God Doesn’t Want Your Money

Then the people rejoiced because they had given willingly, for with a whole heart they had offered freely to the Lord. David the King also rejoiced greatly. -1 Chronicles 29:9

Recently, Mark and I spent several consecutive nights going over our finances. We took ourselves through scripture, as well as used an incredible book, From Debtor to Better, as our guide.

Mark and I are debt free. This means that we own both of our cars – paid cash for both. We have zero student loans – paid off more than $20,000 in less three years. We had a baby, and we paid cash for each and every bill. We have all the necessary insurances – home, life, health, etc. We’re debt free!

However, this last year was a year of much tribulation. It seemed that as we would overcome one financial hurdle, there would be another financial hurdle. We never felt like we got ahead, and that savings fund we built up? Yeah, it was completely depleted.

Right now, as I type, our bank account has dropped below $1,000. We do have savings, albeit low, we have it. We’re fine. So don’t start sending us money dear sweet mother-in-love. 😉 I know you! Sit back and keep reading.

My point is that the end of 2011 left us scratching our heads and wondering two things:

1) How did we get like this?

2) How in the world did we make it through last year?

I have to be honest, and I have to say it outright, we could not have made it through this last year apart from the sheer grace and mercy of God.

At the end of 2010, we set financial goals for 2011. Our theme was give until it hurts. Little did we know at the time what we were saying, at least not to the fullest extent. We thought our past couple of years was commendable in the area of giving. We thought we sacrificed until it hurt. However, we hadn’t, and God had bigger fish to fry than our money. He our pride to deal with, and pride did He deal.

We committed to giving more than the obligatory 10% to the Lord.

Mark was convinced that the Lord was asking us to give until it hurt, and Mark was right.

As we look back over the course of the last year, I am amazed.

Did we get to buy clothes? Nope.
Did we get to buy decorations for our home? Nope.
Did we get to go on a getaway together? Nope.
Did we get to buy extravagant gifts for our friends and family? Nope.
Did we have a cushiony bank account? Nope – far from it.
Did we get to eat steak dinner? Nope. But we sure tried.

However, we had all that we needed, and we were able to watch and experience the Lord’s provision.

  • When our money went to fixing a flat tire, we saw the Lord mold the roofing company’s heart who covered the tab without question.
  • When our money went to putting new brakes on our van, we saw the Lord provide the next size clothing for Samuel through family.
  • When our money went to moving expenses, we saw the Lord provide friends who were willing to get dirty, really dirty, to help us get our house ready to live in.
  • When our grocery budget had to be cut, we saw the Lord fill our freezer full through the generosity of family.
  • When we had no idea how we were going to be able to cover our tithe, we saw the Lord provide finances from unexpected sources.

Mark and I were far from perfect this last year, and my attitude can be summed up in a word: terrible. Or maybe: selfish. Or better yet: discontent.

So often, I demanded more money. I searched our bank account for an extra few dollars so I could buy the boots I wanted. I scrounged for finances so I could eat out for lunch because I didn’t feel like making myself anything. I whined about not getting to do anything, go anywhere. I complained that none of our clothes fit and all I had were my clothes from when I worked in an office.

Then, when my grandparents would commend us for making sacrifices so I could stay home with our baby, my stomach would drop. I would feel shame, and realize that what they thought I was, I was not. Far from it. I was that person wanting more stuff! I was that person complaining and whining! That humbled me.

Furthermore, when the man of my prayers asked me to track our finances, I didn’t want to do it even though I knew it would serve him. I made excuses and did it reluctantly. I made sure he knew what a sacrifice it was for me each time I had to input receipts and make the deposits at the bank. I mean, I do have a busy one year old! What does he do all day while I’m searching for that rogue penny to make our checkbook balance?

This last year was a year of pruning, a year of refinement, a year of the Lord asking me,

“Do you trust me, or do you trust your bank account?”

Before this year, I would have said that I trusted the Lord fully with our finances. Our money is God’s money after all – we just get to manage it. However, at the end of this year, as I reflect on the twelve months prior, I see clearly that the Lord truly wanted my heart, not my money.

God wanted my heart to reflect the heart of a servant, like David from the Old Testament, who blessed the Lord and gave willingly with his whole heart.

For you will not delight in sacrifice, or I would give it; you will not be pleased with a burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise. Psalm 51:16-17

To my amazement, as I calculated our bills and compared it to our estimated income for 2012, there was a leftover amount – an amount that I could not account for. This amount was allotted in 2011. Once our bills are paid and our needs are met, there was $200 a month leftover. Then, it dawned on me, and I fell to my knees … that was God’s money, the money we gave extra – above and beyond. The money that hurt so bad to give.

In my mess, all of it, God got what He wanted. He not only got my heart, but He got my money too.

Do you have a hard time trusting God with your finances?

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28 Comments

  1. Wonderful post Leigh Ann! I cannot say the same about being debt free, however, we have walked to this point of opening up a business through faith! Honestly, we wouldn’t have been able to do it if we didn’t use some debt to get there, I guess the same as someone buying a house, who gets a mortgage.
    He is faithful and WILL provide even when we see it not happening! That’s exactly where we are now, no income (this month) but know HE will provide and our bills will be paid. He is Jehovah Jireh, my Provider!

