I Love Ram

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.)

PREAMBLE

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.

PART I

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?)

PART II

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.

The Death of Sapphira and Ananias Aubin Vouet c.1632 Maybe I need to get a print of this just as a little reminder for myself. ;)

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!!

PART III

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.

PART IV

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.

Luke 6:38

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! :)

 

 

 

 

22 Responses to I Love Ram

  1. Kate King August 30, 2011 at 3:46 am #

    Awesome post, thanks Katrina. I LOVE seeing God’s orchestration in our lives – all for his glory as our mouths hang open!

  2. Sandy August 30, 2011 at 6:18 am #

    Praise GOD from Whom ALL blessings flow! It is so exciting to see Him at work – today – every day! Shout it from the housetops so the whole world knows – Our God Reigns!

  3. Brian Tenny August 30, 2011 at 6:38 am #

    Thank the LORD (CreaTOR) for His wisdom, creativity, timing and incredible sense of humor to keep us guessing and trusting :-)

  4. Laura August 30, 2011 at 6:57 am #

    Love it, love it, love it! Excellently written and beautiful message. It’s going to be a re-post frenzy.

  5. Teri August 30, 2011 at 8:20 am #

    The devo I did this morning was on just that passage in Genesis. Cool, huh? I think I like this post better than I love manna because to me it is so much more encouraging to know that God is “orchestrating well in advance”. Nice job!

  6. Jason Smith August 30, 2011 at 9:53 am #

    Great. I can’t wait for next year’s “I Love Ravens” story or “I Love the Never Ending Bottle of Oil”… OK, so that one doesn’t have as nice a ring to it.

    • thelowryder August 30, 2011 at 12:50 pm #

      I can’t wait either. Although, I’d love someone to send in their I Love Ravens or I Love the Never Ending Bottle of Oil story. Got any? Thanks for reading. :)

  7. Jane Peterson August 30, 2011 at 3:39 pm #

    I don’t believe in coincidences, only in the sovereignty of God over everything in His creation. Your great RAM & MANNA stories remind me of a hymn by William Cowper. Written in 8,6,8,6 meter, it fits to the tune of “Amazing Grace” & many other great hymns of the faith.

    “The saints should never be dismayed,
    Nor sink in hopeless fear;
    For when they least expect his aid,
    The Savior will appear.

    “This Abraham found, he raised the knife,
    God saw, and said, “Forbear;”
    Yon ram shall yield his meaner life,
    Behold the victim there.

    [leaving out some verses about David & Saul and Jonah & the whale here]

    “Blest proofs of pow’r and grace divine,
    That meet us in His Word!
    May every deep-felt care of mine
    Be trusted with the Lord.

    “Wait for His seasonable aid,
    And though it tarry, wait;
    THE PROMISE MAY BE LONG-DELAYED,
    BUT CANNOT COME TOO LATE.” (emphasis mine)

  8. Jane Peterson August 30, 2011 at 3:40 pm #

    Sorry; I should have said “Jonah & the FISH,” not “whale.”

  9. Amy August 9, 2012 at 9:57 am #

    Duudde! One year ago you wrote this and it’s like God is the same last week as he was last year or something?!?! Can you believe how eerily similar our posts are?
    Amy recently posted…Marriage, Broken and BeautifulMy Profile

    • Katrina August 9, 2012 at 10:04 am #

      I was reading your post and thinking EXACTLY that AND also how amazing God is for “introduce” us to one another. I love finding kindred spirits on the internet. :)

  10. Kelli August 14, 2012 at 10:29 pm #

    I LOVE this post! My husband does not get paid in the summer, and I had just taken a decent pay cut. When I figured it out, we were literally $3000 short of what we needed for the summer months! Well, summer is almost over and the bills are all paid and on time. Yes we ate frugally, and no we didn’t do a lot this summer, but I hadn’t figured “fun” or “food” into our budget anyway. Somehow, we had enough. Some of it was obvious, bills less than anticipated, thriftier grocery shopping, etc. But some was just miraculous…I found $50 in my Bible. My husband found $20 in his wallet. Nothing like that ever happened to us before! We were so very blessed this summer! Sorry for the long comment, but I am just so excited about how God provides!! :)

    • Katrina August 15, 2012 at 12:13 am #

      You should click over and read I Love Manna. :) Heck, you should read all The Provision Stories. Thanks so much for the comment and reading. I love getting excited about God’s provision.

  11. Lisa P August 15, 2012 at 7:04 am #

    I just read this whole post again, and it’s just as powerful the second time!

