For years, the grocery budget has been a source of contention in our home. Each time my husband would get paid, I would pay careful attention to the money we had for groceries and plan my menu accordingly. I spent a great amount of time on that menu, especially when there wasn’t much money left over after our bills were paid. I would make out my grocery list, ensuring that only those ingredients that were absolutely necessary were on the list. And every time my husband went to the grocery, he would come home with stuff that was not on that list. Absolutely unnecessary (to my mind), frivolous expenditures that resulted in an argument the night he came home and a miserable amount of tension between us. Now, I’m sure that some of you are thinking “why didn’t she just go to the grocery herself?” And my answer is two-fold. First, my husband usually goes to the grocery because it’s simply easier that way. Our store is about 30 minutes from our house and he stops by while he’s in town, after work. But secondly, the “problem” wasn’t really about the groceries. It was, for me, about respect. In my eyes, my husband wasn’t considering my feelings when he bought more than what was on the list. He wasn’t considering the time and energy I spent preparing my menu, and the care I put into my list. In reality it was about control. I wanted to control our finances and I wanted my husband to submit to my plan. I had all sorts of plans for our extra money (look through my archives and you’ll see some of the wonderful planning I was doing!) I hated “wasting” money on food – especially unnecessary food (and by unnecessary I, of course, mean anything that wasn’t on my list!) So every week when my husband came home from the grocery, it was a problem. Even when I was able to hold my tongue, I would stew inside and spend a miserable few hours complaining about my husband in my heart.
But a few weeks ago, the proverbial light bulb went off in my head when I realized something. Never, NOT ONE TIME, during our life together have we ever been without food. That may not seem like an amazing thing in this world of loans and credit cards, but it really is amazing when you consider the fact that, until recently, my husband and I have never owned a credit card, we do not keep a savings account and we made up our minds long ago never to ask others for money*. We live paycheck to paycheck (personally, I like it that way) and what we get paid on Friday is what we have to live on until next payday. There have been times when we have had the barest amount of money to scrape by on and yet God has ALWAYS provided for all of our needs. There have even been times when, in a George Muller kind of experience, a friend has sent us home from her house with sacks full of canned goods – even though she had no idea we were in need.
Yesterday, as I was pondering some things I’m in need of right now, a verse of scripture came to my mind. “God will supply all of your needs according to His riches” (Phil 4:19). I’ve heard that verse a hundred times but it came alive to me in that moment. He will supply all of my needs according to HIS riches! Not according to my bank account, not according to my budget, not according to my grocery list… according to HIS riches. According to HIS bank account. According to HIS financial standing. It makes absolutely no difference what my budget says I can afford, I have an unlimited spending account with the Bank of God.
My husband is my authority. If he chooses to spend money in a way I (in all of my human wisdom) think is unwise, it honors God for me to honor my husband. It is far more effective for me to ask God to provide for us than it is for me to spend my time and energy in an attempt to control my bank account – and my husband. I have a promise from God that He will meet all of my needs… regardless of the amount in my checkbook.
“I have been young and now I am old, Yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken Or his descendants begging bread” (Psalm 37:25).
*I should clarify that there have been times in our recent lives when we have asked to borrow money or have used credit cards. During the ice storm, we asked my Mother in Law to let us borrow money until we could pay her back with our tax return and recently when we had a situation with our car, we used a credit card to cover that. These types of things have happened during the last few months and I consider them a tremendous lack of faith on our parts. Not long ago, we cut up all our credit cards and have vowed to live the way we were living until recently, relying on God alone to supply all of our needs.
“I purposed to move men, by God, through prayer alone.” – Hudson Taylor.