So I know it's not just us. Nobody has money in January. In many cases, it's because we've overspent on Christmas gifts or spent a small fortune traveling to exotic locale for the holidays. In our case, it's neither. Although I would commit murder to be in an exotic locale right about now.
It's our first winter as homeowners, and predictably-- there are expenses that we underestimated, didn't expect, or didn't plan well for. And as any do-it-yourself-er could attest to, home renovations always end up costing more than you anticipated. Especially when that home renovation project involves turning an old, musty garage into an awesomely adorable abode. Crazy how that works. And there are always things that need to be fixed or tweaked or replaced; I spent a portion of yesterday, during our snowstorm-going from room to room- identifying new places where our ceiling was leaking. And then in true melodramatic, stir-crazy, wacko-pregnant-hormone fashion, I began thinking about all the other things that need to be done... and about how the oil man just came and left us some oil and a huge bill... and about how we'll need to fix the clutch/heat/radio in my car, oh, wait! get a new car so that when the new baby is born, I can fit all my kids in it. And my heart immediately began to give way to fear. "Lord, what will we do? How will we pay for these things? What else can I cut out of our budget? Lord, what will we do??"
Let me first say-- I think we live fairly frugally. We don't eat out, I am trying to learn to be better with coupons, we cloth diaper, we almost always buy used clothing or get hand-me-downs from generous people in our lives. We don't have a fancy car, we keep the heat at 62; we're typically not reckless with money. And while we are feeling the "pinch" right now more so than in other times in our lives, we are, by God's grace, not behind on anything-- and have always been able to pay our obligations on time. These financial issues are what my missionary sister calls "first-world problems."
But none of that is the point, because there are always things that we could do better, always ways that we could be wiser stewards of our money. It's not the point, because God is not so concerned with my finances as He is with my heart. And the moment that my heart began to fear, I began to accuse the character of God: "You have not been good. You have not been faithful, You have not kept Your promises." WHAT?! Let's quickly pass over all the material stuff-- you know, a house, job, clothes, food-- "little" things that I somehow feel God "owes" me, and consider this: my soul has been purchased with the blood of a spotless Savior. The deepest need I have, the only one of eternal importance-- has been secured at the expense of Another. What arrogance-- that I can accuse God of not providing for me! That I can accuse Him of not being good! What a wretch I am.
Today, as the girls were napping, I was painting a closet and enjoying having a few quiet, kid-free moments. As I was cutting in the trim, I was reminded of the Scripture, "Your Heavenly Father knows that you need them." You remember the story, right? Jesus is teaching on a mountainside, to a people probably well familiar with poverty, and He cautions them to not be like people who don't know God-- who run after food and drink and clothing as though their lives depended on it. He reminded them, "your Heavenly Father know that you need it." I immediately saw my sin and began weeping into my paint. God met my deepest need in sending a Savior, and yet He still concerns Himself about the minutia and lilliputians that can seem so pressing to me. In addition, He gave me a wise husband who works unfathomably hard for our family; and even though I know he sometimes doesn't feel it, He gives my husband wisdom to lead our family with shrewdness and purposefulness.
I look at the heating oil bill; He knows that I need it. I look at my growing daughter and think of spring clothes for her; He knows that I need it. I look at my little car and my growing family; He knows that I need it. I look at our leaking ceiling; He knows that I need it. I look at the state of my soul, lost in sin without a thought of God; He knew that I needed it, and send His Son so that I could be reconciled to Him. May my soul be quiet and still before my God; He is, by His very character, faithful. My God is for me. I have nothing to fear.