I’ve finished my 3-part series and am relieved in a way. I miss blogging-blogging… you know, random thoughts or moments translated into profound revelations (or not). Like today…
For the past few weeks, it has been a blazing summer (even though summer technically just started Sunday). I haven’t seen or felt anything below the 90s in a while during the day. So, I’ve had to be creative in how and when I take the boys outside. From early park visits to water time or popsicle time outside, we’ve worked it out. Today, I took them to Barnes & Noble as they have a good kids’ area with a lego station and various little chairs and benches for reading. Not to mention the puppets and other toys so readily available to be “tested.” Before I knew it, it was past noon. No one had eaten lunch and I was closing in on downtime/naptime for everyone. “I have a bottle for the little one, so why not just stop somewhere and get lunch for the boys and a cool, refreshing treat for me?”
“No… I just went grocery shopping for the week 3 days ago.”
“Well, we can get a pretzel from Auntie Annie’s so we can make it to Food Lion then eat lunch at home.”
“No… I only took the amount of cash needed for Food Lion items.”
“Just use your card.”
“… and screw up the numbers in the account after E JUST paid the bills?? How exactly will I explain that one??”
What’s crazy is that I then walked into a clothing store and right in front of me was a shirt in a color I really like, in a material I really like, and cut in a style I really like. *Sigh* Walked away and out then left the mall altogether. Now, some of you may be looking at the above conversation in my head like, “What in the WORLD is wrong with ya’ll?? It is NOT that serious! You betta stop and feed those boys! It’s okay to treat yourself… etc etc etc.” In some people’s world, all of this may be true. But in mine, not so. Not now anyway.
Earlier this year, my husband blessed me/us with the opportunity to take Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University (FPU) course. It came on the tail end of talking about my student loans, me being a stay@home mom now only able to tutor online a few hours each week, doctor bills, etc. All I can say is every person, lover of God or not, should take the FPU course. Yes, I know everyone has their own opinions of Dave and his common sense methods; that’s to be expected. I don’t agree with EVERY SINGLE THING he presents in his process either. But some things I cannot deny are 1) Dave’s love for God, 2) his love for God’s Word, 3) his heart to give and help others get out of debt to give and 4) his ability to so clearly share Jesus to everyone who takes His class. I see the fruit in his life and have seen it in other people I know who’ve taken the class. No, it is NOT free, but it is worth the investment. Sow where you wanna go! Save your money and SIGN UP!!! http://www.daveramsey.com/fpu Now, back to today…
As a result of this class, we have been strategic about how we handle our finances through budgeting and prayer. As I kept battling with what to do/not do, I began to hear that still small voice talking to me. With every “No” that I told myself, it got louder. I was even at Food Lion, standing in front of the $1 goodies, looking at something the boys could share and I could have for myself when I just rolled my eyes, walked away and paid for my groceries. “We don’t need that junk.” But then, for a moment, I honestly was upset…
“Why do we have to be so ‘give every dollar a destination’ minded? Where’d all the money go that I used to be able to spend whenever? Oh yea… baby #3. Regular doctor appointments. Formula. Diapers. Van. Loan payments. I just wanna do what I wanna do when I wanna do it – now. This is SO UNFAIR! I still manage to give money or gift cards to other people but I can’t spend a few dollars on ME without going crazy in the head??!! I don’t want to do this anymore!!!”
You know what that still, small voice spoke to me??
“Selfishness, ungratefulness, greed, gluttony, no self-discipline, doubt, unbelief, inconsistency, Yet…My grace, My strength, My Spirit, My humility, My faith… and My forgiveness.”
Even though I did not spend any extra money anywhere, my heart before God was wicked. Filthy rags covered in the desire to be satisfied immediately versus waiting for and honoring what had already been established at home with our family. I reminded myself – this is the season I am in RIGHT NOW, so what does God want me to learn? It’s obvious now! The reality is that we have a new baby who, as every parent knows, cost every month with regular doctor’s visits, diapers, formula, food, etc. Add regular bills and student loans on one income, and it equals LIFE. Sacrifices have to take place – that’s how it is. We are in a season where we have to have a level of discipline in order to obey God’s Word concerning His money. Hence, the power of Delayed Gratification… the lesson I learned today. Even as it relates to God and eternity.
Many times, we as believers want to be satisfied when we want to be satisfied – now. We map out and justify what it is that we “need now” and when we see it, we want it… now. Oh to see the sin of Eve in our lives today. Tempted by her own desires, Eve took immediately the forbidden fruit in front of her to satisfy her flesh/her desires. It cost her everything. I wonder… what have I lost in satisfying my flesh immediately with things in my reach versus waiting for God’s provision? Has it been peace? Yep. Financial increase? Yep. Faith? Yep. And probably so much more.
What if I grasped the power of Delayed Gratification in the everyday things of life? I honestly feel God could strengthen me as my flesh dies. I feel He would be proud of how much the fruit of the Spirit flows out of my life. I feel He could trust me to love Him and wait for Him and eternity in a world fighting for my affections. I feel He would bless my children with fruit of my labor in killing my flesh – that they would be able to say NO to immediate gratifications in light of what is a greater reward in heaven. And, with them being boys in a lust-filled world, this is one thing I do pray they learn and apply at an early age.
Our family has established boundaries and goals. Though tempted, I did not cross those boundaries today but saw so clearly my dissatisfied heart. God has established boundaries and a goal in His Word. Though tempted, will we cross those boundaries and “do what we wanna do when we wanna do it” or will we grasp the power of self-discipline in Delayed Gratification so we can obtain Him in eternity?
I pray, for the body of Christ… it’s the latter.