was no different. I unwrapped the $100 bill, took it home, and life went on. No matter my intentions of spending it right away, it didn't happen. But that was a blessing in disguise. A few months later Ryan and I hit financial struggle. It was one of those times when you have too much month at the end of your money, you know what I'm talking about, right?
It's in those moments when we start crunching numbers and cutting back on everything we possibly can. Now, we weren't going to go broke, because we do keep a special savings account, but I like to think of it as untouchable or a last resort. We both prayed for some answers, prayed that we would find some way to make it work. A few days later I found the $100 bill my granny had given me at Christmas. I immediately felt a huge sense of relief. We thanked God for it, paid the bills, and life went on.
The same thing happened again a few months later. We hit financial struggle. We prayed. We found the $100 bill, still in the Christmas envelope. I laughed and told Ryan that I honestly thought we had already spent it, but yet there it was. So we thanked God, paid the bills, and life went on.
Several more months went by. We hit a financial crunch again. It sounds terrible and you would think we're bad at budgeting or something, but it just happens. We tend to be overly optimistic about taking on projects and making updates to our house. I think this particular time we had built a pathway in the backyard and it turns out flagstone is much more expensive than either of us anticipated. So here we were again, too much month at the end our money. We prayed about it again, but this time it was different. I felt a little silly asking God for financial help yet again. Like, whoops, we ended up here again, so....um....help? But at the same time I didn't feel the same amount of stress. He had pulled us out of this before and I had more than enough faith that He would do it again.
A few days went on and I was cleaning out and sorting through some wire bins we keep on the wall for organizing mail and other things we don't want to lose. The bottom bin usually collects keepsakes like greeting cards and the like. I froze in disbelief when I saw it. I slowly opened up the Christmas envelope, hesitant to believe the $100 bill would actually still be inside. But there it was. A crisp, $100 bill tucked nicely inside of a Christmas envelope from the bank with "Love, Granny" written in cursive under the flap. I could feel the tightness in my heart and my eyes began to tear up. I called Ryan over and an awestruck smile swept across his face when he saw what I was holding. God had provided once again.
I can't tell you for sure if the one-hundred dollar bill magically appeared each time that we needed it or if we just never actually spent it after each time it was found. All I can tell you for sure is that when we were in need, God provided. Maybe we never actually spent the $100 all those times before, but we were in financial crisis each time and God saw us through. We found the money and if it was never spent, He still provided us a way to afford all we needed to at that time.
"... Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there,' and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you." Matthew 17:20 NIV