About three months ago I made the decision to resign from my job. I have worked at the same school as a primary school educator for eight years. So you can see that I am not one for change. I function well with structure and set schedules. Getting through a “to-do-list” gives me a sense of accomplishment and purpose each day. Therefore the teaching environment suited me just fine and enabled me to feel productive. I would normally be preparing to go back to work at this time of the year as the schools re-open this week. Yet the reality that I’m not going back to work is beginning to kick in…But before I elaborate on my current circumstances allow me to briefly explain how I came to the decision to resign from my job.
Last year during my August holiday break I was praying one morning and asking the Lord what His will for me was. I’m sure you’ve asked that question before as well. However this time I decided to stop and listen for a response from the Lord. There was unfortunately no audible voice from heaven but there were voices that I heard. Not divine or human ones that is. I heard the voices of the birds outside. I pressed in to listen more carefully. I heard so many different bird sounds taking place at that specific moment. They were communicating to each other, probably preparing for the business of the day. If I could have interpreted their conversations they were probably saying “Where shall we begin looking for our next meal?” In that moment it was as if the Lord spoke directly to me as He called my attention to what Jesus said to His disciples in Matthew 6:25-34. I opened my Bible to those words immediately and began to read. I have read these words many times before but this time they seemed new and fresh and God spoke directly into my heart at once. Jesus reminded me that if He cares for these birds outside and provides for their needs then will He not also care for me and provide for my needs? The reason is because I am of infinitely more worth than the birds. Then I got to verse 33 which says “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” This was a clear and direct promise to me from Jesus Himself. All He requires of me is to seek first His kingdom and His righteousness and while I am doing that He will take care of my needs. In that moment I began to weep as I realized that I was a man of “little faith” and that I didn’t really trust Jesus to take care of my future. My trust had been in myself and my hope set on my riches (that refers to my investment savings). I don’t fully understand what it means to seek first the kingdom but I knew in my heart that I wanted to serve Jesus more fully at that moment. Have I been serving Jesus as an educator for the past eight years? Indeed. I have come to view my work as my ministry and that the Lord placed me at that specific school to serve people. His hand has been all over my life at that school. However I felt His call to serve Him in a different capacity this year. I will be helping at a small Bible College helping to teach first year students and, in conjunction with that, I will be doing my honors degree in Theology. I am also undertaking the daunting task of learning Koine Greek. This is the original language in which the New Testament of the Bible was written. Hence in order to serve the Lord in this capacity I had to resign from my job.
So back to my current circumstances. As much as I am excited to begin this new journey of my life I confess that I am struggling in specific ways. Simply because I have made these choices to pursue these ministry opportunities does not mean that I am all of a sudden some kind of a spiritual giant. Far from it! My flesh is weak and I often experience pockets of doubt and discouragement as I wrestle with unanswered questions. One particular question that I keep wrestling with is “Where will my income come from?” What I haven’t mentioned yet, simply because I don’t want to glorify my circumstances, is that I am jobless. As a result of this situation you would expect me to lean hard on the Lord, right? I do, but half-heartedly. My tendency is to rely on my own self-efforts to make things happen. This is no clearer than when I go a few days without consulting the Lord in prayer to guide me and to help me. And the result? I am not any closer to finding work that will afford me the necessary funds to cover my monthly expenses. Sadly my proactiveness and busyness have been no substitute for trusting in the Lord to provide for me. The good news though is that last night the Lord broke through my stubbornness and hardness of heart. He reminded me once again that I am of more worth than the birds of the air, that He cares for me, and that He will provide for me. All He asks of me right now is to trust in Him.
As I wait on the Lord and trust Him in new ways, there are many lessons that He is teaching me and lessons that I would like to share with you. As brothers and sisters in Christ we have different callings but we serve one Lord! We have different needs but the same God who provides for us! Perhaps like me you are having to rely on the Lord in news to provide for your needs. Perhaps you are also spending far too much time worrying about where your income will come from to meet the ever-increasing demands of life. Friend what you and I desperately need is a fresh perspective this year on how we view our finances and possessions. Do we actually believe that everything we have worked so hard for is rightfully ours? We live as if it is. Instead of spending all our time pursuing ways to become rich in this world (which is futile) we must seek ways to become rich towards God. What does it mean to become rich towards God? Listen carefully to the words of Jesus as He gives us the answer “19 Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, 20 but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:19-21). I am no expert on financial matters but it seems like Jesus is asking us to make an eternal or heavenly investment. Why? Because earthly investments are not safe and will not last! I love what Randy Alcorn says about having an eternal investment perspective
“Christ, the ultimate investment counselor, says, “Don’t ask how your investment will be paying off in just thirty years. Ask how it will be paying off in thirty million years.” Wise people, according to Jesus, think ahead not just to their retirement years but to eternity.”
Only when we move from being earthly focused, asking questions like “Where will my money or my possessions come from” and start becoming heavenly focused, asking the Lord “What do you want me to do with your money and your possessions?” will we be able to view our finances correctly and become rich towards God.