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ANOTHER MOUNTAIN CONQUERED

June 18th, 2011

 

Life is filled with lessons and tests, all intended to prepare me for eternity.  Each challenge, each storm, each problem presents an opportunity to grow and mature as I work through complicated situations, all the while relying on the power of the Lord to lead me into victory.  I often learn to make good decisions by first making some really bad ones.  Whenever I end up in a big mess, I see it as evidence that I have once again struck out on my own, straying away from the counsel of the Lord.

In my mind, this lesson-learning process is similar to going around a mountain to reach the top.  When I run into an issue that causes me to lose my joy, and I ‘go all the way around that mountain’ and do not fare so well, then the Lord allows me to go around it again, and again, as many times as it takes to ‘reach the top’ and learn that lesson.  Sometimes one trip around is sufficient to conquer that mountain; however, the more stubborn issues often call for many tours around.  I really believe that God is not so concerned about how many times I have to go around, so long as I continue to face my issues and press on, with my eyes fixed on Him.  I must admit, sometimes I get really weary of having to deal with the same demon over and over and over.  But oh, the victory is sweet when I finally ‘get it’ and I conquer that mountain!

This is my personal testimony of the conquering of a really big mountain that I have been circling for many years.  When cutting to the chase, I call it a spirit of poverty.  In more gentle terms, it is that place where money is always an issue, and any financial setback shakes my peace and draws me to worry.  I have never had very deep pockets, so even the smallest money issue has always had my full attention.  Over the years I have allowed myself to get bound up in matters concerning money, often worrying about whether or not we would have enough to meet our obligations and still be able to have some fun.  Jesus said to not worry about such things, but for most of my life I was unaware of that verse.  Today I know that the evidence of my wealth or poverty is not found in the size of my bank account.  Rather, it is measured by the condition of my heart, the depth of my faith, and my level of belief that Jehovah God is indeed my provider.

For many years I was a single mother raising four children, and although I always had a job, we lived on a relatively small income.  Every time we were faced with an unusual expense, we had to find a way to stretch what money we had.  I remember when our dog was hit by a car.  We held a family meeting and voted on whether or not to use the grocery money to take the dog to the vet.  We had some unusual meals that week as we cleaned out the cupboards.  Looking back, I can see that we always had enough, but it certainly never felt that way to me.  During that time, I considered myself ‘saved’, but only on a doctrinal basis.  It would have never occurred to me that God was continually working in my life, so I believed my survival was based on how well I handled life’s situations.

When I remarried, my new husband came with lots of potential, and lots of debt.  I smile as I remember cosigning for a loan so he could buy me an engagement ring.  Today I would forego the ring, but I was a different person back then.  He was faithfully digging out of a ‘dark’ season in his life, and I knew going in to the marriage that we would have some financial mountains to climb.  I also knew he was well worth the effort!  However, I was caught off-guard when the first letter we received as a married couple was from a local bank, offering us the ‘opportunity’ to pay off an old debt.  My new husband had taken out a small loan a number of years earlier, one he had completely forgotten about, and the bank had lost track of him.  Although the statute of limitations had run and the bank could not pursue legal action, we knew we needed to repay the debt.  We had been working on a budget on our way home from our honeymoon, but this new responsibility did not fit anywhere in the equation.  So, we gathered up every single dollar of wedding gift money, plus some more, and paid the debt.  I must tell you that taking the high road always pays off.  A few years later, my new job brought me into daily contact with that bank; our offices were even in the bank building!  You can only imagine my reward from having done the right thing.

Looking back, it seemed as though every time we began to make some financial progress, we would experience another setback.  So, it felt like we were forever picking ourselves up from one challenge after another.  I must say, that although it continually wore us out, we always landed on our feet.  God was incredibly good to us, quietly making a way for us at every turn.  However, we always seemed to be wrapped up in money issues, actually, lack-of-money issues.  Our friends and family must have been exhausted from just listening to our stories.  We were exhausted from going around and around that same mountain; praise God for nudging us to keep pressing on.