  12. Raechelle August 28, 2012 at 11:43 am #

    Thank you for sharing – I notice that while my husband and I have a hard time with the bible – being written by man, and religion – taken over by power-hungry, false motives… leaving us wondering about God and religion – between the lines I hear my God talking to us quietly whispering his true nature. He has never failed us. Over and over and over these things have happened for us. I’ve come to believe in them, to expect His hand. (I do however believe that not having savings is akin to “testing” Him though, and thus feel that is unwise. Like putting money away for the summer, savings are there for unexpected times. That does NOT take away God’s majesty to provide for you or create situations where you need His hand to help! But like you say – you must act on YOUR convictions.
    In my family, we were blessed with another child. (totalling 5.) Our debt is huge. (currently at 100,000, not including the house.) Most of that is school loans. One school loan is 48,000 alone! However, we freely admit that our use of money has gotten us into this spot, with poor credit. We had to buy a new car to fit our family. We NEEDED a new car – we simply couldn’t fit one more child in. But that baby was a-comin’! We spent weeks finding the right vehicle! We found the best deal in the world! GREAT price, perfect condition, and they were willing to do whatever to part with it! However, we couldn’t get around our credit. I even tried a co-signer. No go. My sister would have to buy the vehicle for us outright, and she wouldn’t do that. I left with my husband from the car lot in total shame. Embarrassment, humiliation… (We’re very responsible people. Much of the bad debt came from some tough times when my husband was trying to stay together with the mother of his children – who had become an addict etc. He was working full time, going to school full time – taking care of her and the kids. It was rough. When we met, we’ve spent a LOT on lawyers and such. We ARE responsible, but we also know there are times when we haven’t been. We felt such shame and humiliation. And still – we have a baby coming and NO way to bring her home with her siblings! I could see no way that God could provide us a vehicle.
    My brother in law lost his job. He’d been with the company since high school, and they had to close their doors. The owner felt terrible letting him go. He offered him two options as his form of a severance package. – I can’t recall what the other was, but one was taking the company SUV. He chose the car – which is funny, because he already had one, nearly identical. Many years ago before I met my husband, I loaned my brother in law some money. They made up part of that in helping with the flowers for the wedding. He decided to give my husband the car to make up for the rest. Out of the blue. My “dream car” was a black SUV. I didn’t want another truck, or a minivan. I wanted an SUV. I wanted black. I would have been happy with anything that ran and fit our family. My prayers were answered down to the blasted color. I can’t tell you how shaken I was by this. I feel that not only did God provide for us, He also used this as another example of His forgiveness. I feel like we are total screw-ups. Yet He forgives my idiocy and gives me an SUV! No, I can’t explain the un answered prayers, or the times when He seems to abandon us. I can’t explain why He sometimes seems absent. But I know that He is still there. Your quote “I have provision you know not of” leaves me shaking. Your story matches my own and shows me that although I don’t know all the answers to the theological questions, I do know that His nature is consistent and can be heard and understood.

    • Katrina August 28, 2012 at 6:54 pm #

      Wonderful testimony Raechelle! Thanks so much for sharing your story. I agree that sometimes I don’t understand why he does or doesn’t provide, but I know that HIS method of providing truly seems to be what is BEST for us.
      Katrina recently posted…Day 3: What’s in Your Pantry?My Profile

  13. MyPeaceOfFood October 2, 2012 at 3:37 pm #

    I am having a problem right now feeling like I don’t have enough to give and just feeling like I should give, but not wanting to, because of that fear. It’s really making me crazy, and I don’t know what to do about it. I feel like I want to give just so I’ll receive something back. I know that’s completely normal, but how do I detach from that? I’ve asked to be moved to give. And I do give large sums of non-monetary gifts in the form of donations to 3-4 different charities per month (clothes, household goods, etc), but that just feels too easy. The dollar bills are hard for me to part with. Maybe a cash system and starting out small (saving to give) would work, I don’t know. I just feel very unsettled in this area and I have for quite some time.
    MyPeaceOfFood recently posted…Feeling goodMy Profile

    • Katrina October 2, 2012 at 7:15 pm #

      I think the only way to do it without trouble is to give OFF the TOP. The reason that we had trouble this month was because we hadn’t done that and were giving after the fact, retroactively–as it were. A lot of people do 10% off the top, but if that freaks you out, just commit to giving some amount or percentage off the top as a show of FIRST fruits. Not only will it make you better stewards with the remaining, but I feel like God has always shown himself faithful when I honor him with my giving. (PS: Giving stuff is not bad. Even time can be of great use to those who don’t have it. Money isn’t the only kind of tithe.)

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