Friday, January 4, 2013

Live by Faith or Buy Insurance?

We had dinner with a relative the other day and he explained that his parents are consolidating all their money interests and curbing expenses. When Obama got re-elected, he told me, they panicked. They imagine doomsday with the economy and the debt. They're hunkering down for disaster.

Earlier today my Peter warned me, "Mommy, you better get started on the Bible Study lesson. What if you can't get it done in time?"

His brother isn't sure anyone will come to our study.

My husband wonders if the furnace will cause a fire and burn down the house and what if our homeowners' insurance company finds out that we knew it was dangerous, and they decide not to cover the burned-down house?

Not everyone in this house has the gift of everyday faith. It's a spiritual gift...just one of many gifts that hold up the Church. I have it and my housemates have other gifts I don't have.

I've not questioned my ability to be prepared for Bible study. Prayer is the first order of business and I've done that several times a day for weeks now. The study preparation I can handle, but God must prepare the hearts.

I never questioned whether God would protect us while we use a faulty furnace, albeit as little as possible. I wear my winter jacket while I type this at midnight and the thermostat is set at 57 degrees, reducing the number of times it will come on while we sleep.

Do you have the gift of faith? Or at least a modicum of everyday faith? Or do you secure maximum insurance and pad your retirement accounts and do everything in your power to secure your today and tomorrow?

Are the uninsured and the under-insured irresponsible, while the insured are smarter and more grown-up?

I remember reading a story several months back that really changed my perspective on faith.

A woman described and compared two different ministry couples she knew. One couple only took ministry positions that payed well and allowed them to secure their future through savings and retirement accounts. The churches they chose to work for had to be well-established and offer excellent benefit packages.

The other couple worked for free or for next to nothing when necessary, going wherever ministry needs were greatest. They didn't have health benefits or the means to save for retirement. They didn't own a home.

As I read the woman's account, I predicted right away that the more faith-filled couple would make out the best.

But I was in for a shock.

Turns out the conservative couple enjoyed a comfortable retirement, taking trips when they desired and having good healthcare as they aged. They owned a nice home, besides.

The faith-filled couple reached retirement age and had to live in a run-down trailer with very little income and sometimes sparse food in the cupboards. The husband got sick and didn't get the best care because of their poverty. He died, leaving his wife in dire straights. Her local church did help her survive, but her lifestyle never reached a secure or comfortable point. Daily life was always a struggle and she always needed assistance from others, while the other couple, in contrast, lived independently.

However, the widow's faith remained strong. She was a blessing to spend time with despite her circumstances.

I often think about this contrast, these many months after reading it. At first I was horrified that God hadn't repayed the humble couple's faith and sacrificial service. In my opinion they deserved more than the couple who put themselves first and only worked in convenient ministry.

And for a few days after reading it, I worried about my own precarious present and future. I'm putting my heart into my family now, but will God repay my service and take care of me as an old woman? When my older-than-me husband has to retire, how will I supplement our retirement incomes and secure health benefits for us? How will I continue to support some of our children, particularly our youngest who might suffer long-term disability from her arthritis, either because of her eye involvement, or her joints, or both? And what if Peter who suffers from several disorders can't support himself very well?

I don't know any answers and I haven't had a female exam in three years. I'm late in getting that first mammogram. It's on my list but money often has to go for repairs rather than doctor or clinic appointments.

Will I end up in a run-down trailer, too? Will I die young because of poor healthcare?

What does faithful service really get us in the end? What's the reward...if any?

John 14:27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.

Oh, yes. 

That's it...isn't it? His Presence. His Peace. Not as the world gives. Our faith is credited to us as righteousness. Our reward isn't here. 

On earth, peace, joy, love. In heaven, we will reign with Him in glory. 

When people went to visit the poor widow they went away refreshed and amazed by her faith. She delighted her visitors with her joyful, quiet spirit. She pointed them to Him, through her joy and peace.

He received the glory for the way she handled her circumstances. The circumstances were an avenue to bring him glory, just as her entire life was.

Who gets the glory when retirement turns out perky and comfortable, because of years of carefully planned and calculated decisions? The planner does. People congratulate him or her on effective portfolio and estate management.

When we purpose to live for Him...trusting tomorrow to Him...who gets the glory in the end? 

Not State Farm, but the Almighty Living God. Our God is mighty to save and he never leaves us nor forsakes us.

I didn't get it right away, but now I know who got the better deal in the end. 

image source


Tesha said...

Oh wow this was so moving and inspiring! I love this, "He received the glory for the way she handled her circumstances. The circumstances were an avenue to bring him glory, just as her entire life was" another quote to add to your book:) I have to admit my husband is the one in our house with great faith, mine flounders sometimes. Mostly about health issues and money which is so silly because we are abundantly blessed. My husband is self employed which is a daily test of faith because we do not know what calls will come. His pastoral work is 100% volunteer that means his business must support us and pay not only our tithe but a monthly hefty offering to pay the church bills. (We minster in a very expensive area to most low income people) I am amazed at how good God is always coming through sometimes in truly miraculous ways. This reminds me how important my faith is and that my husbands needs the encouragement of my unwavering faith. love to you today sweet friend.

Christine said...

Self-employment is like farming, maybe? They are dependent on God to bring good weather, and you are dependent on Him to bring in customers? Sounds like a life with the right kind of rewards! My son Paul wants a baking business on the side, as he works as a classroom or college teacher. His brother sometimes talks about a pet store business, but he mainly wants to be a farmer.

Thank you for all your good feedback and your kindness and love, Tesha!