Let’s start off with a little preamble because you know how much I love a good preamble. Then we will proceed through Parts 1-4. (Did I mention I’ve been reading a lot of Dickens? Four parts and a preamble are the minimum needed for this story.)
What is the Save to Give Challenge?
This year, my family has committed to giving away as much as we save on consumable items like groceries and household items. This is a result of the fact that last year, I looked at our little “expenses” piechart on Quicken, and I just could not stand the fact that the pie piece for “Groceries/Household” was slightly bigger than the pie piece for “Giving.” It seemed like we should not spend more on TP, diapers, and food for ourselves than we gave away to people who REALLY need it. The challenge that I set for us was that we would give away AT LEAST as much as we saved, since by couponing, I typically save more than what I spend.
Save to Give was a good plan; however, it had a flaw. I forgot that in the summer we don’t give nearly as much because we don’t have income. SO it was much harder to match our giving to our savings–or even our spending. During the months of salary, we only had set aside enough money to “live off of”–not enough to “give off of.” And, since we don’t have a savings account, there is no cushion.
Many of you know my view on savings, but I will summarize. We don’t have a savings account, and we don’t think God wants us to have one because then we would trust in it instead of him. We have retirement and insurance, but we don’t have an “emergency fund.” Just to clarify however, this is a decision we’ve made for ourselves based on what God has taught us, and he may have told you something different. Nonetheless, I can’t find a lot of Scriptures about savings being good. Okay, that’s enough on this . . . .
Anywho, I realized that what we needed to do was be EXTRA careful over the summer, with the hope that at the end of summer we would have enough left over to match our savings. Since this is our family’s challenge and I am the financier, I made the executive decision to wait until the end of the summer to do the giving based on our remaining funds. By waiting, I rationalized, I could ensure that we would not run out of money and wind up in debt. Surely debt is worse than anything. (Even Monsanto.) So, with a fully clear conscience, I decided that I would modify Save To Give such that while we might not exactly match our savings in the summer, we would save as much of our “living” money as we could with the intention to give it.
Seeing as how we finished last summer with about $13 in our checking, I was not really that optimistic. Even after I Love Manna, I tended to think we would squeak through summer by the hair of our chinny-chin-chin. (How’s that for mixing metaphors?)
Interesting things happened.
1. My Dad went on a mission trip to Tanzania and left some of his handyman clients to the ProvidinaTOR, who earned money being handy.
2. We ended up spending even LESS on our vacation this year despite staying longer.
3. I earned $27 more dollars on Ebates.
4. We started Eating Poorganically, which made me EVEN MORE tyrannical about our budget.
Thus, as the end of the summer approached and payday neared, something became shockingly and abundantly clear. We were actually going to have like $5XX left in our accounts at the end of summer.
I knew this, but I did not tell the ProvidinaTOR. And actually, I began to think that maybe there was some wisdom in the notion of having just a wee-little smackerel of savings for a rainy day. But I did not tell the ProvidinaTOR that either.
I actually began to think that maybe ALL of you readers would forget about Save to Give. Or perhaps I would just resume reporting it in the fall and keep that sweet little next egg instead of going down to ZERO money. Who wants to be zero? Who wants to have ZERO dollars? I didn’t. I didn’t want to have zero dollars. I didn’t want to give that $5XX away.
As payday grew ever closer, I did not tell the Providinator that we had that much left. Nor did I broach the subject of to whom we should give the money. I KNEW that as soon as I told him, he would be like, “SWEET! Let’s give it to Soandso!”
Dang-it. My husband is too generous.
I did not want to give it to Soandso because then Soandso would have $5xx, and I would have ZERO dollars. (For a few minutes until payday came and direct deposit came.)
Still. I did not want to.
Then The ProvidinaTOR found out that, due to MORE budget cuts, a little more money would be chunked-off his already frozen and previously chunked-off salary.
I actually schemed a lot about this. Maybe God was giving US the $5XX to make up for the chunked-off salary? Would it be lying to change my plan? Would it be hypocritical? Would it be bad to keep the $5XX and use it as cushion? I mean, lots of people have way more than $5XX in savings. Lots of smart Christian people have advised us NOT to have ZERO dollars.
But truthfully, every time I thought about that money, I got this image of Ananais and Sapphira just gettin’ taken OUT because they lied to God about how much they gave. And, as much as the thought of having ZERO dollars is unpleasant, the notion of being struck dead is slightly more . . . um, sobering.
My stress had almost reached its zenith. Finally one morning JUST before payday, staring at my hypocritical maw in the mirror, I just decided that I would tell the ProvidinaTOR about the money, and then see what he would say.
