I think life is a journey. I think we’re all better when we travel together and when we travel out loud. Having said that, some things are fairly difficult to disclose, finances being one of them.
What I am preparing to share with you is personal, but part of the journey.
Last year we left a secure income at a great church. We left everything because God has called us to give our lives to ministry through a new church.
We left our friends, home, income, job security, etc., and came to Mountain Lake Church to learn how to start a new church, through a one year church-planting residency. This last year and in this coming year we are raising our own support, much like missionaries or missions teams do when they go on missions trips. Our income is completely dependent upon people’s gifts.
Last week Mountain Lake’s “Money Man” told me “You have $.39 in your account.” Let me explain. Every gift that comes in for us goes into a “Peterson” line item in the Mountain Lake budget. From this line item they write our paycheck. If we raise money we get a paycheck. If we don’t raise money we don’t get a paycheck.
You can imagine my discomfort (to say the least) when I heard that we only had $.39 in the account! We get paid every two weeks and last week was “pay week.” Basically I knew that we weren’t going to get a paycheck.
I went home pretty frustrated and said to God and Sherri, “I could do a better job of providing for my family than God is doing.” Of course I realized how stupid that statement was so I took my journal and went away to pray.
As I talked with Sherri and God things began to click. I moved from a state of frustration to a state of confidence. I looked at my bride, one of five ladies that I am responsible for supporting, and said, “If you ask me what we’re going to do, I’d have to tell you that I don’t have a clue.” I’ve gotta be honest and tell you, I felt neutered… helpless… out of control… frustrated. But then I was overwhelmed with confidence. You see, I’m a child of a King. He calls me “son” and I call Him “Father.” We are living in obedience to His call on our lives, and we have been good managers of the funds He has entrusted to us. Therefore we will trust our Father to provide for us and continue working hard on this church He has called us to start.
So, yesterday I picked up the mail and guess what… our Father took care of us. A check almost equal to our bi-weekly paycheck was in the mail! It was what was left over from our Escrow Account from the sale of our house! We didn’t know it was coming. We didn’t budget for it, but when we needed it our Father planned for and provided it.
Let me share a few other ways He’s cared for us over these last months:
- One week we had $93 for groceries for a family of six – a check from the state of New York came in the mail. Apparently we overpaid on taxes.
- When our house finally sold we had to make up almost a $13,000 difference between what we owed and what we sold it for. God provided a gift, a tax return, and a $500 error on the part of some of the contractors… we’re clear and free on the house and never missed or were late for a payment.
- When we moved, we sold all of our furniture to pay for the costs of moving. When we arrived we had nothing to eat on or sit on. We ate sitting in lawn chairs with our food on TV trays, and the girls sat on the kitchen counter to eat. Through God’s provision and people’s gifts we now live in a fully furnished home.
- When we made this move we knew our income would be smaller and less certain. We made two decisions: 1) We would not incur any new debt, and 2) Our marriage would be better when we left than when we came. It was good when we came, but we wanted to leave with an even healthier marriage! As we prepare to leave, not only have we not taken on any new debt, but we have paid off debt AND our marriage is strong and our vision for the future of our family and ministry is clear.
I could go on and on but you get the point.
There’s a side of me that really does not want to live like this for the rest of my life, and yet there’s another side that says, “I’m not sure I don’t want to live like this. I love living on the edge and regularly seeing God pull off the unexpected.”
Last week, when faced with a pending financial deficit, I wrote in my journal,
Father, you are trustworthy. You have a long history of caring for your children in general and me/us in particular. While I’m not sure how, I’m confident that you will, and it is in the “will” that I rest.
You are good and generous and never short with your blessings. You are always on time and in season. Thank you for this chance to see you work… again.
I confess and repent of my frustration. Forgive me for wanting to provide for my home in ways that would bring honor to me. Forgive me for expressing distaste for your ways. Today, right now I rest in you, your plan, and your Fatherhood. You are my Father and you, as always, know best. I trust you. You will provide for me and care for my family better than I, in my best life, could ever hope too. I am yours to do your will forever, whatever, whenever, however, and with whomever. I, your son, trust you.
So here’s where we’re at – I’d rather live on the edge with God and have $.39 than I would to have millions but no connection to my Father. I’d rather live in the realm of the unexplainable and know the pleasure and provision of God than I would to live in the realm of the explainable and miss the adventure. Honestly, it’d be cool to live on the edge with millions… but that’s for another day! 😉
My guess is that God is waiting to do something exceptional in your life too. He’s waiting for you to step out and commit yourself to a life of obedience to His call, and faith in His ability to provide. How about it?