It hurt to write the tithe check.
All I could think about was what else the $150 could be used for. Chris’ vacation days were gone. He was still weeks, maybe months, away from another job, another income. In a matter of days, our income was cut in half.
My chest felt tight as I filled out the check; looking ahead filled me with fear, with anxiety, with despair.
Trusting God to provide all our needs is easy when things aren’t hard. When we have jobs, savings accounts, health, people to rely on. Trust is scarier, harder, more painful when you don’t, in your back pocket, have more ideas.
This is all I have, Lord.
Money is security. I have always had security in budgets, bank accounts, emergency cash reserves.
Addiction took those away.
Battling addiction, even with health insurance, can devastate a family. The fun thing about being a public school teacher is no one believes you should have good health insurance. Not the school board. Not the public. Not the government who pays your salary. And God forbid a group try to fight for you to have adequate health insurance. Now it’s a political issue.
Addiction wiped out our HSA account.
Addiction took the majority of our savings account.
Addiction meant my birthday money bought groceries last week.
Addiction dropped our insurance coverage level and upped our payment plan to a treatment center.
Writing a check for $150 to God felt like almost too much to handle.
This is all I have, Lord. I trust you even though it hurts.
I put the check in my purse and headed to visitation at the treatment center. An hour of family addiction education and an hour of visiting my husband every Saturday before heading to evening services at our church.
That Saturday some guys who have shown up again and again while Chris has stumbled the last few months were joining us for visitation. Guys who Chris has lied to and hurt. Guys who have been deceived and manipulated. Showing up to visit a guy who did those things to you feels like too much grace and mercy.
I am learning there is no such thing as too much grace and mercy.
As we visit, my tithe check is burning a hole in the lining of my bag. I don’t doubt I’ll drop it in the offering box when I arrive at church. I don’t wonder if I’ll go through with it. It’s done. The money is no longer mine.
It feels freeing and terrifying.
Sitting across from the offering box, Jesus was observing how the crowd tossed in for the collection. Many of the rich were making large contributions.
When our hour is up, the girls and I walk through the parking lot to our car. One of the guys pulls up next to me, sticking his hand out his window. I say no and hesitate. He says my name, Mary, and I take his hand. He hands me cash, folded and crisp.
I whisper thank you and he drives on.
Once in the car, I sit in my seat afraid to open my hand. I don’t know why I’m afraid, but I am.
One poor widow came up and put in two small coins—a measly two cents. Jesus called his disciples over…
As I unfold the money, three one-hundred dollar bills greet me.
I drop the money like it’s on fire. The sobs come fast and uncontrolled. It takes my brain no time to understand the relationship between the $150 I was offering to God and the doubling he was doing within hours.
…and said, “The truth is that this poor widow gave more to the collection than all the others put together.
If I could tell you a more eloquent story of God’s grace and provision, I would. I wish I had better words and more powerful sentences to construct so you could feel the electric power of that moment.
But all I have is three one-hundred dollar bills and a shakily written tithe check to show you God’s faithfulness.
I cry again as I write this. Not because I am hopeless or broken, but because I am speechless with awe and admiration for God’s hand in my life. He took my teeny-tiny, very weary faith, and met me with generosity. He saw the sacrifice I was making even though it felt so dangerous and said, I am here, trust me with everything.
Trust me with your mounting bills.
Trust me with the fear of the future.
Trust me with your bank account.
Trust me with your marriage.
Trust me with Chris’ addiction and past.
Trust me with your daughters’ hearts.
Trust me with all of it.
All the others gave what they’ll never miss; she gave extravagantly what she couldn’t afford—she gave her all.”
I share this story not to show my piety, because if you know me in real life or even just stick around the internet long enough, you’ll quickly lose that idea. I’m fighting everything in me to not throw in a curse word right now just to balance this out a little bit. I share this story because I serve an extravagant God. A God who wants to surprise us, love us, and render us speechless with His power. I share this story because I follow a God who says, trust me with your little and I will give you everything.
I would like to tell you the more you lose, the easier it is to trust what you have left to God. But because I’m the exact opposite of what I should be, I’m just holding tighter to the few things I have left.
But God is prying my fingers off them one-by-one and meeting me with love even when I want to fight.
What an amazing Father.