$.39 is enough

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?

    9 thoughts on “$.39 is enough

    1. Thanks for sharing this. People need to hear stories like this. People need to know that God is real and alive and at work in our lives. It’s hard trusting Him with every aspect of our lives. It’s something I struggle with daily, so I love being reminded that He is in control and nothing happens untill He is ready.

      I heard a very similar story this past week in our small group. One couple was very frustrated before our annual WOW offering. They are on a fixed and a variable income. The variable has been having a tough time recently and they weren’t able to come up with anything to give for their offering. They like a lot of us had commited a year ago to give to WOW over and above anything that made sense (Worldly sense), and trusting God to provide. So they like you were frustrated, and confused. But the day before the offering, God provided them with a check in the mail box as well.

      Sometimes I think God brings us right to the edge as if to say to us, “Why are you worried. I told you, I’ve got your back”.

    2. I am now officially scared about our next steps:) Just kidding, that was one of the most helpful posts I’ve ever read, thanks for laying it out there.

    3. paul.
      me and my wife were serving at a church last year and leadership changed so we resigned in december. it’s been a crazy time of trying to discover what god has for us next.

      we stayed in the same town while my wife completed some obligations and i wasn’t working. obviously finances were tight, but god continued to provide. my wife spoke at a conferece that had been arranged in september when we didn’t need the income, but in january when we got the money we did. other gifts came in through different people.

      and for the past 3 months, we’ve been living with my in-laws. that’s never easy over the long haul. we’ve both got good jobs that have allowed us to save as we move into the next phase god has for us… most likely joining a team to plant a church.

      just wanted to encourage you even more and let you know that god will continue to provide. he’s doing it for us as well.

      when we’ve had no clue what is going on with our lives or how we were going to be able to do things, god has been so faithful and taken care of us.

    4. Thank you for being honest, and sharing these moments in your life at just the right time for me, and I’m sure for others – must be a God thing! Your right, His timing is PERFECT, who are we to think that we could do better? Mark and I pray blessings on you and your family, we’re excited to see all that He’s doing in ya’ll lives!

    5. Good stuff, bro. I have pages in my journal devoted to the stories in my life like this. Even today, I was balancing the checkbook (and getting a bit nervous) when I went and checked the mail and had a $200something refund check from our insurance company.

      He is good.

    6. >>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 smiled when I read that! Not a laughing at your helplessness — a knowing smile that I have been there and I feel your pain. In fact, am there even now!

      I love the switch to confidence. I have these yo-yo moments myself… I am unsure/confused/scared…. now I am confident and secure… now I am frustrated again…. etc. The key to handling these swings is the application of truth; God has provided in the past, God has not abandoned me, God is good-all the time!, etc.

      I may have to come back and reread this post for my own benefit within the next 24 hours because I am swinging into the ??!!***#@$! camp again. 🙂


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