“$0.06,” my bank account read. Six cents. I had no idea how I would pay for my groceries the next week or my rent for the next month and, as an international student studying in the U.S., getting a job wasn’t allowed. Six-freaking-cents.
How did I get to this point? And, more importantly, what do I do from here? This was not what I had envisioned for my life, but I felt the Lord call me, so I obeyed.
Let’s quickly jump back to two and half years before this moment.
I was living and working in Adelaide, Australia, diligently budgeting my income to the cent and had a decent safety net of savings behind me. In fact, I was well on my way to buying an investment property and tracking to build a solid financial future.
Saving and spending diligently was something that my parents taught my sister and me from a young age, so when we received our weekly $5 allowance, we automatically gave a portion to our local church, saved a portion and then were able to spend the remainder on whatever we pleased.
As we grew up, got jobs and starting earning more, what started as a simple principle grew into an extensive budget spreadsheet, which helped me save for multiple overseas mission trips, interstate holidays, budget for more responsibility and large bills and still have spending money for a social life.
A Life-Changing Event
Everything changed in March of 2015 when I felt God speak to me about studying at Bethel’s Supernatural School of Ministry (BSSM). He spoke to me out of the scripture in 1 Kings 19:19-21 where Elisha heard the call of God, left his family inheritance, safety, security and means of income to set out to obey God.
Between then and this moment, I sold my car to be free of my loan, went through a whirlwind of personal and emotional upheaval (a story for another time), started taking deliberate steps towards healing in my life, which came at a financial cost, and finally made it to Redding, California in August 2017 to start studying at BSSM. I went into the year knowing I wouldn’t have enough money to last for nine months but felt to trust the Lord for financial provision.
And now we’re back to me standing in my kitchen in Redding in my shoe-box apartment reading my bank account that states “six cents.”
Living without financial security has been a whole new world and learning to trust God in this way has been, at times, overwhelmingly challenging, but also incredibly rewarding. I also want to say this: I have always seen God come through, even if it’s not the way I expected.
So here’s ‘six cents’ of wisdom on what I’ve learnt when trusting God with your finances.
#1. Foster a heart of gratitude and thankfulness.
Thankfulness is like putting on a pair of glasses – it can help re-fix your heart and mind to remember the goodness of God, even amidst the direst of circumstances. We all know that moment when things aren’t going as we planned and we’re struggling to trust God, so we start focusing on our lack and what ‘isn’t,’ instead of focusing on Him and what ‘is.’
We question His goodness, play the blame-game and end up spiraling into hopelessness. BUT! The Bible reminds us time and time again to remain thankful because thankfulness is a fundamental part of the Christian faith – it changes everything!
Some of the ways you can choose to be deliberately thankful is by stopping whatever you’re doing and taking at least one minute to verbally thank God for the things you have – material or otherwise; or pulling out a journal to write things down; or typing out a list and placing it on your wall, mirror or somewhere that you are frequently reminded to stop and give thanks. Let’s let thankfulness be our first response and the basis from which we live our lives.
#2. Know your season, learn the promises of God and rest in who He is.
Knowing your season is vital, finances aside. Just like when you put a destination in a GPS, you can only know how to get where you’re going when you establish where you currently are. If I entered my time at BSSM expecting to live as I did back in Australia, I would be in for a rude awakening – I went from working full-time to not being able to work at all; from having a solid safety net of savings to basically spending my last cent.
But here’s the secret to what has been giving me grace while I’m here: knowing that this is only a season – a designated time that will shift eventually. And there are stories upon stories of the kindness of God speaking to me about His nature before I moved to America;
like when a few friends gave me a pair of white sneakers for Christmas that I had wanted for a while and God speaking through that moment saying that He not only wants to provide for my needs but my wants as well; and when I was in a prayer meeting and a lady behind me tapped me on the shoulder and said that God is Jehovah Jireh, my provider, and that she wanted to bless me with money.
