“What do you think, money grows on trees, Lindsay?” my mother would ask me when I was young.
I think I came out of the womb with bad money management skills.
I was so bad with money, I would frequent the “Payday Loan” places all the while making a very decent salary. I didn’t get a payday loan to pay my bills; I got the loan to buy 150.00 jeans and fancy vodka drinks.
It gets worse. With 28K in college loans and a party lifestyle that took all my money, I decided to defer my loans for 10 years. Therefore I ended up with 8K more in interest (Yes, brilliant I know).
I also had 12,000 in credit card debt for no other reason than I thought I needed more things. I was trying to fill a void with stuff.
OH and I leased a cute car (because I thought it made me cute) that cost me 350.00 a month
It was a case of mistaken identity, trying to buy self worth and acceptance.
But when I was 32, I sat in church and heard a sermon on money. Later that year, I joined a mentor program where you read the Dave Ramsey book Total Money Makeover, get on a budget and start to work towards paying off debt. Which worked great until 2 months later, when I lost my job.
God knew just what He was doing, because this story proves the very grace, mercy and ability of God (because of Jesus) to redeem even those of us who “made our own bed” when it comes to debt.
God doesn’t help those who help themselves; He helps those who turn to Him with no idea what to do or how to do it. He has a way of bringing us to a point where we can no longer do it without Him. A place where depending on Him becomes necessary, as He guides us through a learning process and makes big huge miracles out of tiny little obedience.
One little miracle along the 4-year journey:
I remember the feeling like I was losing an arm as my mentors said those dreaded words: “Lindsay, you need to turn in your car at the end of your lease and buy a car with cash.” Terror stricken, I thought, “I can’t drive an ugly car, what would people think of me.”
“Fear of man will prove to be a snare,” God says!
I stressed over the entire thing for a few months, coming up with excuses like “I am a single girl, I need a safe car!” I remember praying a completely selfish prayer one night, asking God if I could drive some kind of cute car. I had basically put my identity in the car I drove. I thought it had something to do with my worth. Such a lie and trap of the enemy to keep us in bondage!
But as only God can, He began to change my heart. For the next 9 months I saved every penny I could, paying the minimums on everything else. I saved 8K (which they recommended) to get a “new used” car. As God does, He provided, at the last minute, 1,000K under budget, a car that was cute and strangely looked super similar to my Volvo (just 20K cheaper). It seemed as though once I finally surrendered my idolatry of a cute car, He gave me another one for a fraction of the cost.
Through this experience, God also taught me about giving:
Malachi 3:10 (NASB)
Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, so that there may befood in My house, and test Me now in this,” says the Lord of hosts, “if I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you a blessing until it overflows.
I was encouraged to give away 2% of my income when I first started paying off my debt. I would give to those who needed help. As the years went on, each January I felt God asking me to give a little more. I have to tell you as soon as I got to a certain level of generosity, weird things started to happen.
Now I am not a theologian, I don’t know the Greek and Hebrew of the verse above, but this whole “open up the windows of heaven” thing started to happen to me. So much so that when I found a $20.00 bill in a chair at work, everyone was like “of course Lindsay would randomly find money” because so many crazy strange blessings were coming my way and everyone was a witness to them. No one knew about my giving.
I could go on and on with the many miracles of God, the encouraging ways He would show me that He was indeed with me on this 4 year journey. I felt more beautiful than ever before and I was shopping at thrift stores instead of fancy boutiques. For 3 years I used root touch up and sometimes sharpie markers to cover up my greys, rather than stop in at the salon. As I learned to truly trust Him, I worked diligently, sacrificed, gave generously and watched my debt slowly go from 60,000 to ZERO.
God was beyond faithful to me during this time. I found myself staying in more, getting to know God. I started to enjoy saving money and God blessed me a million times over my giving and my sacrifice. Do it God’s way, a little obedience goes a long way!
Lindsay Morgan is a native of Ohio who moved south 7 years ago where she met Jesus head on at age 31. Ever since then, she has been fascinated by His tangible presence and real love. Her writings usually include the grace, the struggle and the expectant heart of a moment by moment surrender to the God who created the Universe! Find more at www.PuttingthePencilDown.com.