I have a problem. Actually, I have a meta-problem – a problem with problems, in other words. Too often, instead of dealing with troubles head on, I ignore them and hope they go away. Wanna know something? They hardly ever do.
The way I deal with our family budget is a good example – and one that’s come back to bite me frequently. April and I have developed a pretty reasonable budget for ourselves, no small feat considering how poorly the two of us grasp financial concepts (we liken our understanding of budgets to our understanding of Inception: passable but dizzying). It’s a pretty good system as long as we both do our part throughout the week by keeping track of expenditures and sticking to the budget. When we don’t… *ahem*
I’ve tried for a long time to figure out why it’s so hard for me to stick to a budget. It finally clicked with me two days ago during a sermon about remaining in God’s will (preached by none other than NGYN’s own PJ Noland and handily recapped for your reading pleasure here). Sticking to a budget, or doing anything else well depends on the confluence of three things: trust, willingness, and obedience (it goes without saying for me that “well” is synonymous with “according to God’s will”).
Trust means believing that some process or plan will work for you. Elijah, for example, trusted that absolute faith in God could empower him to call down fire and rain from the sky. In my case, that means believing that God will provide financially for my family (and that I can go a few days without feeding my caffeine habit).
Willingness means taking action. It’s where the rubber meets the road. Joshua not only prayed to God to deliver him and the Israelites from the five Amorite kings, he fought and marched and led his people to victory. It’s one thing to plan, it’s another to carry out a plan. For me, this means actually driving past Starbucks no matter how good I know it smells inside and how awesome it is when a barista knows what you want before you order (and that is awesome).
Obedience is all about heart. It’s doing the right thing the right way for the right reason. The New Testament is chock full of tales of Jesus chastising the Pharisees for actively doing exactly what God told them to – praying, teaching, and helping others – but with a prideful heart of self-righteousness. I could stick to my budget every month, never spending more than I had and even giving my 10% back to God, but if I did it grudgingly or purely out of obligation I do not believe God would bless my actions. I would survive, financially, but never thrive.
I hide from my problems because I lack either belief, willingness to act, or a heart of obedience, or sometimes a little of all three. Troubles that arise from these circumstances will never go away on their own. It takes the deliberate exercise of mind, body, and spirit to overcome them.
“… Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength.” (Mark 12:30)