    (I know this, and can say that but sometimes it is still hard to trust, it’s like I’ve forgotten how He has provided before, praying that I can deepen my faith that like you I can trust Him and not the numbers today)

    1. Rachel, thanks for YOUR transparency! As I was reading your comment, I couldn’t help but think of the Israelites. They saw the Red Sea parted and food falling from the sky and countless other MIRACLES, yet they, too, failed to believe. They, too, forgot God’s faithfulness, and they had the big old cloud out in front to remind them! So, friend, take heart! There is much grace available for you! You’re in a tough season, but it is not a season forgotten by God. Praying for you!

  2. Wow, thank you for your transparency…I am definitely convicted! We have yet to be debt free, but we are working steady towards it. I am in constant prayer about ways we can improve our finances to put towards the debt.

    -Nisha

    1. I’m so glad to hear that you are steadily working toward being debt free. It is so wonderful. Have you heard of the book Debtor to Better? I’m doing a formal review tomorrow, but here is the link to the site, if you’re interested. It’s by far my favorite book on moving from … well, debtor to truly better! – http://www.debtortobetter.com/the-book/

  3. Oh Leigh Ann I am torn. I can be frank and say we don’t tithe (ahh). I feel torn. I grew up hopping from one church to another. Now, we are in the process of moving and getting re-established. I hope that once we get there we can start to tithe, but my husband is not really on board. He thinks that is an old school way of thinking. I teeter on the line between trying to change his heart (not my place) and trying to be faithful to what God is requiring of me. My answer? PRAY. AHHH

    1. By the way, we are debt free too. It is such a freeing feeling. We are in the process of buying a house, which will be debt incurred, but I personally don’t mind owing on a house. AND we are going to be making a 13th pymt each year to cut down on principal…so hopefully our debt will get paid back much sooner!

    2. Nikki, what a difficult situation – to be divided on the use of money. However, I commend you for your persistence in NOT nagging. Prayer is far more effective … and God-glorifying. 🙂 So go you!

      A thought you might pitch to your hubby, as I can understand his reservations. We, too, battled where to give our money. We are now in transition as well (regarding churches). One of the things we have done, and really enjoyed, is setting up what we call a “God fund.” It’s a savings account separate from our other money. We use ING and it’s just a “folder” that we labeled God fund. Anyways, each pay check we sock money away in it. For instance, right now, we have no church home; therefore, we’ve taken our “10%” and put it into this account. It’s not our money. It’s there for when the Lord leads us to give it away.

      In the past, it has been used to help my sister out of a sad situation (which ended with her coming to know the Lord!). We’ve used it to give money to a couple who was having a hard time making ends meet. We’ve given it to foreign missionaries and local missionaries. We’ve used it to buy a dinner gift card for a family who had a fourth baby. The possibilities are endless. But if we didn’t put the money aside, we couldn’t have been used by the Lord.

      So it’s a thought to consider. Maybe your hubby would go for that. And it doesn’t have to be 10%. It can be any amount. Make up rules and put it in an account that isn’t easily accessible so you’re not tempted. Then, wait for the Lord to stir your heart. Who knows, maybe it will build and build and build and you can open your own orphan care or something 🙂

      1. Totally great idea! I use ING for our savings (same reason, harder to get to—three days for a transfer to go through means you have to plan!). We are trying to save right now to prepare for the move and the upcoming months so I can just HEAR my husband saying: No Way! We can’t afford it. He doesn’t have the same view as me. But we will see. The Lord has a plan. He knows what we will give and where our hearts are – so I can only do so much and I refuse to dig in my heels about money…that NEVER goes well!

  4. What a wonderful post! I truly enjoy reading your blog, it’s always so inspirational, honest, real and God-centered. This has really got me thinking. 🙂

  5. Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. I love this – your transparency and the lesson learned! I have gone through similar things; and it’s always when I surrender our income to the Lord that I am at peace about our finances. I have to do it over and over again, sometimes!

    1. You and me both, Anne! Even since I wrote this post, I have found my heart racing and my mind pondering, “How will this work?” But each time, God is faithful to probe my heart and remind me of truth. We serve an incredibly faithful God!

  6. I found your post through a friend’s blog. Thanks so much for sharing this side of the debt-free lifestyle! We are currently debt-free as well and it is such a wonderful feeling! I’ve found in my life, though, that anything can become an idol, even something like saving, investing and giving. Ugh, if I only I wasn’t so human! 🙂 My husband often reminds me that everything I have was God’s to begin with and most of all He wants fellowship with us and surrender to His will.

    1. Jenn, thanks for stopping by. I can definitely relate to saving, investing, and giving as an idol. I think that’s what our last year was stripping us of. It hurt to go through, but I’m grateful that God doesn’t leave me to myself! 🙂

  7. WONDERFUL review of Barry’s book – prayer is so powerful, so simple and yet it can be so difficult to honestly pour our hearts out to God, even if He is the only one that can hear us. I suppose that’s because it is hard for us to admit we are weak, selfish, imperfect – human. Perhaps, it’s FAITH that is the difficult part to up-hold when our daily lives seem to chip away at it. It’s true, a grateful heart does indeed help keep us in perspective. — and it sure does feel absolutely wonderful to see God’s plan fulfilled. (I know I posted this at Stacy Makes Cents, but I wanted to share on your site as well.)