I’ve been thinking about this post since day one of deciding to write this series, but I can’t think of how to start. “And then God gave us $10,000” is catchy, but leaves out vital background information. “There’s a lot of things $10,000 can change, but not my attitude” was another consideration, but not entirely truthful.
Now I’m thinking I might just share my entire journal entry from a life-changing night. My permission to read my diary might snuff all the fun out of it, but here you are anyway:
Tuesday, December 15, 2015
Someone just anonymously gave us $10,000.
Lord, how many times have I begged You in the past three years to do something? How many stories have I read about your provision that I am now a part of?! How many times have I questioned why You’re making me wait?
Every day. Every hour. I want what I want.
A gift – this is a gift. It feels weird. Given anonymously. Received anonymously. It could be a gift like any other gift – fun, exciting. It could be a trip around the world. A vacation unlike any other. Even a portion of it, and we could be on the beach in a week, drinking and eating all we want. Sleeping in a huge bed where we don’t even touch each other.
We’ve decided to use it to pay off student loans 6, 7, and 8. And part of 9. Out of 18, so we’ll be halfway done.
It’s sort of… lackluster.
I hate to say this, but it came at an unexpected time, in an unexpected manner, but it wasn’t wholly unexpected. I’ve been waiting for this. Asking for this. Feeling missionary-entitled to this.
And isn’t this… abnormal? That a worry about money is what ultimately caused us to have this money? When your worry is that you don’t have enough money, isn’t God supposed to give lessons instead of cash? Doesn’t He teach us about the birds of the air and the lilies of the field, or that the love of money is the root of all evil? Or is He really the God who actually gives us what we ask for?
So I’ve accepted this money, spent it already in my head… and I feel selfish. Like I got a gift, but it was my birthday. Like I got candy, but it was Halloween, and maybe I’ve already eaten too much.
I’ve accepted this with one eyebrow raised. A gift expected – asked for – can it be accepted with the same gratitude as a surprise?
God, at least this once, You were who I expected You to be! Finally, here You are showering your subjects in kingly gold instead of riding in on a donkey!
Can’t I be relieved and happy that He is who I “needed” him to be?
Maybe my attitude this whole time has been unbelief. I’ll ask for this because I know You will withhold it, and then I will have something against You. Something to blame You for. The cross to which I’ll nail all my woes at You, God! I asked but did not receive – see, You are a liar!
Maybe I haven’t been who I imagined I was. And You aren’t who I’ve been imagining You to be, are You, God?
Even if God is answering my prayer after three years (and that feels like a long time), He still has:
– answered my prayer
– moved someone to give this money. This could have been all they had.
– given us a gift of $10,000 and made us move closer to being free of student debt.
It still feels like, Oh, you heard me now, God? After I used the internet to my advantage? I feel like, by sending what I did to Tammy, I knew I was getting the ball rolling. Is that why I feel selfish? Because I feel like I did this? You wouldn’t do anything, so I had to act. So I manipulated someone into having pity on me, and they felt bad enough that they gave us $10,000.
But that sounds crazy doesn’t it?! And what really did I do? Brett and I had a really hard budget meeting last month. We had new medical bills. We were behind where we wanted to be with student loan payments, which take up more of our budget than rent, utilities, and groceries combined. It looked like we couldn’t even afford Christmas. We went to bed frustrated, with no answers, and I was worried. I cried… The next morning, December 3, I drove to work sick with anxiety. Right when I walked in the door, I got this text from Tammy (a group text to the whole choir):
Have you said hello to the Lord this morning? Cultivate an awareness of His active presence with you all day long. Read Hebrews 13:5. ❤ u – Tammy
Hebrews 13:5 says, “Keep your lives free from the love of money, and be content with what you have, because God has said, ‘Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.'”
Immediately, I started sobbing in my office. It felt so personal that I sent it to mom asking if she got the same text! It touched on my worries about money, but also hit the nail on the the head with how I was feeling toward God. He’s not helping. He’s forgotten me.
I emailed Tammy the story, because she had asked the choir and everyone involved with the Vista program to send her stories about how God had shown up unexpectedly in this season. “Unexpected” was the theme of the program this year. I gave her some background on our student loans and desire to be missionaries so she would know where my feelings came from. Then, when the program was over, she posted the stories on a secure site where only those involved could read them. She made them all anonymous.
Then someone saw my story and gave Brett and I $10,000.