Without a second’s hesitation, he immediately thought of multiple Soandsos that we should give it to. And you know, the moment I told him, I was suddenly SO relieved that we were going to give away that stinkin’ money because it had just been weighing me down, worrying me and frustrating me.
PHEWWWWW!! It was like a huge wonderful gusty sigh to know that we would be giving that money away. That night, God reminded me of two particular Soandsos that I was REALLY excited to give the money to AND I was totally jazzed that God was letting us be a part of providing a tiny something for them. WooT-whoo!!
On payday, I sat down at the computer for the moment of truth. Of course, I hadn’t actually given away the designated $5XX to Soandsos yet (since I had just stopped being a flippin’ hypocrite the day before), but the disclosure to the ProvidinaTOR had freed my heart up, so that I knew I didn’t even think of $5XX as mine. I was ready to send it off with no trouble.
Still, I was curious to see the amount in the paycheck because I knew that it would be slightly chunked-off, but also perhaps slightly larger due to moving some of us off his health insurance (which would be later offset by paying for our new private insurance.) AN-NEE-WAY . . .
I waited and waited, watching my computer screen as the little red updating ball spun round and round.
Lo and Be-FREAKIN-HOLD! What?? What before my wondering eyes did appear than . . . a figure so much huger than what I expected!!! What!?! I scratched down the arithmetic for the changes we’d made to our insurances trying to arrive at the number I saw before me, but I could only see one thing.
The number was almost exactly OLD SALARY + 2 (5xx).
For those of you rusty on math, like me, remember that means TWO TIMES the number in parenthesis. OR DOUBLE THE AMOUNT we had JUST given away (in our hearts)!!!
I hastily e-mailed the ProvidinaTOR who explained that we’d been refunded part of our insurance payments for the summer months we’d cancelled, which accounted for super big surplus to this paycheck. I told him that the amount was eerily double the amount that we’d just committed to give away, and in his casual way, he laughed, unsurprised. But to me, it was obvious. The Lord may as well have had a megaphone to my ear and said, “I got this one for you in the thicket!”
Now, some of you may have been waiting for an “I Love Manna” moment. But this is not “I Love Manna.” This is I Love Ram. And in I Love Ram, things work a little differently.
Some of you may be familiar with the story of Abraham in Genesis 22(read here) wherein he is asked to sacrifice his son Isaac on a particular mountain. I will MAJORLY summarize by saying that, with almost NO hesitation, Abraham sets out the next morning on a three day trip to the designated mountain, builds an altar, and is about to kill his son when God says to Abraham, “Do not lay a hand on the boy,” he said. “Do not do anything to him. Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son.”
Then Abraham looks up and sees that there is a ram caught in the thicket to use for the sacrifice instead of his Isaac.
Before we go into this analogy, I want to make it abundantly clear that, IN NO WAY do I want to indicate that giving away money is even REMOTELY similar to sacrificing a child. They are not comparable. Please don’t get me wrong on that. I’m going to try to make another entirely different parallel and gingerly step away from that one . . .
For me, God was clearly showing me that His money, which I was SO reluctant to give, was very easy for him to replace DOUBLY. When I finally obeyed and willingly “sacrificed” -even just in my heart– the money that I perceived was “mine,” he IMMEDIATELY fully replaced that giving in such a way that we were awestruck. Even though I almost failed this test of obedience in giving, he seemed to say, “You know that money you thought you might need for cushion . . . I got more where that came from. I’ll take your little sacrifice, and I’ll double that.”
Now, some of you might be thinking, Well Katrina, “I Love Manna” was nice and spine-tingley because that provision came totally out of the blue, but in this story that paycheck money was just a refund on insurance that you would have gotten whether or not you had committed to give away the $5XX. So isn’t that just more of a coincidence?
I guess in a way you could look at it like that. Coincidences do happen. You could say that thickets grow, rams have horns, rams get horns caught in thickets everyday. But I don’t think that they do.
I think when we are obedient, whether immediately or eventually, God provides rams– maybe not pre-slaughtered ones that fall from heaven directly onto the altar in the form of ram-burgers. He’s not so indelicate as that. He’s orchestrating well in advance. Thickets grow, rams wander, insurances are cancelled, and God lays out a plan for provision, waiting for us to choose to be a part of what He can do in our lives. Waiting for a chance to make us say, “Wow Lord. That was ALL YOU!”
Oh Lord, may I never be tempted to withhold from you what is yours. May I never miss an opportunity to give. Help me to remember that YOU are the one who provides what I have, what I save, and what I give.
38 Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”
Do you have a cool ram story? A manna story? We all love to learn about God’s provision . . .Share your story. And if this one encouraged you, please share it too!