Too Busy Not to Pray

Hi friends!

The last twenty-four hours have been spent with a significant chunk of time devoted to prayer and thoughts on prayer. Part of this has to do with the fact that our small group will begin a discussion on that very subject (using Bill Hybels' book Too Busy Not to Pray) this Sunday evening. The other part has to do with my own inclinations to pursue what I want from life, even as I try to discover what it is that God desires for me.

If I'm being honest here, it's a battle for me every single day. I am equipped with the Spirit of the Living God, which means I have direct access to His power and His guidance. But I am also human and flawed by nature. So when I think I might have the right it really God's? I'm almost certain this is a question that has been asked millions of times, and my asking it makes no difference on how it will be answered.

So last night I prayed about this very subject. I approached the Lord (isn't it incredible to have the ability to do so? We don't have to wait for a mediator) and talked with Him about the two things I've been wrestling with the most, as of late: my job and my finances.

I've been working at a university for (approaching) three years. It was my first post-college job, and it's been a wonderful learning experience on everything from employee relationships, business standards, management, leadership, punctuality, organization, and communication. I was able to get married because I had a full-time position, with benefits that have been tremendous, and I've met some wonderful people along the way.

I've also learned that I have little patience for those who want the rewards of an education without making the effort. It's been an adjustment getting used to sitting at a desk all day and answering many of the same questions year after year. I've realized throughout this process that, while this job has been good for me, it's just that. A job. It's not my life and to treat it as such is to deny what other opportunities God might have in store for me, as well to deny myself a life that it grounded in the pursuit of Jesus over things of this world.

And so I asked Him to take away everything in my life that is prohibiting me from hearing His voice and responding to His will. I want to be obedient, and I want to be used wherever He needs me. If that's where I am, then alright. But I don't think it is...

The point here is that I don't know exactly what God has prepared for me, but I do know that He has blessed me with a talent: writing. And, as a follower, I will be asked to use that talent in order to bring glory to His name. Too often, it's easy for us to just say "What is God's will for my life?" But where's the excitement in knowing everything? The beauty is found in the mystery of His intricate plan, and in our obedience to Him. I don't need to know what will happen in order to trust that God will take care of me. He's proven His faithfulness to me time and again. And so I must be faithful in return. My purpose in asking God to take away what inhibits my obedience is two-fold: first, I know that I love Him and I love to write. I am filled with joy for these things, and I pray that God will use them together so that I can further serve Him...what I don't know is how; second, my finances are directly connected to my work status, but I rely on that far too much.

Let me explain a little more about that...

I have student loans, and so does Husband. In essence, two undergraduate degree and a master's underway are going to result in a balance that nears the price of a small home (here in the South, anyway). We've been as responsible as we can about all three of them, but a loan is debt, regardless of how careful one is about it. We also have a car payment (almost paid off, though! One more year!), credit cards, rent, utilities, phones, etc...We recently paid off one card, as well as my orthodontist bills, which will help out a good deal. And I have a 401(k), but it's not very much and I won't have access to those funds for thirty years. So Husband and I really want to focus our efforts on cutting back and spending less in order to eliminate our debt.

The Bible says that we should not be indebted to any man (Proverbs 22:7) and, while I don't think having credit cards is a sin (, it helps to create a good credit score if you use them wisely), we are not happy that much of our income goes straight back out to pay for our debt as soon as the direct deposits are made. I have no doubt that the Lord will provide, and Husband and I have been blessed to see the fruit of our consistent (and very recent) tithing efforts. That one has been particularly tough because it's a full 10% of our income every month, but since I know that what I have is given to me by God...why would I not offer it back to Him? It's a small way to thank Him for His provision in our lives, and another way to do that is to be more dedicated to getting ourselves back in the black. Having large amounts of debt, I believe, is not honorable to God. I like to think of my student loans as an investment in my future but, really, I want to be a writer...unless I become a NY Times Bestseller (which is definitely on my to-do list, but never a certainty!), there is small chance that I will make very much more than I do now. Which would not be problem...except for all our debt. You see how this works?

In short, what I'm trying to say is that I prayed for God to first put me in the position to hear what it is that He wants me to do next in my profession (either through reading the Word, quiet time with Him, or help from wise friends and family) and then to help me trust that, by doing so, our finances will be stable. I cannot be afraid that moving on to a lower-paying job, or quitting work altogether in order to volunteer my services elsewhere, will result in more debt and a frightening financial situation. I believe that God wants me to get rid of my debt, for precisely the reasons I mentioned earlier, and so I must also believe that Husband and I will be taken care of if we honor God's leading.

Taking these issues to the Lord in prayer was really risking exposure to how little faith I often have in Him. I found myself pausing, and it took me a full minute to actually say aloud "Lord, I ask that you take away anything in my life that does not allow me to hear what You have to say", and then to further request that He provide a place for me where I can be used to serve Him best. But once I said it, I was filled with the peace that doing so was the right thing. We should never be fearful of God, especially if what we're asking is for the chance to honor His will. That doesn't mean it shouldn't stretch us a bit (I know it did me!) or even mean risking it all for His sake, but that's entirely the point.

Until next time,



Christy Curley said...

It's funny how often we're all struggling with the same things. Our pastor just did a sermon on giving last week, and after talking in my small group, it's clear that this is a struggle for everyone. Scott and I don't have TOO much debt, but there are many times that, after paying bills, we have about $50 to get us to the next paycheck. It's a trying place to be for sure. And I think we're all guilty of not believing what we think we know of God. We don't trust Him to provide or guide us. We don't believe He can take away our fears or anxiety. It's sounds crazy to say, but if you look at how we respond, it's just the truth. We don't actually believe He will do what He's promised. I don't necessarily have a solution, but it's great that you're coming to that realization. That's probably the first step. Going to God in prayer would probably be the second. Since you've done both of those, I would think now you just wait and try to listen. And then actually be faithful to what He calls you to do. Which, as you said, can stretch you for sure! But at least you know that it will all work out and He will take care of you! Now just ask Him to make you believe it! :) This was very encouraging. Thanks for the post! :)

Melissa Hardy said...

You have no idea how much I needed that insight right now. Hubby and I are feeling the same way... thanks for voicing it and helping me feel that there are others in our same position! Looking forward to hearing how you guys are dealing w/ it all. Love you both!!!