Wednesday, February 21, 2018

The Financial Planning of Faith

The Lord has really been laying the topic of finances on my heart lately.  Or if I’m being honest, I should say, challenging me on the subject. 

Jake and I have been at a point of reflection regarding the last 18 months and what the Lord called us to walk away from in order to allow us to step in.

I’ve written before on the subject of obedience but I want to be transparent regarding what the last 18 months have “cost” us. 

When I stepped away from my former job, we knew we were taking a big risk financially and fully depending on the Lord to step into that space of provision for us.  After receiving tax documentation for 2017, we were humbled to see exactly what that meant.  We learned that we have adapted to living on less than 50% of our former household income and wow is that eye-opening. 

People have asked us how we did it or how we do it.  How could we feel comfortable enough to step away from the material security to step into the unknown? 

Truth is, the Lord had already begun preparing us.  For at least three years leading up to my departure, the Lord really spoke to me about being a good steward of our finances.  Time and time again I was reminded to pay down debt rather than spend.  It was through the income from my old job that we were able to pay down nearly $35,000 in student loans.  It meant spending bonus money on student loans rather than vacations or shopping sprees.  It meant paying down credit cards as quickly as possible. 

As a result of taking that debt off of our financial plate, we knew we had two less monthly bills to pay on when we walked away from that income.   Originally we thought that the Lord would call us after we had all of our debt paid off - ha, wouldn't that have been convenient?! 

Let me give you a realistic picture of what this last 18 months has looked like so that you aren’t under the impression that we just walked into this fresh as daisies.  The last 18 months has meant cutting out all extra expenses that are not vital to our family.  It meant refinancing our home to pay off car loans and credit card bills to remove the burden of those monthly expenses.  It also meant walking away from a 15-year mortgage that we would have had fully paid off in 3 years, to a 30-year mortgage that we barely break even on each month.  It means selling cars for cash flow and buying cheaper/older ones without a car payment to replace them.  It means incredible gratitude for my husband’s talents and skillset and his patience for watching youtube videos on car repairs in order to do any repairs himself before paying an mechanic.  It means stretching the ingredients in your cabinets until your grocery fund gets replenished on your next payday.  It means bypassing on your favorite brand name grocery items for the sake of cost effectiveness.  It means trusting God for pennies from heaven on the months that your paychecks aren’t going to cut it because of unexpected expenses – and seeing him come through. 

I don’t tell you this for pity.  I tell you this for preparation.  I know there are many of you that want to step into God’s calling on your life but you aren’t sure if the time is right.  I say listen carefully to what the Lord is speaking to you RIGHT NOW.  If I had not listened to God when he told me to pay down our debt, we wouldn’t have cut it these last 18 months.  Had I not listened to the Lord when he told me to dig in, work hard and prepare at my last job, I would not have been willing to jump when he said jump.  Please hear me when I say that just because you jump in, does not mean it is going to be easy. 

If you are in a place where you realize that God is stirring within you – let him stir but listen to His instructions.  Right now, there may be things holding you captive that you need to get out from under before you can be a willing servant to the Lord.  That is ok.  There is a season for everything.  If you feel that the Lord is calling you to a specific financial step, whether it is taking a leap of faith or good stewardship to prepare for a future step, look to the Bible for affirmation.  His word is living and active and will speak to what He wants to you do.  

Proverbs 22:7 The rich rule over the poor, and the borrower is servant to the lender.  

I do want to share some encouragement so it doesn’t sound all doom, gloom and budget talk here at the Gus household.  While we aren’t rolling in the big bucks these days this time of financial diligence has pushed us closer to certain callings on our lives than we ever could have expected.  Jake is stepping into opportunities, such as coaching, as a result of having the time to do so.  If we had the money, we’d be taking more trips or doing more things within our nuclear family unit that have nothing to do with serving or interacting with others right here in our community.  Instead, God is giving us the opportunity to serve others while enjoying time as a family.  As a result of Jake getting involved in coaching, my boys will have the opportunity to see their dad grow, encourage and mentor young men.  They will get to see the man of God I hope they aspire to be in action.  They will see his heart and his commitment toward growing and challenging young men to be their best and most genuine selves.  And I will get low-cost, good old-fashioned baseball entertainment for my two highly energetic toddlers! 

The Lord will bring fruitfulness and joy into your life in whatever stage you are but you have to cling to him in order to experience that joy. 

Let me add that there are many people out there who have very lucrative and successful side hustles and I can fully respect that but not everyone is called into that.  There will be a balance that needs to be agreed upon between you and your spouse with regards to time, sacrifice, and financial needs.  Jake and I know what our balance is and we pray through it and work toward it.  The Lord will show you yours, trust in his wisdom.  Please also remember that there is no shame in budgeting or being cost conscious – I’m tired of the world making it feel that way. 

I will end with this, whether or not you are ready to take the leap, cut ties and step into God’s calling on your life, or whether you are in the planning and side hustling stage of faith financial planning– trust the step that God has you in.  He has your very best interests at heart and will not lead you astray.  Remember, the Lord gives us our future 24 hours at a time and he will provide your DAILY bread.  It does not say ABUNDANT bread it says DAILY bread.  Trust in his faithfulness.  

Philippians 4:19 
And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.  

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