Listen, GOD! Please, pay attention! Can you make sense of these ramblings, my groans and cries? King-God, I need your help. Every morning you’ll hear me at it again. Every morning I lay out the pieces of my life on your altar and watch for fire to descend.
Psalm 5:1-3 MSG
Faith is a wing suit jump.
Or can be. Yes, some times life is not terrifying. Or anything like an adrenaline rush. Yes, those times can still be faith-filled.
But this kind of faith—this faith that we are living (namely eight people on a poverty-level-for-two-people income and no government support?)—I say is a wing suit jump. It’s downright emotional. By the way, I don’t mean some wing suit jump by a pro who designs his own suits and maybe teaches others. I mean like this is your very first jump or flight, and the only thing you can see is the next ridge or tree rushing at you, and the only sounds you can hear are the wind in your ears and your screaming. And (let’s say, just for kicks) it turns out no one has bothered to confirm whether or not your suit even came with a parachute for your final approach. I mean, it was supposed to, someone promised it would, but…did it, truly?
It really is too bad that I forgot what my own blog entry exactly previous to this one was about. I read it over just today and would have been well-served by going back to read it sometime earlier this week. For yesterday, especially, I was really emotional all day. [And all of this stuff is layered on top of the emotional exhaustion we live with all the time from grafting an advanced-age adoptee from trauma into our family.] This time around it was self-pity, some mild levels of desperation, and sadness. Most of all, I felt alone.
I was so hoping He would come through for us this month.
At night I learned that Tammy had been choking back hurt anger all day herself.
Rewind to two weeks ago…
We’d just been wrapping up the last home improvement project there was money for: painting the outside of our house. Originally we’d procured an estimate for work we knew we could pay for. But as the job progressed, problems popped up, much of the house needed re-pointing, and rotting porch boards/roofs couldn’t just be ignored.
So we knew the real final bill was probably going to be a shock, and I warned the painter ahead of time:
“Matt, we need to sit down and deal with that final negotiation carefully. These are the kinds of things where even friends can part enemies.”
Well, the final number shocked us more than we even feared. So I invited him over to come sit around the backyard fire and answer all my questions. We talked for a couple of hours about other stuff, and then began the money discussion after praying out loud for grace and help.
My number-crunching had left me with this: if we kept back enough money to pay our visa bill at the end of the month (a huge one with medical and dental bills, annual insurance premiums for home and auto, and paint and lumber for the house job), we had only one thousand dollars left. Oops, $700 had been mailed off that day for school taxes.
“So, basically, Matt,” I said as we sat there watching the fire die out, “for the $4300 I’m still going to owe you after today, I’ve got…$300!”
I couldn’t help but laugh hearing myself say it. How embarrassing. Could we have appeared to budget the final use of “the rest of our money” any more poorly? All I could say was, “God is going to have to provide for this one, Matt. I don’t know where it’s going to come from.”
Though I had shared with him my odd and spottily lucrative sideline of “checking the mailbox” (amazing him and rightly so), it hardly served as proof that God was going to foot this bill. But, to his credit, he said he wasn’t worried. We worked out dates for a couple of payments (I would go on to meet those, thereby transferring my unknowns to the visa bill) and set a deadline for final payment before Christmas.
But where was $4000—from our current vantage point a pretty big number—going to come from? In terms of our forecasted income, it was an unimaginable number, one at which a whole pile of generous people could throw $100’s (and be loved and appreciated for) and hardly make a dent.
But we were going to trust anyway. Wheeee! right?
And we did.
Until we weren’t. Feelings, the Enemy, whatever it all was, struck us down, and hope flickered out.
The final straw for me, I think, was, oddly enough, a blank check my parents had just left with us when they drove off home this week. (They were aware that we’d reached the end of our resources; they’d offered to make a loan, and they were simply leaving the final amount up to me.)
“And how might that be a burden?” you ask.
Believe me, I see it for the blessing it is. But we’d been hoping for God to pull through. We needed to feel (once again) not forgotten and not alone on this difficult path he’s set us on.
“But maybe this check IS how he is going to pull through, silly!”
I suppose, maybe. But it didn’t feel miraculous; it felt “nice.” Nice of them, not of him. But with the visa due date a week off, there was no choice but (short of dipping into retirement investments) to take the loan.
I had hoped so hard for something better.
I guess I just couldn’t help getting discouraged.
I guess $4000 was just kind of too big to expect anything.
But oh…I was so hoping…
And then this:
I opened an email from our CPA. He’d finished preparing our taxes. I was half-expecting a penalty because I’d procrastinated and wasn’t even sure our extension lasted until October like it had when we were living overseas. As our paychecks never even had taxes withheld, I had no thoughts of a refund. [And I can see why, as after looking up the eight other years this CPA has done our taxes, I saw we had to pay once, got a refund twice (including last year at $549), and all five other years leveled out at a $0 liability.]
But this year, he said, there was a refund:
Four thousand dollars.
If we are faithless, he remains faithful, for he cannot disown himself.
II Timothy 2:13 NIV
And now, God, do it again—bring rain to our drought-stricken lives. So those who planted their crops in despair will shout hurrahs at the harvest. So those who went off with heavy hearts will come home laughing, with armloads of blessing.
Psalm 126: 4-6 MSG