Living the single girl life can sometimes put quite the strain on my little wallet. I am incredibly blessed with a great job that I love and I get paid well to do what I do, but at the same time it's just ME in my household. I have a mortgage, a car payment, student loans, insurance, a couple credit cards....none of these expenses I took on initially thinking I would one day be paying them on my own. Yada yada... you know all the bills we, as adults, have to face each month. I'm not a great saver and I spend a crap load of money on going out to eat with friends and frivolous things (ahem...Walgreens). You've heard me say this before, but I'm a baller on a budget!
So back in October my church introduced a campaign called Waking the Giant, and part of this campaign includes moving into a larger, more permanent location (we are a new-ish church of only 3-4 years and we rent a facility currently). Moving to a new location requires some moolah - and $500,000 over 3 years to be exact. That's a hefty challenge, especially being presented to us just before the holiday season. My pastor was asking us to step outside of our individual comfort zones and to "test" God on this tithing issue. Malachi 3:10 talks about God challenging His people to tithe, the only time in the Bible that it allows us to test Him. "I will open the windows of Heaven for you. I will pour our blessings so great you won't have enough room to take it in. Try it! Put me to the test! (NIV)" I prayed long and hard about it. I knew I felt moved to contribute, and I knew I could trust God to provide for me...but I am telling you it's a SCARY thing to give up control of your money. I will freely give up $50 to buy a round of beers for a friend who's had a rough day, or drop $100 without hesitation at Wal-Mart on who knows what, but I was really struggling with this idea of giving just 10% to my church.
I have never been a regular contributor to the offering plate on Sundays. I gave $10 here, a couple bucks there, and never really gave it a 2nd thought. I justified it by telling myself that God knew my single income situation. He knew that sometimes I am waiting on my paycheck to hit the bank before I can get gas again. I spent several nights in tears over my budget, trying to work this out on paper and I just couldn't see how it would come together. Honestly, I just hoped that God would show me a way that I could wiggle out of this. My church has been a lifesaver for me. I am not being dramatic when I say that. God has been so good to me, more so than I deserve! I am a part of this church, and it's a huge part of me. This new location matters to me. I knew He was calling me to trust Him. So the day that we were supposed to make our commitments came.... and I put my money where my mouth was, literally speaking. I no longer wanted to say "have faith in Him" here or "trust Him with this", yet not make this sacrifice myself.
That was on November 24th. And guess what is happening come January 1st for me? I got a big promotion at work, with a raise that will more than cover the commitment I made for the Waking the Giant Campaign. And I've heard stories from people in my church family who have been blessed in the same manner. You can read my pastor's own story here. I have never felt more thankful. I have never been closer to God. I have never had so many answered prayers, large & small.
The moral of this story is no matter what you are facing, no matter how big it seems or how much it challenges you - you can get through it with Him. I promise. I am not even trying to be preachy with you guys. I just wanted to share this experience because it has genuinely blown my mind how it's all come to work out. When I made that commitment, I was honestly scared to death about how I would manage to make it all work and still have money at the end of the day. I felt like who am I to deserve these blessings? I am a small town girl in Knoxville, TN who makes a ton of mistakes everyday. I've been wronged and I've definitely done my fair share of wrong doing to hurt people. I am so humbled by God's plan for me, even though I have no earthly idea where it will lead me.