I wrote this post several days ago, but I held it in draft form because I was waiting for some details of what I was writing about to be finalized. It's a good thing I did because things didn't work out quite as I planned.
A couple of weeks ago, Thailand Chani wrote a post about having a True Day, in which bloggers would admit something true about ourselves that we usually hide from others. The idea started me thinking, but I wasn't ready to write about it until I'd mulled it over.
I don't like to admit this, but sometimes, I really wish we could receive some big windfall—enough money to live on for about two or three years. I wouldn't stop working at educational writing, but I would work fewer hours so that I could spend more time on my personal writing and my art. I'd use the "windfall" to make up for the lost income, at the same time trying to earn money from the work I'd rather be doing.
So I was thinking about this one morning during my devotional time, and I remembered the parable of the man who built a big barn to store all his wealth, only to die the next night. And I realized sheepishly that I was thinking along the same lines as that foolish man By dwelling on the idea of a huge safety net of money, I was putting my faith in the wrong thing—in money, not in God.
At that point, I had one of those epiphanies, the kind that feels like a hand reaching out and grabbing your throat to get your attention. I remembered that about a year ago that the nature of my visions changed. (For many years, I've had sporadic visions in which I see myself in a forest where I usually encounter Jesus and receive encouragement or guidance.) Well, starting a year ago, instead of going to a forest as usual, the Lord led me across the lake to a new rocky, barren place. In other words, I was in a desert, and the Lord told me that I wasn't going to return to the forest. Well, the epiphany I had the other day was really rather simple. What do people eat in the desert? Manna.
When the Israelites spent 40 years in the wilderness, God fed them by giving them just enough manna for each day. If they gathered more than they needed for a day, it would rot. And suddenly, I saw that living as we do, with both Michael and I working as freelance writers and never knowing too far ahead where our income is coming from, is like living on manna.
At the same time, it occurred to me that there was a way to look at our situation that was the opposite of my usual perspective. Instead of obsessing about how stressful such a life is and wishing for the false security of a big pile of money, I should realize that it is a privilege to have to rely on God's providence each and every day. It's not a situation he puts people in as a punishment. It's an opportunity to grow in faith and trust. As we have had ample proof the last year, banks, stock markets, and real estate are no true source of security. God alone is worthy of our faith and trust.
I don't mean to suggest that I have completely absorbed this idea. It is so foreign to my natural way of thinking that I fear I'm going to have to relearn this lesson again and again. But at least, I now have an interpretive framework to help me make more sense out of the financial ups and downs.
Of course, God does have a sense of humor. These insights hit me about a week and a half ago. A few days afterward, I received a call about taking on another part-time job. I was excited because Michael still hasn't found more work to replace the freelance assignment that's ending. I thought this was our chance to make up for some of his lost income. I told the woman who called me that I couldn't give a solid answer on how many hours a week I'd work. I wanted to contact the other editor I was working for to see about their schedule so I could judge how much work I could take on in addition to my full-time assignment.
When I did that, I was shocked to learn that my hours on the original job will be cut in half for the last four months of this year. So the bad news is that the new job will NOT make up for Michael's lack of work. But the good news is that God provided me some replacement work even before I knew my hours were being cut.
The incredible timing of those events is helping me to trust God to provide for us. We still have a lot of uncertainty about finances the next few months (I have no idea how many weeks the new job will last), but I'm starting to understand that maybe having such uncertainty is just the way our lives are going to be.
As much as I still occasionally yearn for some long-term relief from the ups and downs and the anxiety, I'm trying to remember that this is my opportunity to learn a new and more godly set of values. And it is a privilege to be so dependent on God for our daily bread.