Monday, March 5, 2012

Faith and Frugality: 3 Meetings

A letter from one of the boys I sponsor
"Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?"   Matthew 6:25-26 (NIV)

God always provides but not always in the way you expect.

I've been feeling  stretched lately. My job is in transition, and sometimes my work-week is 40 hours. . .And sometimes it's closer to 20. I am embracing the struggle to live within my unpredictable means as an opportunity to practice even better frugality. I have to admit, though, there have been times when I've been a little grumbly about it.

But God is so good, and I have NO reason for murmuring. Here are a few snapshots of my frugal life of late.

  1. I walked through the grocery store not long ago weighing whether or not I could/should afford a loaf of bread (Post car-repairs, pre tax-refund.) Bread wasn't really necessary. . .but it was an irksome thing to have to quibble over and I was grumbling to God, "We're supposed to pray, 'Give us our daily bread. . .' well, haven't I? And yet, I can't afford a loaf of bread. I'll admit, I'm far from being hungry, but still. Isn't this ironic?"

    Guess what? Right then and there, I realized I had six packets of yeast, and plenty of flour in my cupboard at home. He had already given me a couple of months-worth of bread, at least, if only I was willing to do my part and make it. My shame-faced bit of complaining was the real irony. And that led me to realize. . .

  2. I have never gone without. I have never been hungry. And God is so abundantly faithful, that he is not just feeding me on my slim paychecks, but my two sponsored children as well. I have been sponsoring two little boys through World Help since 2009—one from Honduras, and one from India. Through all the tumult of the past three years (a broken elbow, a totaled car, a cut that needed stitches at the ER, unexpected car repairs, moving and paying double-rent for a couple months, and finally needing to buy another car last summer after my savings had just been drained by other things...) I've never even come close to having to pause or stop my monthly sponsor payments. There is always—sometimes miraculously—enough.

  3. One of my uncles—whom I hadn't seen in years and thought was about 1000 miles away—dropped out of the clear blue sky the other day. He was in the town next-door on business, and he decided we should visit over dinner. I was astounded by his unexpected and unmerited generosity. Not only did he treat me to dinner, he had all sorts of friendly encouragement to offer about my life, decisions, hopes--and he insisted on sending me home with two desserts from the restaurant and a basket full of groceries since WalMart was on the way—the kind of groceries I wouldn't usually buy except as treats. I ate strawberries for breakfast today, and every time I open my refrigerator it feels like Christmas. I have almost cried in humble gratitude—not really for the food since I have aplenty, but for what's behind it.

    He couldn't have known how timely his visit and gifts were. I've been fretting a little lately: doubting myself and my abilities, wondering what the future holds, applying for part-time jobs to see if I could snag a little extra income to make things easier. . .And then I was blindsided by extravagant provision and encouragement. It was so clearly a supernaturally kind and unmerited blessing orchestrated by God and carried out through my uncle.
"Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows."  James 1:17

It was as if God said, "You are not on your own. I know what you need, and I am taking care of you."

Sometimes, reader, times are tough. I pray that you would be encouraged by my stories to trust in God and recognize His caring and merciful hand in your life.