Three years ago, I had it all figured out. I had our family on a strict budget, we were debt free, we never over-spent and every penny was managed. There was no way that money was an idol. It was all under control.
But then I asked God to search my heart…
What followed was a tumultuous journey. One that led me to places I never thought I needed to go.
It started with involvement in a number of conferences on how to be successful as a Christian. I learned many things – how to understand people better, how to focus… and how to make more money.
I imagined making great amounts of money to help others around the world. I imagined being rich in spirit and in pocket. I even studied scriptures in Proverbs that backed up what I was learning.
And then it all came crashing down.
My husband and I made a humiliatingly bad business decision. We went in to debt for it and ended up dragging some dear friends along with us into the same fate.
When I look back now, I can see there were all kinds of warning signs – all kinds of nudgings from God not to get involved in this business. Yet my deceived heart spurred me on in the wrong direction and convinced me it was the right decision.
What followed was a few months of dire straits. Our family income was pared down to a few measly cheques from Husband’s main, still-new business. We became forced to rely on God.
I can’t tell you how many times I prayed about money during that time. Every prayer was about us and our needs.
And then I noticed something else – my moods changed according to how God ‘answered’ those prayers. If I knew money was coming in, I was joyful and things were going well. If money was tight and I didn’t know how we were going to pay the next bill, I was irritable and full of anxiety.
And it hit me…
If something has the ability to alter my emotions so drastically, it must be an idol.
What? But how could that be? We weren’t big spenders! We tithed! We budgeted!
But God showed me that those things didn’t matter if my heart was still wrong. If I thought of money often… if I longed to control it… if I looked to my own budgeting skills rather than to God…
If I think of something more than I think on God, it’s likely an idol.
And there begun a lesson in letting go, and letting God instead. I repented, and then I failed. I repented again, and failed again. On and on and on as God walked me through changing my mindset to trust in Him above all else.
God introduced me to Gospel for Asia and I read books such as No Longer a Slum Dog (you can get this book free) and Road to Reality. My whole perception of wealth changed. He was truly working on my heart. If you haven’t read the books, I highly recommend them.
A few months later I had another opportunity to attend the same success conference. I felt I needed to go. This time, however, it was very different.
I was shocked at how much the conference had changed! I couldn’t believe how much of it was about making money! At one point, the instructor asked the audience how many people needed more money. Every hand shot in the air… except mine.
I don’t need more money, I thought. I just need more GOD.
Afterwards, I was able to share my thoughts about the conference with another attendee. I mentioned how the focus had changed to focus on money so much… different than the other conferences before.
She told me it hadn’t changed. They were ALL like that before.
And then it hit me.
I changed. My blinders were removed and I was able to see my life and idolatry for what it was. Does that mean everyone at this conference is a slave to money? No. I can’t speak for them. Only God knows their hearts. He used this conference to show me mine.
So do I walk a life completely free of idolizing money now? No. I still screw up all the time.
But bit by bit, God is showing me how to trust in Him. I’ve let go of trying to control every cent and let God do it instead. I ask Him before I purchase items (most of the time). I ask Him to provide when we’re waiting on cheques to arrive but the bills are due today.
And he always comes through.
And I worry much, much less than I used to… trusting in my Saviour instead.
So I challenge you today… does money affect your emotions? Is it possible that it is an idol in your life even if you’re certain it isn’t? What are your true motives?
Ask God to show you your heart… if you dare…