Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Budgets and Trusting God

About once a year, I get it in my head that we need a budget.  I painstakingly figure everything out on paper.  I get excited about how nicely it all works out there on the paper.  I listen to the budgeting gurus and am inspired to make ends meet this year, to live within my means.

After a few months, things break down. Car repairs cost $500 and I have only $200 saved in that category.  The septic needs pumping and the boiler needs cleaning. $400 when only $200 have been saved in the home maintenance category.  We need to put more in that category.....from where?  Every penny is budgeted. 

Every year, I become more and more anxious about our finances and try to make it work, robbing from Peter’s category to pay Paul’s.  In my flesh, I struggle and strive to make it work, but it never does.  I just become more and more worried and anxious. 

My conclusion, is this:  we cannot trust in a budget, or even our own ability to provide. We need to trust God, regardless of our current income.  Whether it exceeds our needs or falls short.  When I struggle over a budget, am I showing lack of faith in God to provide for all my needs?

Now, I am not opposed to budgets per se.  I think they are a tool of good stewardship.  We have made a lot of changes in life because we have examined our spending in the course of making a budget.  Switching to pay-as-you-go cell phones has probably saved us about $600 a year.  Dropping cable: $900 a year.  I am thankful that we discovered that, because now we can make one payment on our daughter’s college tuition (what we have pledged to contribute.)  Perhaps there are more areas where we can cut.....certainly, cellphones aren’t a need at all, but an expectation in this day and age.  Internet? Insurance?  One must evaluate whether it is more or less cost effective to NOT have these things.

I think many Americans are profligate in their spending and what they decide is a necessity, really isn’t.  Many people are foolish with their $ out of ignorance and end up in debt.   People need some instruction in wise spending practices and priorities; needs vs. wants. 

As for me, I have finally learned that God doesn’t want me to trust a budget, or become anxious over finances that are insufficient. He wants me to trust Him.  I should be a good steward, but know that He always provides, even when the budget doesn’t.

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