Would God ever want someone to overextend himself financially for something that might not pay back for a long time, if ever? I’m pretty sure I know what Dave Ramsey would say. Most people don’t agree it’s a good idea to buy a house too expensive for your monthly salary. In general, I would agree. But what if you can afford the house you want based on your figures, but then it turns out your figures are wrong? What if only God could have foreseen those figures? In most cases, I doubt God would want us to knowingly overextend ourselves for a house. However, I feel God blindfolded us into exactly this, asking us to be financially responsible on our parts but then taking us beyond ourselves financially.
When Greg and I were looking at houses, we prayed a lot about which house to choose (read the more detailed story here). We took the time to do the math and make sure we weren’t buying something we couldn’t afford. It looked like it was going to be tight for a while, but doable. We thought we had looked at it from every angle. We signed the contract and bought the house. A day or two later we found out Greg’s take-home pay was less than expected. After our move-in date, we found out groceries in our new city were unexpectedly a little higher than those in the city where we had been living with Greg’s parents, and definitely higher than in Knoxville. Other unexpected expenses came into view.
In addition, Greg and I had always depended on his summer work to bolster us financially. He thought he could find online work without problem like he did every year. Then this class was cancelled for the first time because of low enrollment, another class was given to a lower-salaried graduate student, another possibility was given to another candidate, and so on and so on. This had never happened before.
We knew I had to go back to work. Let me say right now that I would never have gone back to work unless I knew I absolutely had to do it. And I knew I had to do it. As soon as I went looking for a job, I found two very quickly. I knew it wasn’t about me–it was my masters in TESOL and God using it.
Greg, an extremely qualified, smart, and hard-working man who always easily finds jobs, couldn’t find extra work no matter what he did. I, a rusty English teacher, had extra work heaped on me.
When something so out of the ordinary happens, I never just shrug my shoulders and say, Oh, wow–that was strange! I believe in a personal God, who loves, directs, and uses us. I don’t know exactly what God was doing when He sent me back to work part-time while I’m still homeschooling my children. I don’t know why He keeps encouraging me to work hard at starting up my writing career. But He did, and He does, and I glory in the fact that He’s using me in different ways right now. One of my most regular prayers is to be used by God.
When I am driving home at night from teaching English to a hardworking house-cleaner who will now be able to communicate with her son just a little better, or to a roofer who might get a promotion because he can speak with fluency to his superior, or to a bilingual teacher who can now have the confidence to craft a professional email to her principal, I am exhausted. But I feel satisfied, poured out for God, all my energy used for Him (see my post about feeling beyond me).
Don’t get me wrong, moms at home with your children. What you are doing, and what I was doing before God had me go back to work, is of immense value. You are also spending your energy for God and for His purposes. I had eight years of that, when I know God didn’t want me anywhere else. I used to think what I was doing wasn’t good enough, but God taught me otherwise. It’s just that sometimes God will make it clear to you that He does want you somewhere else, too.
I feel God led me and my husband to do something that ended up looking a bit foolish at least in part to use me in a new way. Has God ever surprised you this way? Has He ever clearly led you to do something that would seem foolish if it came from anyone but Him?