Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Making Ends Meet (01/16/14)
TITLE: Stealing From God: An Epiphany
By Lisa Johnson
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Caroline sank wearily into the pew, tired from another fight with her husband. The subject? Tithing. She had started feeling convicted that they, as a family, should be offering God a tenth of her income whenever she got paid. Her husband disagreed.
“We don't have enough to pay the bills as it is, Caroline,” he argued. “If we give God a tenth of your money every payday, we really will not have enough. Absolutely not.”
She knew all about how hard things had been. Her husband had been laid off from work four years ago, and had still not found work. Oh, he put out feelers and resumes on the internet, and put in applications at one place or another from time to time, but he was still not employed.
The pawn shop and the payday loan places had become her best friends. She had hocked everything of value in the house, including her wedding rings. When she ran out of things to take to the pawn shop, then a friend introduced her to the payday loan places. It seemed simple enough... borrow money to get you through until the next payday, then they take the payment out of your next check. No one prepared her for the high interest... and the fact that it took away her ability to pay the real bills when they came due. It became a vicious circle, a trap that seemed impossible to escape from. Robbing Peter to pay Paul, but unfortunately, Peter never ever got paid back that way.
The church had been kind enough to bail her out a couple of times, with the benevolent funds. She had promised faithfully she would never go back to the loan places. For a while she would keep her promise, then something would happen... an unexpected emergency, or illness, that tapped out the budget again... and she would be right back begging money from the local “loan sharks.” (She was too embarrassed to go back to the church again.)
She had started to come under conviction a few weeks prior to the blow-out with her husband. He did not see things the way she saw them now. She was not robbing from Peter to pay Paul, she was stealing from God. And that made her feel sick to her stomach.
She had tried to tell her husband that God would not bless them as long as they were disobedient. He brushed her off angrily. She tried to tell him that God would honor obedience. He did not want to hear it.
“Oh ye of little faith,” she thought, but dared not voice it, in light of how angry he had become.
She bowed her head in silent prayer, “Dear Lord, I know that You desire obedience from Your children. I confess that we had been robbing You of Your just due. Please help me to get through to my husband, and show him that we can trust You to meet our needs. Please help me to be strong in my faith, and in my conviction that we must bring a tithe to Your house. I believe what the Bible says about “never seeing the righteous forsaken, or their children begging for bread. In Jesus Name, Amen.”
She pulled out the check book from her purse. She had $10 left in it, after paying their bills for this week. Her husband had told her she needed to save it, in case something happened before she got paid again. She took a deep breath, and made out a $10 check to the church benevolent fund. It was not a tenth of her last paycheck, but it was a start. Seeing a light at the end of the tunnel, at last, she whispered, “Lord, I will trust You to help me make ends meet, and I will be obedient to give You what You deserve.”
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