Living With A Butterfly
Fifty years ago, returning home on leave from military service, I discovered a neighborhood worm had changed into a rare and beautiful butterfly. Wonder of wonders – she said she loved me. After completing my service hitch, we were married.
When Dot didn’t crack an egg the first morning after our honeymoon, I was concerned. Mother always made breakfast. Dot was puzzled also – her dad fixed breakfast.
Dot’s family tithed. Mine did not. To please my new bride, I agreed we would. It lasted two months -- for me. My new job with a low starting pay made tithing impossible, I thought.
Years afterward I learned Dot tithed the grocery money I gave her, and the income she received from ironing clothes to make a little extra.
Ten years and several promotions later we were living in a new town with our three children. The church we attended had a month long stewardship emphasis and someone shared their tithing testimony each week. I remember two in particular.
Dorothy Holly and her husband owned a plumbing company. Some weeks, she said, their income was very good, some weeks were very poor. But they had learned to put God first and tithe, regardless of the kind of week it was. That echoed in my heart. I received a paycheck twice a month. I knew to a penny what my income would be. I marveled at Dorothy’s faith, that she trusted God to meet their needs every week.
The next Sunday Col. Nick Nicholson said the verse that asks, “Will a man rob God?” found in Malachi, convinced him that he was a robber. He began tithing immediately, and God blessed.
I left church that day deeply convicted that I, too, was a thief – that I was robbing God. That is what His word said. Driving home from church I declared, “We are tithing our next paycheck.”
“Oh, no!” exclaimed my lovely Christian wife. Every penny of the December 15th paycheck was budgeted for Christmas gifts. “Well” she paused, “we can rearrange things. We will make it work.” Later she would say God was testing her, also.
When we gave our tithing check the following Sunday, it was with much joy. I was no longer stealing from God. The next week, I received a check from Dad for slightly more than the amount we had given to our church. He had never sent me a check before. He did so every Christmas thereafter until he came down with Alzheimer’s.
I know why tithing did not work the first time. I started for the wrong reason -- to please my wife, instead of God.
God promises eternal life to all who believe Him, but that pertains to the future. When I experienced God’s ability to save me from payday to payday, in the here and now, it did something incredibly marvelous for my faith.
Since we began tithing, our family’s trips to the hospital have stopped except for one visit. I was admitted with a heart problem and immediately became interested in reading the Bible. Imagine that. I discovered Solomon’s wisdom in Ecclesiastes 12:13: “Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is the whole duty of man.” I decided the only reason I was alive was to have the opportunity to be obedient. I still believe that.
During the first ten years of our marriage we paid for ten hospital visits for one or the other of our family. Once I was admitted with chronic diarrhea but afterward, could produce no evidence of the problem. I just got to pay for a hospital stay. God has a sense of humor, I think. I believe if you don’t tithe, you don’t get to enjoy what you kept from God. When we began tithing, our expenses decreased and family finances improved remarkably.
As a retired banker I can tell you tithing doesn’t work -- on paper. But, you can experience it. God keeps His promise when you surrender your pocketbook to Him joyfully. When He says “Prove Me”, it means you will know, without doubt, what He has done for you.
I write this from our hotel on our 50th anniversary, reminiscing. Last night we saw The Immigrant, a play about a banker that didn’t believe in God, his wife that did, and a Jewish immigrant. It spoke to my heart.
God is more wonderful than I have words to describe. And so is my butterfly.
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