I was in the hospital, a young mom sick with cancer. The phone beside the bed rang and I picked it up. I was careful to avoid the tubes and IV’s as I held it to my ear. I almost cried when I realized it was from the mortgage company.
They had tracked me . . . all the way to the hospital.
I don’t know if I’ve ever felt as defeated or helpless as I did that day. My young husband was working 80 hours a week, taking care of the dairy and working extra days on another farm nearby. I was going through chemo, radiation and surgeries and trying to assure three small children that it was going to be okay. We juggled bills, paying so much on this one and so much on that one.
The call that day felt like another wound, one the doctors couldn’t address.
As believers we might not talk about money or material things because it’s a tender topic, but money and material possessions can be a powerful gift.
One anonymous person slipped a hundred dollar bill in our mailbox right before Christmas that year. I can’t even tell you how excited we were to go to the TG&Y (old school version of the Dollar Store) and buy generic barbies for the girls and army men and a dump truck for Ryan. I wept as I wrapped those presents and put them under the tree.
I didn’t want a single thing for me, but the fact that there was something for them meant everything.
Money isn’t bad. Having things isn’t bad. Both are resources that can do powerful good, like infusing hope into the heart of a family in the midst of a battle.
Unfortunately, money can also divide. It can destroy relationships.
Money can create disappointment as we compare our bank account or material goods to another and feel that we somehow fall short, even though the poorest of us are richer than 98% of the rest of the world.
Money can cause family members not to talk to each other as they wrangle over an inheritance, while they have plenty.
Yet it’s not money that does those things, is it?
Then he said, “Beware! Guard against every kind of greed. Life is not measured by how much you own.” Luke 12:15 (NLT)
Greed is intense desire to have something no matter what. It’s what takes something that can do powerful good and twist it. The good news is that we can guard our hearts against this. It begins by asking this gut-honest question:
Do I see the things I own as His
or do things own me?
If everything we have is His, then it becomes a blessing rather than a never ending pursuit.
If everything we have is His, then life isn’t measured by what we own. It’s not our emphasis. We’ll refuse to elevate it above people, especially family. We will stop accumulating stuff when so many don’t even have the basics.
This returns money and material positions back into their rightful place — as a gift to be used for His purposes, rather than our purpose for being.
As I wrote this post, I reminded Richard of that old story. It seems a million years ago in some ways, and we both wish we knew who put that crisp $100 bill in our mailbox so many years ago.
I’d wrap my arms around their neck and tell them that their gift rescued a distraught, young mama who was battling cancer and discouragement. I’d show them a picture of three happy children unwrapping a few Christmas presents, and the bountiful dinner we had later that night.
Do we see the things we own as His, or do they own us?
It’s a question worth asking. Let’s pray this prayer today, okay?
Lord, is there anything that owns me? If it has the potential to own me, release that in Your name. Let money and material things take its rightful place in my heart, in my thoughts, in what I pursue. Let me take what I do have and gently press it into places where it will do good for Your name’s sake.
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Powerful post Suzie. I so appreciate your honesty. Sometimes when we see people where they are we can’t imagine where they’ve been. I know your early experiences have carved a depth of compassion and wisdom in your soul for such a time as this. It is always a pleasure to read one of your post. Love ya! – Kia
My goodness those were lean years. Not just one year, but several years of trust, hard work, juggling bills, and trying to listen to God to take steps out of that hard place.
Such important questions: Does God own these things or do I? Do they own me? This is an issue I continually face. It’s so easy for the desire for more to rob my contentment. So important to remember that our money and possessions are GIFTS of grace, not things we deserve. I want to be open handed in passing some of God’s material gifts to others, but sometimes that old worry creeps in: “Do I have enough?” Praying that the conversation today will encourage many.
I love this, Betsy. My prayer is, “Let it all be yours to do with what you desire.” I’m lucky to be able to watch women do that well. My friend, Lysa TerKeurst, lived with open hands when times were lean, and now lives with open hands when her books are doing well. All of the profits go right back into ministry, spreading the gospel, meeting tangible needs of women who have no voice in the world, and so much more. That’s a beautiful thing, to realize that we don’t need more things, bigger bank accounts, but to be able to use what God gives to partner with His heart in ministry.
Thank you so much for the reminder- what a great post. I have to remember that it’s God’s money, not mine, so I should do with it what He wants me to do. Thank you for spreading the word. Also thanks for the linkup party and giving us all a chance to share our work!
Whether little or large amounts, it’s where He begins to work inside of us. I realize — because I’ve been there — that when you have little, it’s hard to even think about the fact that it is all His, but that’s where He reveals Himself faithful. That was my prayer during that lean, lean time.
Resources certainly have the power to build up or to tear down. Perspective is everything really. I’m realizing I shared the wrong post this week. I wrote about money a few weeks back. That being said, I really appreciate you taking it on today. As women, we tend to avoid the topic like a plague! As with everything, our finances belong to God. Keep speaking Suzie!
Suzie, what a beautiful testimony. This has been such an area of growth for me over the past few years. More and more, I’m seeing that everything I have, material or not, is a gift from him. It’s so freeing to not be owned by “stuff” and blessing others. Thank you for this. Blessings and hugs.
Suzie, thanks for sharing this story with us. A good heart check as we check toward the holidays is in order. I don’t need to keep up with the Joneses, just follow after Jesus. It’s all His.
Thanks for sharing your words, Suzie, and for pointing us to our Lord. I needed this today. Strange as it may sound, I have set my computer above my Lord, and have let it own me. It came down with a virus yesterday, and now that it’s away (hopefully with files in tact), I’m seeing truth. I was unaware until this situation, and can thank God for allowing it to reveal much to me. Great post and prompt. I’m thankful for you and this #livefree community!
Julie, the same challenge has happened to me! My daughter’s computer crashed and for a week and a half, I’ve had to let her use mine during school. So I’ve had to relinquish writing time and social media time. (Different from you, I realize, since at least I know my files are intact!) May God give you grace, friend!
That’s when the trouble begins, when things start owning us. GREAT POST. First time linking up here and I’m glad I did. Usually I take Thursdays off but not today! Parked at number 30!
This is so similar to where He took me Suzie. I’m grateful for a Mom that genuinely believed we are stewards of what we’ve been given. My prayer is that my kids will see in me what I saw in her! I miss her! (Love the pic this week of that beautiful grandson. It must make your heart want to burst!) 🙂
Cindy, my sweet monkeys make me realize more and more what really matters. They are teachers in the best way.
You are such a blessing!!!…. Indeed admire you courage!Thanks for all that you write!!…
Oh wow…. Suzie, I can’t even imagine. A phone call while you were in the hospital?! Just wow…. My heart wanted to reach right out to you while reading this story. I’m thankful the person who slipped the $100 in your mailbox did just that. Praise God. Praying the prayer alongside you, lifting eyes to Jesus. I don’t want anything in there that will deter ~ for His name’s sake.