This was the question that my bible study, “What Happens When Women Say Yes to God” asked me today.
If I had nothing, would I still be singing God’s praises?
When I first graduated college, I took a job that paid me minimum wage. My measly $5.15/ hour did not leave a lot of money for food, rent, and gas. Nope, I pretty much had to stick to a tight budget. I was fortunate that my parents gave me a car, so I didn’t have a car payment, and they allowed me to stay in their rental condo (for a small price of $300/month).
My first break came when I finally got a job offer that upped my pay to $7/hour. No kidding, this is what my Marketing Degree paid. Crazy, huh? To me though, it was a job, and it made more money than minimum wage.
I ate a lot of beans and rice. I did my best to stay away from credit card debt. I even moved to a place a little closer to work, so my gas tank didn’t need filled quite as often. One thing was missing in my life during this time. You know the man. He goes by Yahweh, Father, and oh yeah, God. God was never even part of the equation.
As I progressed in my “career” I started opening my eyes to God. In my mid twenties, I began going to bible study. I realized for the first time that God was missing in my life and I needed Him desperately. So, why am I telling you all this? Because I never recognized that I needed God until I was comfortable. Isn’t that interesting? I didn’t hit rock bottom for God to be revealed, I actually had hit a peak in my life. I reached out to thank God for the blessings He had given me: my job, my marriage to Pete, and my newly purchased home. Life was great for me, and I wanted to thank God for it. Nothing wrong with that, right?
This morning when I saw that question, I had to be honest with myself. I have never thanked God before when I was stripped of my comfort, in fact, I just ignored Him and tried to find a way out all by myself. Interesting, huh?
The last couple of months, God has stripped me of many comfort items. I have received blessings in the form of trials and challenges (I might add countless blessings) to remind me that I don’t need those items to be close to God. In fact, I am closer to God when those items are stripped from me. All of those comfort items, once they are peeled away, reveal God. It is like stripping away layer upon layer of crust to get to that beautiful, bright center of fruit. My burdens and trials seemed heavy at first, yet they all disappeared as I allowed God to take over and comfort me when all that fluff was stripped away. I didn’t need those items to make me happy and feel blessed. All I needed was God.
What have I done differently than in the past? I have spent countless hours with God. He has spoken to me through scripture, through sermons at church, through other people, through the newspaper (I know who would have thought?), and through nature. I have seen God give me insight into my daily decisions, and He has helped me conquer days that I know I never could have managed alone. Because I have spent time each day in prayer and reading scripture and listening to Christ-centered speakers, I am ready to take on my day.
Just in the last few months I have learned to see that even without all my comfort items, I have faith in God. I trust God. I am open to His plan for my life.
How about you? “If all the comfortable were stripped away, could we still sing our songs with authentic joy?”