Saturday, June 09, 2012
Of Being Prepared
So last month I reread a book on my shelves, a biography about one of my favorite artists, a book stuffed full of her paintings. It's altogether lovely, what with all those colors and prints of happy times and people and details from her early life, except that this time I noticed something which bothered me much.
There was not one mention of God.
Neither the author nor the artist gave any credit to God for all these paintings, no one mentioned, not even one time, about this being a God-given talent. No words expressed thanks for His inspiration or help or anything else.
And by the end of the book? I felt incredibly thirsty for the things of God. And disappointed. And quite tempted to give the book away--a temptation I think I'll obey.
I believe God wants us to aim for having all our decisions, motives, actions, thoughts, plans and well--everything--to originate from His heart. I believe He wants us to live so closely to Him that throughout the hours of our days we're not only obeying Him, but responding to His smallest, tiniest thoughts and desires for us.
Anyway, I brought that up because Tracy asked what sorts of things am I doing to be better prepared should Tom be laid-off again or decide to retire early. And so, what am I doing? I'm trying to hear from God as to what I should do. I so don't want to make this sound (or have it be) like Here's What I Am Doing So That I Will Have All My Bases Covered In Case Of An Emergency Because God Won't Help Me If I Don't.
Instead, I so desire to obey God in every single area of my life. And too, if I do things God's way, then that makes a sort of clear path for Him to keep on helping me should everything change down the road.
Obedience today opens lots of future doors tomorrow.
I hope that makes sense and I hope that none of you walk away from my blog feeling as (unsatisfyingly) thirsty for truth as I did when I'd finished that art book.
But quickly, the practical side? When Tom was laid off, I remember feeling sorry that we'd not had more money in savings, at least enough for 6 months (we had enough for maybe 2), for I'd been procrastinating setting more money aside for years (tsk, tsk). But thankfully, Tom was given a severance check --though not a huge amount of money, it was a huge blessing and added about another 6 months' worth of savings.
I also recall regretting that my cupboards were only half-full of stock-up items, not completely full. And too, I wished I'd replaced my worn-out dishtowels (as God had been nudging me to), regular bath towels, also, and I'd procrastinated buying a few new clothes to replace my old, tired farm ones (all things which, in a financial crunch, are seen as not necessary enough to spend money replacing).
Note the recurring theme there? Procrastination. Sigh.
We did some things right, though. We had no car payment and we weren't in debt to credit cards. The only amount on our credit card was the expenses from our vacation which we were set to take four days after the lay-off, expenses which we paid as soon as we arrived home. Too, we have always tithed--always. And always will.
So! What I'm doing now is taking conscientious, pro-active steps to do each of those things I'd regretted not doing--with the marvelous reprieve I've been granted--so that I'll not be caught unready the next time.
Though again! All by God's leading and not at all by any fear of lack, for oh... I only shared with you these past 20 months half of the ways God flew in with miracles in His pockets for us over those 20 months. In fact, we came out of those months in better financial shape than when we went in (!) and only a huge, merciful (merciful, merciful) God can do a thing like that.
Only He can ... and it's vital to me that He receive all the credit because it was all Him, after all. Tom and I only tried to follow along behind Him, to hold onto the hem of His robe, as He sliced our way through the wild Unemployment Jungle for us.
So--more tips of how you can prepare for a possible (or likely) change in finances?
Pretend that today your source of income has dried up. What should you have done earlier to prepare? Which credit cards could you have paid off? Which new items should you have bought so to replace old, nearly-worn-out ones? Think along those lines and study ways online, in books and magazines about how to stock-up food and other items wisely. Make lists of things you wish to conquer while budgeting some money monthly so to be better prepared within a year or so. This will probably mean making a few sacrifices, but the peace of mind will be worth it.
Also, list ways of having fun for free or low cost. And too, if you're not sure what your gifts/callings are--or if you have no hobbies--find out what they are now so you'll have good, productive ways to spend any spare time you may have later on after a lay-off. These are ways that you can sow being a blessing to others and reap wonderful blessings in return.
But again--be led by God in all things ... and leave the procrastination behind. :)
"For the Lord God is our sun and our shield. He gives us grace and glory. The Lord will withhold no good thing from those who do what is right." ... Psalm 84:11
"Man's mind plans his way, but God directs his steps." ... Proverbs 16:9
I think all of Joyce Meyer's messages are great, but I especially loved this one today.