Guest post – Fear is my middle name. We are well acquainted. So are many people living in this country. Fear follows you when you leave your house at night. Fear breathes down your neck when you see protests flash on the T.V. screen. Fear drives people onto one-way flights. But in my case, the state of this country does not inject fear into my veins. Sure, it’s not pleasant. Sure, I’m sometimes scared. But my fear is driven by something deeper. It’s fuelled by a frightening uncertainty and, frankly, a lack of trust.
Allow me to put you in the picture. I’ve dreamed of being a stay-at-home mom all my life. It was never “not an option” for me. Ever.
After my first year of teaching, I was ready to give up and, due to a number of circumstances, I left my job. Then I assumed God would give me something else. Which He did. It was only a term. But it was something. I fully expected Him to give me another job but I sat on the first day of the second term at home and unemployed. Yet, before the end of the week, I had another short-term job lined up. And so each month went. Just when we were running low on cash, I got a phone call or someone would leave an envelope in my husband’s pigeon hole or on my dad’s desk containing some life-saving notes. And that’s how we coped that year on “one salary”. Purely by God’s grace.
Fast forward a few years. I had a good job that paid a pretty good salary. And, I was happy. All except for one thing. I desperately wanted to start a family. But the more we reviewed our financial state, the more we realised that it was going to be hard to live off one salary. Because, technically we hadn’t done it before. It had been supplemented by the goodwill of other people. I’ll never forget someone saying that if you wait to have enough money, you’ll never have kids – you’ll never have enough money to have kids.
I had to convince my husband. He, despite being the one to generally trust the Lord, was the one holding back. I, on the other hand, was ready to jump forward in faith with both feet!
Around the same time, we started baby talk, there was talk about our inheriting a decent sum of money. But that’s all it was and, in fact, it seemed too good to be true.
On the last day of October, we sat in the kitchen after church and I brought up the baby debate again. My husband told me that he wanted to wait another 6 months until we knew if we were going to inherit this money or not. He must have mentioned something about trusting God for the right time. I looked him in the eye and responded simply,
“When you have the money in your hand, it’s no longer trusting God.”
And, after he paused for a few moments, he looked at me without another argument and said,
A month later, I was pregnant. Two months later I resigned.
It was quite a scary moment to be asked the school principal whether I was sure I wanted to resign. I was sure! But now my salary had an end date and I couldn’t change my mind if things became turbulent and we needed an income. I wouldn’t be able to wake up and decide that thank you very much but I’d like my job back please. A week later, I tapped out the resignation letter and handed it in as a mere formality. My teaching days were now numbered and the countdown began.
We were two months away from due date and I was lounging, if one can, in a chair with the other staff at work. A message came through and I glanced at it half-heartedly. Then, as fast as a pregnant woman can, I sat bolt upright and studied the massive amount that had just been transferred into my husband’s bank account. I honestly thought I would never see the day that we inherited money like this, nor did I think God would provide in this way for us. It seemed too good to be true!
The house we had built and now struggled to afford became affordable. And we were able to pay for much more. If that wasn’t “enough”, my provident fund paid out a nice sum too when I left work a month later. We decided to use it as my “salary” until it was no more. To make things even sweeter, I unexpectedly managed to score UIF even though I had resigned! For the next year, finances were secure. In twelve months, I fully expected to have something on the go.
Man, were we so thankful that the Lord provided so abundantly. At the beginning of June, only a month away from our baby arriving, we hadn’t known how we would cover our costs. By the end of June, we had an impressive figure in our bank account and enough money over and above that for day-to-day living. I worked out that we would manage until February just fine using my provident fund.
We didn’t expect the Lord to answer our prayers with such an incredible amount and with no work on our part. Sure, we had to be careful. And yes, there were times when the amount looked so spectacular that we thought it would be just fine to splash out.
In the January of the following year, I decided to start up a small home industry project and make gluten free goodies. I thought I’d hit the jackpot when small shops, with very little effort on my part, agreed to stock my goods. God had come through yet again! I made sure I’d set this up before money ran out. And although I seriously disliked the rigmarole of keeping everything separate and free of cross-contamination, I had an extra income.
But as the last of the money dwindled and the reality of tedious baking hours between chasing a crawling tot around sobered me up, I realised that we would not make ends meet on a meagre few hundred rand extra each month. And I couldn’t increase my baking hours. Reality began to set in again.
