If not to testify to God’s goodness, then why else am I here? The last time I wrote something I shared my faith with you all, despite bleak circumstances. You can read it here if you missed it, but I’ll also give a brief recap. Basically, we decided to take more than a month off from my job to travel home for Christmas. I jokingly called it our sabbatical, but in all honestly, I really felt like it was in a way. I had never felt quite so strong about something as simple as a vacation, but I actually felt led by God to take this time.
It’s funny how the more you place your trust in Jesus, the more He delivers. I didn’t always pray about taking time off or whether I should buy my husband that expensive present, but if I’ve discovered anything over the past couple of years, it’s this.
God wants every part of our lives.
He doesn’t just want Sunday morning or the important, life-altering decisions like where to work or who to marry. He wants it all. The little things, the big things, the seemingly inconsequential. He wants our secrets, our deepest desires, and our hugest regrets. He can work with it all.
Over the years I realized that the more I released to the Lord, the more He took care of for me. It was hard to let some things go, whether I told myself He had enough to worry about without hearing about my insecurities, or whether I held tightly to the things I felt like I needed to control. For me, it was always the bank balance. That was the hardest load not to carry. I assumed it gave me peace and comfort to budget accordingly, but in all reality, it only added to my stress. Bills multiplied, stuff broke, and unexpected illnesses occurred. So, no matter how much I thought I had a handle on my checkbook, it always fell apart. There never seemed to be enough. Can you relate?
I did not tithe! I mean, I gave money to different charities, I supported local and international ministries, frequently, but I always had control of my giving. I gave when I felt like I had enough to give, but when it came to a regular, scheduled “here, God, you take this part right off the top,” I wasn’t good at that. I couldn’t relinquish that control. I knew when I had the money to give!
At the beginning of this year I felt the Lord pricking my heart to release that last bit of my life. I mean, I had already handed Him where we lived. We had been accepting travel positions based on where He led us to go work, and accepted them with a smile. Even if I got floated off my preferred unit at work, I smiled, because I trusted the Lord to give me the patients I needed to see that day. We trusted Him for our health, forgoing traditional health insurance, and instead utilizing a Christian medishare program if needed for medical expenses. I had given Him my fear, my anxiety too, and it was like He was saying, “okay, Brie, it’s time to loosen up the purse strings.”
Y’all, I put it off on my husband. I mean, he was the head of the household after all, and if he said something about tithing regularly, then we’d do it. So far, I controlled the entire budget. I paid the bills. I let him know what the available balance was. He didn’t even know the online banking password! If this guy, who never even thought about due dates and such, said something to me about giving to the church regularly, well, I’d take that as a sign.
You know what God did, right?! Yep, by the end of the week my spouse came out of left field with, “Brie, I think we should start tithing faithfully.”
Okay, God, got it, loud and clear. You see, tithing for me wasn’t about the money as much as it was about control. And I knew we weren’t necessarily giving money to the church because they really needed our money to make ends meet. God was telling us to tithe for what it would do in my heart and my relationship with Him. It was about letting go and letting God. It was about trusting Him for our provision. It was about believing He would provide what we needed, always, even when I could not see how. Some paydays I saw more debits due than the credits available. We had more bills than we had paycheck. It would be easy to not tithe those weeks, to say I’d pick it back up next time, but I refused. It wasn’t that it would hurt the church’s offering plate. It’s that it would hurt my faith. So, I gave even when I didn’t feel like we had it to give. I gave when my logic told me I shouldn’t. I gave, no matter what, because that’s what God told me to do.
Well, back to the present. He was telling me to take five weeks off work. It made zero sense to my budget-conscious self. We did not have the funds to do it. We could save up, scrimp, squirrel away, and whatever else, but logically it wasn’t wise to go that long without income coming in. Especially at Christmas! And two birthdays in December! And the gas mileage accrued when you haul 10,000 pounds of house across three states!
But God. Y’all, all I felt was peace. I should have been afraid, but I wasn’t. Where God leads, He provides, but not just financially. He also provides His peace. That’s how I knew we needed to come home for Christmas. Because, despite my brief concerns based on what I could budget and see in the natural, I knew with 100 percent certainty that we were doing His will. Why was it His will for us to take a month off in Mississippi? I’m still not totally sure. I’ve seen Him doing some things, but I’ve also learned you may not see clearly all that God is doing through you at any given time. You just trust. I knew this. I knew He wanted us to go, and I felt zero anxiety about the financial aspect of it.
The plans, though! Yep, I had made plans to save money. Yes, all my plans had fallen apart. Still, I trusted. I can’t really explain that except for the Holy Spirit. He sustained my faith. In the physical I saw disaster, but in my spirit I felt peace. So much peace, so little fear. Praise the Lord.
Well, the night after we arrived I was given a stack of mail from my aunt that had been delivered to her house. There was a lot of junk in there, but nestled in the bundle was an unexpected blessing. It was a large refund check that would adequately cover my time off work. We had not been expecting it at all. We had not known it was coming, but God did.
Bottom line, He told us to go. It didn’t make sense financially, but we knew it was His will, for whatever reason, so we followed. And we followed in faith. Through His wonderful mercy and grace, we followed in faith. It wasn’t our strength of faith, but rather Him at work in us. We simply allowed Him access to our hearts and every part of our lives. In turn, He controlled every aspect. I finally had let go of all control over finances in my life, and in turn He took over that part, far better than I ever could.
I suppose it’s easy to lose sight. We look around and can’t figure out how God will work it out, but He always has a way. Our job is to trust Him always, in all things. I could write a book about all the miraculous things He has done in our lives, but for now I share this one. I mark this place in our lives. This will forever be remembered as the Christmas that God paid the tab.