I have never blogged before. That’s probably because I generally have a tendency to go completely off tangent. I start off talking about computer programming and end up talking about how carrots used to be purple with hints of ‘squirrel moments’ in between. But here goes:
I would describe myself as a fairly happy person; I really like to laugh and be silly and especially like to make inappropriate comments. My friends call these “Stuart jokes”. I don’t really like to take anything too seriously, which annoys my wife and most of the time, if something bad happens, my first thought is to make light of the situation.
I can take almost anything that life throws at me and laugh it off. Don’t get me wrong; things upset me, but I get over these very quickly and I am soon making jokes about them.
But when it comes to finances, it is a completely different story. If you want to hit me in an area I don’t find funny, it is to do with money. Every month, for years, it has been the same cycle. I get paid, pay the bills and whatnot and then I always think, regardless of whether it is true or not, that we do not have enough money for the month. It is a worry that isn’t based on facts. It just happens. So as a result, I will not spend money unless I have to and most of the time it will be on essential things only. At this point, a million things run through my head that make me crippled with worry- Things like: what if we don’t have enough money for the kids to eat? Or what if I cannot put petrol in the car? what if I can’t afford to get the bus if I can’t put petrol in the car?
My wife on the other hand is on the other end of the spectrum when it comes money. she doesn’t seem to worry about it in the least. Last year, she asked me whether she could buy a some make up brushes by some company called MAC and I said, sure, why not, treat yourself, thinking in my head it will be about £5 or £10, so she brought them home and showed them to me and they just looked like makeup brushes. the packaging looked fine enough and there were 5 different sized brushes in the box so I thought, yep, I must be spot on with my valuation of £5! I then said: let’s go get a Nandos without a care in the world, and felt no worry whatsoever about money. I was really happy thinking that maybe I’d turned a corner when it comes to this area. And then I asked a passing question just for my curiosity about how much the brushes cost.
All of a sudden, the fear, worry and anxiety came flooding back! And once again there went my mind: “petrol to the Trafford Centre, ice cream for the kids, Nandos, MAC brushes…” and on and on it went…
I began to panic thinking it’s the first week of the month! We won’t be able to afford anything! Why did I let her buy this? We’re going to lose our house! The kids are not going to be able to eat! we won’t be able to afford nappies! Why are carrots orange??? Aaagggghhhhhh!!
And I literally didn’t sleep that entire month and just buried my head in the sand (By the way ostriches do not bury their heads in the sand they would not be able to breathe) I would not look at the bank account at all as I feared that it would be showing minus pounds.
And this is basically what was happening every month. I would start off ok, but by the second week I would be stressed.
It all changed at the beginning of this year, my wife and I began the year by setting ourselves new challenges based on the things that cripple us with fear. Mine was of course finances so after watching a good talk that my wife had found by Rob Morris on the matter, I set myself a challenge to tithe 10% of our income first, before anything at all was paid and before the security of whether we would be ok financially or not. My head was saying all the usual things. But I agreed to try it for 3 months and if at the end of the 3 months our finances were no better or worse, I would stop tithing this way and go back of doing it my way” (My way consists of only tithing AFTER all the bills and other things had been paid).
So I took the challenge. In the first month, the car broke down. In my head I was like “see? the money we gave to the tithe could have paid for this!”. But then something amazing happened; that day we got a tax rebate. Now you could say that was a coincidence (and I did) but then the next month I got PPI refund on a credit card that I paid off years before.
n the third month of the trial by tithe, my wife and I were desperate for a holiday and like usual my response was “No, I’m not sure we cannot afford it”. But I really wanted to go so as I paid my tithe, I prayed and said “God, you have not let me down so far. Thank you for the extra money we have had, but I am asking very selfishly for some money for my family and I to go on holiday”.
Later that day, I got a letter from the Credit Card company that gave us the PPI back in February saying that there had been a mistake in the amount we had received. My heart sank thinking we would have the pay back the money they mistakenly gave us. So I called and gave all my details and they said: “Yes, we have made a mistake in the amount owed for your PPI, you are owed an extra amount on top of what we have already given you!” Well, my jaw almost fell to the floor! I can tell you, we had an amazing holiday!
Even this month again money “owed” to us came through allowing us to do certain things as a family.
The moral of the story is; you cannot out-give God. 7 months later, I am still tithing first, and God is still coming through. I would love to tell you that I don’t worry about money anymore, but I am still a work in progress. One thing I know for sure now though, is that however big my worry is, God is always one step ahead.
So if you are thinking of starting to tithe, I would wholeheartedly say, do it! even if you start off as a 3-month trial. and you will see for yourself that you cannot out give God.
And I would just like to end with this; many people think that bulls get angry when they see the colour red; but bulls are actually colour-blind.
“Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the LORD Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it”.