We began to pray more earnestly.
As God often does, He came through at the eleventh hour. Tax season, baby! We got a tax rebate. It would tide us over for another few months. Just when that was about to run out, it was December again and my husband got his bonus. Again, the Lord had come through.
There were often times when our faith wobbled and wavered. It was scary. But we always had enough. There were some weeks when I wondered how we would buy milk the next week. But God came through, time and time again!
January 2019 saw me heavily pregnant again and finances low. We couldn’t afford one child never mind two but Baby 2 was about to make an appearance. Praise God February would bring in another tax rebate and help us over the next few months. My gluten free goodies were no longer a possibility now with two “tinies” and only one me. It was way too time consuming.
I silently hoped that someone would throw us a second baby shower and ease the pocket of nappy expenditure. A few weeks before, God heard my silent wish and my husband’s work spoilt us. And just when I had made peace with the fact that my friends probably didn’t plan on one, I was surprised with one less than 24 hours before the birth. (Many were none the wiser about the scheduled caesar date.) I could breathe a little easier knowing we had a decent stock of the essentials and wouldn’t need to find money to diaper our baby.
I started a blog, hoping to soon earn money from it. But, it proved harder than I thought; in fact, just about impossible.
But yet again, as He had done before, God prompted people to gift us with the odd bag of groceries or an envelope.
But yet again, money vanished. So far, we had managed to steer clear of our savings account. Based on our current track record, I assumed God would continue to protect our savings. But, here we were and I assumed wrong. We began to dip into savings. And soon, savings were looking sad. And suddenly panic that had consumed me many years ago began to rear its ugly head. I had no idea how we were going to manage. Reserves depleted and way past Plan C, we had no idea how we were going to keep on. It was a scary place to be.
There have been several moments in my life when I’ve thought we couldn’t trust God any more than we were with our finances. There have been many times when I’ve felt a deep-rooted fear. Fear in the face of uncertainty. Fear because there was no assurance of an income. Fear driving decisions we made instead of trusting God. There have been other times when I’ve felt complete peace, complete trust and have been completely at rest. But then, we are always pushed a touch further.
When is it really trust? Are we really trusting God if we have a back-up plan in case He doesn’t come through? I think you know the answer as well as I do. God had brought us to a place where we had nowhere else to turn but to Him. There were no more back up plans, no more secure pockets of cash. We now had two choices – trust Him and believe that He would provide or try and make a plan for ourselves. My husband often prayed that I would trust God more. Now I was having to put my faith into practice – I had nothing left and control was now beyond me. God had brought me to the end of myself and had made me solely reliant on Him. The real test now lay before us.
The lyrics of Oh my Soul sang softly in my head,
Oh, my soul
Oh, how you worry
Oh, how you’re weary, from fearing you lost control
This was the one thing, you didn’t see coming
And no one would blame you, though
If you cried in private
If you tried to hide it away, so no one knows
No one will see, if you stop believing
It was true. I didn’t see God bringing us to this. But maybe, just maybe I was exactly in the place He wanted me.
Oh, my soul
You are not alone
There’s a place where fear has to face the God you know
One more day, He will make a way
Let Him show you how, you can lay this down
‘Cause you’re not alone
All He wanted me to do was to put one foot in front of the other. He was holding out His hand to me (I always think of Aladdin when I hear this) and asking me,
Do you trust me?
Lyrics of What if I Gave Everything ring true…
So why am I still standing here?
Why am I still holding back from You?
You’ve given me a faith that can move a mountain
But I’m still playing in the sand
Building little kingdoms that’ll never stand
I hear You call me out into deeper waters
But I settle on the shallow end
I’m so tired of standing here
What if I gave everything to You?
And when I reluctantly put my hand in His and I couldn’t see through the fog of impossibility, He was walking the uncertain road ahead of me and willing me to put one foot in front of the other on the sure ground He had already walked on – He was busy making my path straight. I might hear scary things along the way – not the sound of wolves howling in the valley of the shadow of death but the subtle doubting questions of distrusting sceptics. I may wander off the path thinking I know better from time to time. But when I slip, He will be holding me. When I doubt, I will feel the reassurance of His presence one step ahead of me as He guides me with His right hand.
All I need to do is put my hand in His, have faith and not fear and just…trust!