I first felt the tug a few years ago. We were living at the farmhouse. Tim was going to school full time, we had two small children, and we were living off of my paycheck. One day while going through our finances, there was one word I couldn’t get out of my head.
I tried to ignore it, push it deep back, but every time my mind would settle on something else, that word would make its way to the forefront once again.
I scoffed at the idea. Didn’t God know that we were a family of four living on one income?? Things were tight, and if we tithed, things would get a lot tighter. I justified my position and moved on. Every once in awhile that word would come back and out of guilt I would tithe a little, and I promised that when we got to a better financial situation, things would change.
When we learned about Baby E, Tim and I talked and decided to put his school on hold and he started working at the shop. I remembered my promise, but soon realized that with the new added expenses of daycare, Tim driving 150 miles each day, and the price of gas (it was nearly double what it is now), that in the end we were pretty much breaking even. Surely God could wait until we were a little better off, right?!? But again, out of guilt, I started tithing more often. But if we missed church one week, or I forgot my check book, I would shrug it off and move on.
After about six months of that, I felt a deep conviction that I knew what I was doing was wrong. God calls us to give Him the first fruits of our labor, and I was handing Him the scraps we had left over, and justifying it as we went along!
So things changed. Instead of figuring out how we were going to tithe, we decide to tithe first and then figure out how to make everything else work. So every week we tithed. If we missed a week or forgot the checkbook, we kept a running total in our heads and handed it in the first chance we could. We’ve spent well over a year doing this and guess what… we’ve been able to pay all of our bills, have plenty of food in our pantry, and clothes for ourselves and our children. God has provided every step of the way!
Fast forward to this past week- enter the blizzard of 2016. Between some sick days and some blizzard days, Tim has missed enough work to make a significant dent in his paycheck and we had some recent unexpected expenditures (doctor visits, medications, etc.) I spent the past few nights laying in bed, following rabbit trails I had no right following, and wondering how we would get through the next few weeks. I reminded myself, it’s not a desperate situation. We aren’t broke. We have savings. I can transfer some money if I need to. Everything will be fine.
A few weeks ago we misplaced our one and only mail key. It’s not a huge deal because we pay all of our bills online so there isn’t usually anything pressing in the mailbox. I kept holding out hope I would find the key, but after weeks of looking, we called the post office and got a replacement key. I was expecting to receive a check in the mail for something and yesterday we finally opened the mailbox. Several weeks worth of mail would have fallen out if it could have, but instead I had to pry it out in piles until my arms were full of catalogues, envelopes and junk mail.
I brought it inside and dumped it on the floor and started the task of sorting it. It didn’t take long to find the check I was looking for, but in the process I kept coming across various envelopes that caught my attention. As I opened them, one by one, they all contained checks… In the end I had six checks, five of which were totally unexpected and when I added them up, they came up to approximately the total of what we had lost from Tim being out of work. I started crying as I saw once again that God had provided before I even knew I needed help. Some of those checks had been sitting in that mailbox for a couple of weeks!
I’m not here to say that God is a genie, or that if you tithe He will magically sprinkle you with unexpected money… What I am here to say is that God calls us to trust Him when He asks us to give. He calls for obedience. And trust that He knows what we need.
Our provision from God isn’t usually a random check in the mail. Often it is a fellow mom that hands me a pair of perfectly good shoes that her kid has outgrown. Or a co-worker of Tim’s that sends home a huge bag of beautiful clothing his daughter can no longer fit. Sometimes it’s going to the grocery store and learning that most of the things on my list are also on sale. It’s a drop in gas prices. Last month it was an unusually warm December that kept our energy usage way down. It’s any and all of these things. It is God working behind the scenes, in the small moments of life, in seemingly insignificant ways that when added together are continued proof of His constant provision for our family.
I hope in reading this story, you do not walk away thinking what good christians we are (because trust me, we have a long way to go,) but rather, what an incredible God we serve. We serve a God that gets involved with the nitty gritty details of our lives, that lives with us in the very trenches of marriage, parenting, jobs, finances, school, and life. He answers prayers we didn’t know we had and provides in ways we didn’t know we needed, and personally, I think that is pretty amazing!