We are officially on the downward slope of the fall semester. Thanksgiving is now merely a pleasant memory and exam week is almost upon us. That means this is the last Monday Memo of the semester. And we are about to finish our discussion of “Godly Values which drive Good Decisions”…today is the final installment:
Finances: The funds and material possessions of life are just “things.” I will not allow their pull to be a chief decision maker in my life. Moreover, God is the ultimate owner, I am merely His caretaker.
I list this value last because I want financial matters to have the least amount of sway in my decision making. Now, that is easy to say if you have a job and your bills paid. But if the economy has hit you as hard as it has the rest of the country, the issue of finances might end up being the TRUMP card in all your decisions. But should it?
Angie and I learned early on that wise management of money is a learned behavior as well as a matter of trust. First, the learned behavior: you only spend what you have. In a consumer-driven society where constantly we are bombarded by the latest and the improved…the joy of life can easily become inextricably entangled with our possessions. If we become what we own; how do we say, “No.” A way out is the matter of trust; none of the stuff is actually yours; everything is owned by the Lord! We are merely care-takers of His garden.
Now, I could give you story after story which cemented this value in our marriage. It all began for us as God was trying to teach us a life of stewardship as a young Christian couple. But I must admit that it is easy to be obedient when you have two good paying jobs and are building a nest-egg. Our most profound faith-building time came profoundly as graduate students who were terribly under-funded yet we were never more satisfied in following the Lord.
Now, I have finished describing Angie’s and my “Godly values.” Have you caught the key ingredient which stands behind each of the values? Each principle is wondrously colored and divinely nuanced by our story. In the faith-building trenches of life, we have personally “fleshing out” each of these principles. Principles can be life-less bones until the Lord Himself breathes upon them and they live (Ezekiel 37). Moreover, these principles are not easily transferred from my life to yours. You can take them as guidelines (bones, if you will). But then allow the Lord to add tendons, muscle, and most of all His breath (Spirit) through His life intersecting with yours; creating your life-story.
So, maybe you have already begun and just have not written then summary principles down. For principles do not determine a “Godly Life.” Sorry if I ever gave you that impression in the past 8 Monday Memos. No, the “Godly Values” Angie and I have articulated arose as the Breath/Spirit of God moved across our often chaotic lives and created a “Divine Story.”
This Advent Season; let me encourage you to allow your story to be (re)written by the same hands which placed the stars in their celestial positions so all the heavenly host could proclaim;
“Glory to God in the highest heaven;
And on Earth, Peace to those on whom His favor rests” (Luke 2).
What a great way to start your Godly Values; for your story to intersect with His!
May we not seek principles alone; but rather may we seek the person of Christ.
May we find our stories to wondrously intersect with His grander story.
May we find the Advent season to be the incarnation of God’s Story; beginning with an infant invasion.
May we see Jesus’ story as the place where God’s new exodus begins;
May He start with us.