Failure is an event, never a person.
– William D. Brown
One of the things I struggled with a bit when I was just starting the process of paying off my debt was asking God for help. (Or trusting that he actually would.) You see accepting grace doesn’t always come naturally to me.
I’d look at our situation. Knowing that we were now trying with God’s help to make wiser choices and handle things in a way that was pleasing to him. And I’d pray Lord I’m sorry that we haven’t always done this the right way, but we’re trying to change that now. Please help us get out from under the debt we have and get to a place where we are financially healthy and able to give and serve the way you want us to.
But at that same time this little voice in the back my head (You know the ugly little legalistic Pharisee-type voice) would whisper to me. “You don’t really expect God’s going to help you do you? I mean you got yourself into this mess by not really paying attention to what God says about money. Why would he help you get out of it. Yep. You’re going to be pretty much on your own, until you work your way out of this. Maybe then He’ll be pleased and bless you. ”
Maybe no one else ever hears that voice. Perhaps I’m the only one. But I rather suspect that probably isn’t the case.
Does God give us what we deserve in our finances?
A lesson in grace
One of our pastor’s was telling an amusing story a few months ago. It was time for his young son to clean up his room and he wasn’t very happy about it. His son was sitting in his room kind of pouting so he thought “Aha, here’s a chance for a Godly teachable moment.”
He asked his son “Did you make this mess?” His son said “Yes.” So then he asked, “Son, do you deserve to have to clean up your mess by yourself?” and his son again responded “Yes.” So then he told his son “You made the mess and you deserve to clean it up, but Daddy is going to help you clean it up. That’s called grace.”
Well he thought he’d done pretty well with that one until that evening it was bed time and he told his son it was time to clean up his room and get ready for bed. A few minutes later he heard his son call down from his room, “Dad, I need a little more grace.”
Allowing room for grace
Truth is we all need a little more grace. But the beauty of the message of the Bible is that grace is one thing God has an unlimited supply of.
I think God is delighted when he looks down and sees His children start to make wise choices. God is always far more interested in what we are becoming than in what we have been.
I’ve led several Financial Peace University classes. I’ve seen God do some remarkable things. Things that can only be explained as God blessing those who are trying to do His will. Honestly, seeing those stories is one of the coolest parts of leading FPU.
We all make mistakes
The bottom line is we all mess up from time to time in our financial decisions. No matter how wise and well-informed we may be, sometimes things don’t turn out as planned. Sometimes in the excitement of the moment we make decisions that in retrospect were not very smart. Sometimes we make a string of bad decisions simply because we have never been taught how to handle our money. And truthfully, sometimes we just do things that are selfish and unwise and later pay the price for it.
But the mistakes we have made don’t have to define us. We can decide to make better choices. Those failures may make our lives more difficult for a time. God doesn’t promise to remove all of the pain from our mistakes we make here on earth. However, that does not mean he leaves us to face those consequences on our own. It doesn’t mean that we have to clean up our own messes before he will be pleased with us. And it certainly does not mean that He cannot take our mistakes and use them in a way that brings glory to Him.
Several years ago they were building the Iranian Parliament House in Tehran. Plans were for there to be a grand hall of mirrors. Only one problem. When the shipment of mirrors arrived the mirrors had all shattered during the shipment. They were preparing to send them back when one of the architects had the idea that maybe they could make a glass mosaic by putting the broken pieces together. The result was spectacular. The room almost appears to be covered in diamonds.
God can take our broken pieces and make diamonds out of them as well. He’ll do it in our relationships. He’ll do it with our behaviors. He can do it with our choices. And yes he’ll do it with our finances.