The Experiment continues, although with a slight change in strategy.
The past week was a rough one for the family. Completely broke, struggling to just stay supplied with the basics like toilet paper, razors, pet food, and the like, it was challenging. Yet, we struggled through and made it until Friday (payday), doing entirely without proper medications, and essential supplies like butter or dish soap.
I can’t imagine doing any of this without the ingenuity of my faithful wife. She can make do with so little when, in my opinion, she deserves so much. Somehow, she pulled us through on the home front. We have all been fed, cleaned, loved and supported by her without fail. She continues to bless all of us and is always a source of wisdom for me, even when my stubbornness requires her to repeat the obvious more than once.
Our kids too, have gone through this trial with so much integrity. Growing up with all the insecurities of adolescence, and then to be the one girl in the group lacking money for fun stuff like movies and trips to the mall, Madison (our oldest), while sometimes disappointed (I can’t blame her one bit!), has been such a trooper. We have planted a stake in the ground, our family will be different. Knowing that is the last thing a kid wants, I couldn’t be prouder of her.
I have wrestled with the facts all week. While trying to remain faithful, I couldn’t get past a sickening feeling that my stewardship was suffering. I spoke with mentors I trust and my thoughts were confirmed. While sticking to the letter of the law (which we are not even bound too anymore, thanks to Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross, which ironically, we are in the midst of celebrating this week), I was failing to keep with the spirit of the law. As I led my family, who trusted and followed faithfully, I failed to recognize that we were going the way of the Pharisees in Jesus’ time. We, mainly me who as the leader bears the responsibility, lost our way a bit in our pursuit of Jesus.
Jesus, speaking to the religious leaders, spoke about this very thing in Matthew 12. This scripture has been rolling around in my brain a lot. While we desire to be as generous as we are called to be, we are also to remember that God knows our hearts and motives better than we do. We would love to give to everyone in need, but if by doing so, we become in need ourselves, what good is that?
I withdrew our tithe this week. It was a difficult decision, but necessary. Currently, we are behind on most of our bills and lacking many of the basics. While we will continue to be generous in the areas of The New Normal, Compassion International, and the various other service commitments we have, we also need to catch our breath. I hate it, it hurts to do, but I am at a loss as to what other options I have.
After a season of recovery, we will jump back into the fray. We are spending vacation at home and working through a budget in order to get back into the giving experience as soon as possible. There are other areas of ministry that we love with a passion, but the act of giving has been one of the most fulfilling. I cannot wait to continue and pray that God will open his floodgates of blessing upon us so that we can give even more extravagantly in the future.