Saturday, February 27, 2010

Giving up Money for Lent

"During Lent, we fast from things sinful things that control us, freeing us from that sin so we can honor God. But we also fast from things that aren't sinful, things that may even be inherently good, but can in their own way also control us. We fast from these good things to reveal what controls our lives and turn the control back over to God."

I'm paraphrasing, but those words were the general idea of what Pastor Rick Edwards of Christ Community Church of the Nazarene in Olathe (TFC's Sponsoring Church) shared during last week's Ash Wednesday service. I hadn't given any thought to fasting something during Lent but Rick's words hadn't even fully traveled from my ears to my conscious mind before I knew what I needed to give up during Lent - money.

Well, not money entirely but the act of counting money. And not counting money the way Ebenezer Scrooge was counting money while dumping his childhood sweetheart, Alice but counting the money the way my financial planner and I do during our annual meeting. A meeting that incidentally, had just happened the day before.

Whenever Brian and I meet, he shows me a chart letting me know how I'm progressing in saving for retirement. If I put X amount of money away each month, I'll have X amount of annual income come retirement. I LOVE those types of graphs. While I'm not as fancy as Brian, I'm always thinking "how much do I need to put away each month to be able to accomplish this goal?"

I've been spending a lot of time thinking and planning lately because I've been thinking and praying about some big plans. I've figured out how much money I need to put away each month to be able to fund about 1/3 of a state university education for my son. I'm currently working toward a French degree. I'm just taking basic level classes this year at JUCO but I think I'll eventually transfer to KU. After looking through all kinds of programs at lots of different schools and running all the financial numbers - I'm pretty sure KU's program will be the route to go.
And the casual car shopping Erin and I have been doing caused me to stumble upon the perfect deal for a Honda CRV. We have the exact amount for that car in savings right now, so I've been running numbers to see how long it would take to build our savings account back up to a safe margin.

I've stopped all of that for Lent.

Yes, I still enter receipts into our monthly spending plan and Erin and I will sit down soon to go over March's plan. But I've stopped thinking, planning and just plain obsessing over our long term financial plans. And I have to say, it's been quite the relief. Let me say, it's hard to have peace when your brain enters the OCD mode brought on by long-term planning. Whenever my mind flitters over to some long term goal, I tell it I'm fasting money for Lent. It's really, really nice. And I'm learning some truth from scripture in a new way.

25 “That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn’t life more than food, and your body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are? 27 Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?

28 “And why worry about your clothing? Look at the lilies of the field and how they grow. They don’t work or make their clothing, 29 yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are. 30 And if God cares so wonderfully for wildflowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith?

31 “So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’ 32 These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. 33 Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need. - Matthew 6:25-33

6 Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. 7 Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. - Philippians 4:6-7

Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you. - 1 Peter 5:7

5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart;
do not depend on your own understanding.
6 Seek his will in all you do,
and he will show you which path to take.
- Proverbs 3:5-6

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