When you have been in a faith ministry for thirty-four years you experience many ups and downs. A faith ministry depends on the giving of others. My husband, the evangelist, gets love offerings for preaching and frankly sometimes the people do not love him very much. We depend on those love offerings and the monthly giving of churches and others for our very existence. If giving is down, then naturally our finances are down. We pay all the expenses of the ministry and live on what is left.
Although I know that God is faithful and He will not let me down nor throw me a curve, sometimes I feel He is really pushing the "faith thing".
Like what happens when unexpected expenses take half of your monthly giving during the first week of the month? That leaves a long, long trail awinding before the first of the next month rolls around. You realize you can't even afford to have a cold!
The ole brain kicks into overdrive thinking of ways to tighten an already tightened belt, cut down on food expense, gas expense, laundry expense, and any expense that is not absolutely essential to breathing. No Sunday paper, no desserts, soda, or chips would be on the grocery list. No ice cream! Are you aware of the fact that you can live an entire month without ice cream? Well, you just have to sacrifice some things in order to keep basics in the house.
Then there is the "no more hair spray thing!" After about a week, there were no good hair days. I tried barrettes, hair bands, and even baseball caps, but all in all, it was pretty frightening. I tried to maintain the attitude that there was some redemptive power in clean hair.
And, there is the "Old Mother Hubbard went to her cupboard and found all the stuff that no one wants to eat and you wonder why you ever bought it in the first place thing." Not to mention watching the expressions on your family's faces when they see the rather strange combination of food you are serving for dinner. I tried the "think of all the starving people in Africa" speeches. Facial expressions remained the same. I tried, "It's not so bad eating beans and beets, they are really good for you." Facial expressions remained the same. I tried "mystery meat is not so bad." Facial expressions remained the same. Finally I said in exasperated Christian love, "This is it, eat it, or leave it! But if you leave it, most likely it will turn up in another form at your next meal."
All in all everyone kept pleasant about the shortages and were even helpful with suggestions like "let's go to McDonalds!" It was hard giving up all that grease and artery clogging cholesterol for several weeks. Wow, these addictions can really get a hold on your appetite!
I was absolutely elated to find that on the last day of the month we actually had $29 in our bank account. How did we do that?
On the first of the next month, my son, Peter, called me at the office. He said, "Mom, are you going to the grocery store today?" I assured him that I was, and asked him why he wanted to know.
"Well," he replied, "I opened the refrigerator door and a tumbleweed rolled out." I love how young people perceive life. The refrigerator had been an empty, barren wasteland for so long, that in his way of thinking, tumbleweeds had appeared and were rolling about.
But, God is faithful! It is amazing to experience how much you can actually do without!
"Great is Thy faithfulness!
Great is Thy faithfulness!
Morning by morning new mercies I see;
All I have needed,
Thy hand hath provided—
Great is Thy faithfulness,
Lord, unto me!"
—Thomas O. Chisholm