Who is God to you? And how do you see Him? Because how you see Him affects how you ask and receive from Him. Look to the Scriptures and immerse yourself in learning the true character of God – not through the lens of your circumstance – and trust that He won’t lead you somewhere that He won’t go.
[bctt tweet=”How you see God affects how you ask and receive from Him. ” username=”heyhanha”]
#3. Write the blessings down and shift your perspective.
In my personal journey of heavily relying on the Lord for finances over the past year, I have taken note of every time I have received a financial blessing, whether it’s $4 to buy a coffee or hundreds of dollars towards my rent, missions trip or tuition. Doing this has allowed me to remember the faithfulness of the Lord in good and bad moments and to remain thankful.
Late last year, I gave a $5 birthday gift towards a ministry trip my friend was going on and in my note, I said, “I know the donation amount isn’t much, but I truly want to invest in all that God’s going to do in and through you!” And his response hit me in the best kind of way, changing my perspective entirely, “Thank you so much and it doesn’t matter how much it is! Everything is an abundant blessing!”
I realised that when you live with an open hand, responsive to God’s call, and receive without entitlement, whether you receive $5 or $5,000, you are abundantly blessed. So write those moments down, remind yourself of the Lord’s provision and people’s generosity. It’ll help you maintain a thankful heart, as I mentioned in my first ‘cent’ of wisdom.
#4. Steward your finances well and stay in your lane.
Stewardship is the job of supervising or taking care of something, and it applies to many areas of our life – our time, our resources and our gifts that God has given us. When it comes to finances, stewardship – how we save and spend – can be a sensitive topic, because everyone does it differently. So I’ll start with this: stay in your lane.
It’s very easy to flip into judgment and comparison on how people use their money, but I have learnt that God has made everyone different – shock horror! – which means that everyone has their own passions, desires and convictions on what is appropriate when it comes to money. Your own resources are your own responsibility and it’s a Biblical principle that if you are faithful with the small things, God will honour you with the big things. So start with what’s in your hand and steward your finances well – honouring God, companies that bill you and people who help you.
#5. Remember that YOU are the gift and find other ways to be generous.
Late last year, I had a conversation with my mentor about how I hated not having a car or money, because it disabled me from doing the things that I love doing for others – like picking someone up, taking them out for coffee and paying for it all without any expectation of reciprocation.
And she just looked at me intently and said, “Do you think that you being you is enough? And that people spending time with you is a gift in and of itself?” I paused, thought about it, and answered, “Nope,” but walked away challenged to shift my understanding of generosity.
In the following moments, I was brought to the realisation that who I am is enough and I can actually bless someone more by being wholly myself than a gift or a coffee date could. I also learnt to be generous in other ways, such as taking extra time and effort to beautifully write a card with heartfelt words or making a watercolour painting with personalised calligraphy. You can also be generous with your time, making space to hear how people truly are and being present in a conversation.
#6. Remember that God is not limited by your finances and wants to bless His children.
God is a God of abundance! He’s not limited by our earthly circumstances and His plans will always exceed our own. When praying about doing a second year of BSSM, God asked me if I believed if I was an ambassador for the Kingdom – someone sent out specifically to make His name known.
Then He said, “If you’re an ambassador and I’m the King, why would I send you out to not back you up?” My bank account gave me every reason to not do another year, but I’ve learnt that God is a good Dad and so worth trusting!
What would you dream if you had unlimited resources? And when was the last time you asked God what His dreams for your life were? This whole idea could be completely new to some, but I truly believe that God wants every one of His children to flourish in life and is not only willing to provide your needs, but your wants as well!
It’s the ‘six cents’ moments that have taught me principles that I want to implement for the rest of my life – not letting my financial status have the last say, or trusting my savings more than my Saviour. I hope my testimony and these little nuggets of wisdom have encouraged you to let God into this area of your life and to see finances from His perspective.