In Phillipians 4:12 Paul says “I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty.”
After 43 years of living on this earth—23 of them with a household of my own—I can identify with this statement. Days of scraping together pennies to split an ice cream as a treat when my husband was in law school. Years of scrimping to pay off student loans. Breathing easier, only to have him put aside a regular salary to form a small firm. Months of zero income with three small children. Suddenly enough to take a modest vacation on occasion, to visit our out-of-state family. Overflow for other things—including 4 trips to Africa for our daughter. And now squeezed in again, letting go of little luxuries we’d come to enjoy.
We’ve always been frugal, even in the good times. We’ve been savers, knowing life can turn on a dime. And yet as I consider the journey of these last two decades I begin to see a pattern. We have little, so we trust God to provide for needs that arise. God grows our faith. He also blesses in ways that allow us to get ahead a little, grow our “emergency” fund. But funny thing about those funds—when they are there, so are the needs that require them!
Why has all this been on my mind lately? Because I’ve been selfish. You see, when I got my book contract, it came with a bit of money. Not a ton, but enough that I breathed a sigh of relief, of space between my husband’s new salary and our expenses. But I didn’t count on the fact that Lord continues to prod me to rely on Him instead of money, to not hold those dollars so tightly in my fist. So, reluctantly, my money went toward a new furnace that we weren’t expecting to have to purchase. It wasn’t the way I wanted to spend “my” money. But I’m reminded again of the rest of the verse in Phillipians.
“I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through Christ who gives me strength.” Phil. 4:12-13
I certainly haven’t attained to the level of Paul, but I’m learning. I’m learning not to rely on the size of my bank account, big or small. I’m learning that in want and in plenty He gives me His strength to live on. He provides what I need. Always. I just don’t always need what I think I do!
As I type this, the cool air blows on my feet. And I am grateful. As I will be in the winter when warm air cuts through the chill. I have plenty. I always will. For I have Jesus.