I remember well the season we fully gave our hearts to the glory of the Lord, and we began learning about His precepts, and His promises.  We were beginning to learn about resting in Him in the middle of life’s challenges; however, our financial mountain did not simply disappear.  In fact, it even got bigger.  Through it all, our hearts were being transformed; we became determined to walk in freedom from worry and anxiety.  With God’s leading and His grace, we went around that financial mountain over and over and over, each time walking out with a little more peace.  Plus, the more generous we were, the more peace we experienced.  I was quite pleased with myself, realizing I was becoming less and less troubled over financial things, and that particular mountain was becoming quite manageable.  At the time, I would have told you I was experiencing true freedom in this arena.  That is, until just recently, when the Lord revealed a greater measure of the mighty work He had been doing in me.

It all started coming to light after we received a letter from the IRS, informing us that we had made an error on our income tax return, resulting in a negative $4000 swing in the amount of taxes we owed.  As I began to read, a cramp formed in my belly, and a sick feeling came over me.  Upon finishing the letter, my spirit cried out to the Lord for help.  Fear was rising up in me, but I was determined that I would not let the enemy take me down.  I declared out loud, “I am the daughter of the Most High God, and He is my Provider.  I refuse to bow down to fear and dread.  If we owe the money, I will gladly pay it and then I will thank You, Lord, for exposing the error.”  I knew I had to find that place of peace before investigating, so I prayed and worshipped for a little while.  I had been counting on receiving an income tax refund, and was already a bit unsettled that it had not yet arrived.  I rested for a few minutes, and waited until my spirit was at peace. 

Taking a deep breath, I pulled out our records and examined the tax return.  Sure enough, right in front of me was my mistake, and upon recalculating, my numbers matched theirs. I quickly wrote the checks and mailed them, and as promised, I thanked the Lord for bringing the error to light.  I also thanked Him for providing us with enough money to pay what we owed. 

Once again I had gone around that same mountain, but this time I felt more at peace than ever before.  I celebrated my victory.  I was indeed walking in my true identity in Christ, and conquering the mountain of fear and worry over money.  I did realize that because we actually had enough cash to cover the debt, it was not a true test of faith.  However, working through the issue so quickly was still a great victory.

Two days later we received a letter from Social Security informing us that we owed them $26,000.  My husband had been injured at work and by the time he was declared eligible for disability compensation, a certain amount of back payments were owed him.  Now they wanted most of it all back.  This was an entirely different challenge because we did not have that money anymore; we had applied it to our mortgage.  We immediately began to gather paperwork and we paid a visit to the Social Security office, hoping to come to some understanding of the situation.  After doing our part, I handed the entire situation over to the Lord, and I absolutely refused to allow fear or worry to gain access to my soul.  Immediately I felt such a peace come over me, bringing sweetness like I had never before experienced in a challenge of this proportion.

At that moment I knew I was walking more fully in my identity, living in a way that lined up with what God said about who I was in Him – and Who He is in me.  That was when I realized I had conquered a mountain, and that spirit of poverty no longer had a grip on my soul.  My victory was confirmed every time I discussed the matter and I still could feel total peace in the middle of the storm.  Now, this is where my soul has forever longed to rest!  I cannot adequately describe the sweetness of this victory, or the joy in knowing I never again need to worry about money.  That is, so long as I walk in my identity, lining up with who God says that I am.

How does this new freedom feel?  Here is an analogy:  I need oxygen in order to survive.  It is an absolutely necessary element my body requires in order to function in this world.  I am most grateful that God has provided oxygen in abundance, but quite frankly, I don’t think about it very often.  I simply count on there being enough for me today, tomorrow, and for as long as I need it.  Intellectually, I know situations could arise where I could have a shortage of this precious element.  However, I stand on my foundation that God is good, all the time, and He always meets all of my needs.  So I just do not concern myself about it.  Same thing now with money.  He is good, all the time, and I know He will supply me with all the money that I need.  I just do not concern myself about it anymore.

As we live and walk in the Kingdom of God, we still need to operate in the world’s system, and our character requires us to be fiscally responsible.  My problem was not about money; it was about seeing money as the solution to my problems, the measure of my success, and the thing that determined how I would live my life.  God expects me to be responsible with the blessings He pours out on me, but He also calls me to remain as peaceful in my soul when money is tight as I am when I clearly have enough to meet my obligations.  I am to rejoice in knowing all is well, and He will supply all my needs according to His good pleasure.

Another big mountain conquered, just in time, as the world’s monetary system is in free-fall and our nation’s economy is beginning to collapse.  Thank You, Father, for always taking such incredibly good care of me, and for once again reminding me that You hold me in the crook of Your arm.