After mom sent me some weird texts tonight about Tammy asking where I live and stuff, I thought I might see her at our door. Sure enough, there was a knock, and mom and Tammy were there. I invited them in, moving dirty socks off the couch so they could sit down. Tammy handed me and envelope and video taped Brett and I reacting. I couldn’t even read the letter because I was crying. Mom and Tammy said, “Thank you, Jesus,” and, “Praise the Lord” so many times, but I’m not sure if I said it once.
Lord, after all this eucharisteo talk [aka reading One Thousand Gifts] and everything You’ve done, why can’t my lips praise You? Why does it feel strained? Why am I talking to a stranger? To a dull feeling inside of me?
What is this world, God? What is this relationship we’re supposed to have?!
I’m going to put this money in my bank account and use it to pay off loans 6-8. But what about You and me?
It would feel better to give it to my neighbors. Lord, give it to someone who actually needs it, so I can still say You don’t listen to me, You don’t care for me, You’ve given me a passion that just ends in a brick wall.
Lord, why do I want to be angry with You? Why do I want to hold things against You? Lord, with this money, what are You telling me?
– You’ve made good, selfless people who listen to their hearts and do what they’re prompted to do
– There’s enough to go around. Money isn’t in short supply for everyone
Are You saying that You love me? Are You saying that You hear me? Are You saying that You want me to be a missionary?
I feel like an unbeliever who has manipulated a believer into giving me money. What a con!
I don’t know what I really should do with it. Cabo? Tempting. Down payment on a house? Give it to someone – anyone – so I don’t have to deal with what God is doing or saying?
I feel like I can’t even tell people about this. I feel like I would be judged. Or envied.
Are You saying that You hear me? Are You saying that You love me? Are You teaching me a money lesson? Are You teaching me an expectations lesson? Are You mad at me?
Who gets $10,000 from a stranger and asks if God is mad at them?!
The stranger said they wanted us to use the money to pay our debts. That they believe that Brett and I will be missionaries one day. They said they wanted to be anonymous so we would only have one person to thank – God. But I want to know if they really believe that. I want to know if they’ll feel joy when they see $10,000 drain from their bank account tomorrow. I want to know what God told them. I want to hold onto their faith for dear life.
And I’m the wannabe missionary.
Stranger, you are more a missionary to me right now than I have ever been. You have given me so much to think about regarding God.
Maybe sometimes God gives what we ask for, instead of teaching a lesson.
Are You saying that You love me? Are You saying that You hear me? If I keep asking, will I keep receiving?
Did I really want money… or answers? Now I have money, and more questions.
God, what are Your answers for me, with this money?
No, I am not holding you captive.
It’s not enough to pay off all of it, but I want you to be encouraged.
I might have just caught a glimpse of Jesus saying, What do you want to talk about money for? Of course I love you!
Lord, I don’t want to hold things against You anymore! I don’t like this relationship. Every time I think I let go, I must still be holding on. I don’t want to mistrust You. Help me see Your steadfastness. Help me trust.
I see You outside the boat, holding out Your hand. Do you trust me? You ask. I want to! I want to feel firm water between my toes – a complete paradox. Me hand in hand with You. I want the beautiful adventures. I want Your happiness, and I want to smile.
Let our giver experience joy beyond measure this Christmas. Yes. That’s all I can ask for right now.
It’s a gift. It’s a gift. With a gift, givers say:
– I was thinking about you. You are on my mind 24/7.
– I wanted to give you something. Everything. EVERY thing.
– I love you. I LOVE you, I LOVE YOU.
– I hope this makes you smile. And laugh and dance for me!
– What’s mine is yours. Take it. Take it!
I’m ending here for now, but will be posting a part 2 in a couple days. If you’re interested in attending this year’s version of the Christmas program that changed my life, I’m singing in this thing, and I’m inviting you:
Choose from the following 7 programs in 4 locations. HILLIARD: Sun., Nov., 27, 6 p.m. @ Makoy Center, 5462 Center St., Hilliard, OH 43026. MARYSVILLE: Sun., Dec., 4, 6 p.m. @ Marysville High School, 800 Amrine Mill Rd., Marysville, OH 43040. WORTHINGTON: Sat., Dec., 10, 2:30 & 6 p.m. @ Thomas Worthington High School, 300 W. Dublin Granville Rd., Worthington, OH 43085. DUBLIN: Sun., Dec., 11, 11 a.m, 2:30 & 6 p.m. @ Dublin Jerome High School, 8300 Hyland-Croy Rd., Dublin, OH 43016