I’ve mentioned on this blog quite a few times that for a long time I was the cockiest, most arrogant piece of crap person that you could meet. Everything I did was for myself. Even if I was “helping” somebody, I’d figure out a way to get something out of it. I could talk myself out of or into anything that I wanted.
Then there’s the story of how I was painfully humbled and the growth and change that came through that. I’d like to think that where I am today is a much better place than where I was then and that who I am today is a much better person than who I was then. Talking about how I’m more humble now than I used to be probably isn’t very humble but hopefully you get the picture.
The whole concept of putting others before myself, valuing relationships over “stuff,” and trying to legitimately love the people around me has completely, 100% butted up against what I feel like God has been speaking to me the last week or so.
I’ll give you a little insight into what’s going on and then I’d love your opinion in the comments on here. I think it’s a really interesting dilemma. Even calling it a dilemma is probably an overstatement.
I’m a student ministry intern. Most of you reading this knew that. As I’ve said before, with the intern job title comes intern pay and intern pay includes getting paid in candy. Last week I wrote a blog post about finances and in it I wrote this:
Lately, money has become something that’s been on my mind a lot. I’m not a greedy person. I don’t even really want anything. I’m perfectly content with the “stuff” that I have. However, I know that the things that I do now at the age of 24 will impact what I’m able to do at the age of 34, or 44, or 54. The decisions I make now as a single guy will impact my marriage, my children, and my family.
Unfortunately though, I’m starting from the red. Because of school and seminary and all of that, I’m in big time student loan debt. Don’t get me wrong, I think that debt was completely worth it but holy poo, it’s a big number. I also bought a car in college when I was making a lot more money than I am now. Add to that insurance, taxes, tithes, and the fact that I’d like to get married in the next 12-18 months and my financial situation right now isn’t the prettiest.
I don’t hide the fact that money’s tight. I don’t hide the fact that there are things that I’d like to be able to buy for completely unselfish reasons and for reasons other than just to get more “stuff.” I also don’t hide the fact that I’m worried about how I’m going to be able to do these things.
As I’ve been praying about these things and these worries and these concerns, I keep getting this feeling that God is looking me dead in the eye and saying to me: Why don’t you ask me for them?
That’s a weird concept. I would feel completely selfish if I were to sit down and in my prayers say, “God, I’d really like for you to provide the money for me so that I can buy Nicole the ring that she deserves.” Or maybe I could pray, “Father, I’d love to get this loan paid off sooner. Is there any way that you could provide an extra hundred bucks a month for me to do that?” There are people five miles from where I live that are completely broke and going through winter without the essentials. Every time that I go two miles down to Interstate 40 I see homeless people trying to get rides to some other city or get a few dollars to walk to Popeyes and get some chicken. I see all of this regularly and I’m supposed to ask for hundreds, maybe even thousands, of dollars to buy a ring or pay off a loan?
On the other end of the spectrum I’m constantly reminded of how God has always taken care of me. When I needed new tires last fall to get home for Thanksgiving, God provided them for me through my freshmen and their parents. When I came back from Christmas completely broke I found a Kroger gift card sitting on my desk and I still don’t know who it’s from to this day. Then, yesterday, completely out of the blue, I got an offer to work an event that’s going to pay the exact amount that I’m going to need to pay my taxes on my car and get it inspected.
Is God really telling me to ask him for the “stuff” that I want?
I honestly think that he is.
There’s a difference in asking for “stuff” for selfish reasons and asking for them for pure reasons. As I’ve gone through this battle back and forth in my head I’ve really had to ask myself, “Do you want that for a selfish reason or is your reasoning pure?” To be perfectly honest, there are times that I don’t know the answer to that question.
I don’t know how God is going to provide in each individual case of the things that I’m asking for. It may come through an opportunity to earn some money outside of work. It may come through a series of small gifts. It may turn out that God wants me to have something completely different than what I’m asking for. I really have no clue.
All I know is that I think that God wants me to ask him for his help.
I think that God wants me to trust that he can provide for me.
I think that God wants me to let him show that he is God.
And maybe he’s wanting to show the same thing to you.