Thursday, June 9, 2016

What if Money isn't the Answer?

Better is the little of the righteous [who seek the will of God] Than the abundance (riches) of many wicked (godless). Psalm 37:16
Better is a little with the [reverent, worshipful] fear of the Lord Than great treasure and trouble with it. Proverbs 15:16
It is better to live in a corner of the housetop [on the flat roof, exposed to the weather] Than in a house shared with a quarrelsome (contentious) woman. Proverbs 21:9
There's a dozen more scriptures about this, but I think y'all get the point.  
I've had some interesting conversations in the last few years. Some, with some of the wealthiest people I've ever known. Some, with the most at-peace people I've ever known. Notice those groups were separate? So did I.

There was a time where I was convinced that if my husband and I had plenty of money to do whatever we wanted, that maybe we would have more peace. Then I met a couple who literally made millions of dollars a year. Legit rich. Nice people, really. But trying to relate to them was a little like imagining life on the moon. I admit, I was so jealous. They didn't worry about money - ever. They didn't panic when the electric bill was twice what it was the month before. They didn't bring a calculator to the grocery store.

But it occurred to me after only a five minute conversation with them: they will never have what I have. 

For the holidays, family usually comes over, and I cook a big dinner. Knowing that I'm doing all the cooking, the "Moms" as I called them, would help out financially, and I did all the work. We'd eat, laugh, play a game, watch the dogs play, eat again, and laugh and laugh and laugh. Holidays were meant for family for us. Now, it's all about making great memories with our kids. Even if we don't have a lot to spend on them, they get to do cool stuff like look at Christmas lights and drink hot cider. It's a fun, fun time.

For my uber-rich friends? They all have a feast of only the best food, prepared by someone else, and the spread is fantastic. But they eat in silence. And then everyone goes to a different room in their million square foot home and watches TV alone. Or they go shopping. Or to the casino. It's an hour of the most awkward conversations ever.

I'm sorry. But that sucks.

I'll take my husband and I eating tuna fish at a card table for the rest of our lives before we live like that. What good is it if we gain the whole world, but we lose our very souls? (Mark 8:36)

Now, I am a firm believer that God wants us to have BOTH. He never wants us to worry about money, but I love what John writes.

Beloved, I pray that in every way you may succeed and prosper and be in good health [physically], just as [I know] your soul prospers [spiritually].

For me, it was all about "getting there." Getting more money, convinced that if I knew everything was paid, etc that I could finally focus on God and worshiping Him. I would be in praise and worship at church, doing the math in my head about what we had in our checking account verses bills that were coming up and how they were going to be paid (just being real here) if we were in the positive and all of our utilities were paid, God was a good God. If I was terrified because of how overdrawn we were, and had no idea how we'd even get gas that week, it was impossible to focus on anything but my need.

But that's not how this works. That's not how any of this works! God's prosperity works differently. He brings true riches, and adds no sorrow to them. (Proverbs 10:22) His game plan is to build in us the muscle and bones of our character to withstand the weight of wealth. If we didn't have the strength of character to carry our wealth, it could crush us.

I know it's hard not to worry about bills, but please don't make the same mistakes I did. Don't let worry take the place of worship. Adam and Eve lived in a perfect world: no sin, no suffering, no poverty, no sickness, no bills. They still made some terrible decisions, and it cost them everything. We can't assume that if our situation is better, that our decisions will be better. We can't assume that if we had something else, that our problems would go away.

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