Have you ever had a moment when a good friend leaves you speechless and teary eyed? Maybe they’ve surprised you with the perfect gift. Maybe they said all the words you needed to hear, even if you didn’t know you needed to hear them. Or maybe, like my friend, God used them in a way you didn’t see coming, even though you’ve been praying for a breakthrough.
2022 has been a pretty rough year, financially, for many. My family has not been excluded. Earlier this year we had to replace the engine in my husband’s truck wiping out our entire savings. There are four drivers in my family, so we own four cars. Four used cars. Used cars that need repairs. A lot of repairs, and a lot of gas. One of those drivers is a Senior in high school. Forget college tuition. No one warns you about Senior pictures, and fees, and homecoming dresses, and more fees. The list goes on.
And, I don’t know about you, but a single trip to the grocery store these days is enough to make me consider going back to my college-days diet and live on nothing but ramen and hamburger helper.
If I’m being transparent, I was at the point of frustration and a little desperate. My husband and I have always been tithers, but last year, quite frankly, I got a little lax. Tithing is just hard for me. Especially when life is coming at me with giant dollar signs.
My church has a great option to set up automatic payments for our tithe, so I decided in 2022 to take advantage of that. No questions asked, our tithe would just come off the top of each pay-day. That way, I would never miss the opportunity to tithe. I just knew God was going to bless this new method of our giving.
But, he didn’t seem to be. Each month brought with it one more unexpected expense. One more overdrawn account notice. And more and more frustration. I just didn’t understand. In the book of Malachi is says that when we tithe, God will return it to us ten-fold. He also says that this is the only thing on which we are permitted to test Him. So, why weren’t we financially stable? Why, when we were more faithful than ever in our tithing, were we struggling so much?
In order to make ends meet, I started asking around for babysitting jobs. I’d snag one or two from my daughter when she wasn’t available, or just put it out on the interwebs to see which of my friends would let me come play with their kids and pay me for it!
The very first family gave me $50. It was very generous and I was very thankful. And then God whispered. Oh…yeah…I need to tithe on this too. To be honest, it seemed really trivial. Five dollars? Really, God? What are you going to do with five dollars when it seems as if you haven’t done anything with nearly a year’s worth of a two-income household?
“Fine. I’ll give you this five bucks. But, I am testing You on this! I NEED this returned to me ten-fold!”
I deposited the check and tithed the five immediately.
A few days later a good friend of mine came by to visit me. It was an ordinary Tuesday. Except that God had something pretty fantastic planned.
We settled in to our chairs and my friend started telling me a story, as she often does, of how God was speaking to her and asking her to do something specific with her time, talent or treasure. I always admire her in that way. She seems very intune with His voice. This particular time she was a little confused on exactly what He was asking of her. She knew He was asking her to give some of her treasure away, but she didn’t know what that looked like, tangibly. She continued to pray about it.
My friend didn’t know it, but during the same time God was stirring up something in her heart, my college daughter’s alternator went out. In my frustation that day and just needing a little encouragement, I texted my friend to tell her the news. What I didn’t know was that God had already prepared her heart to fill that financial need before it even happened.
While we were visiting that Tuesday morning, she told me that God had asked her to give me a check for $500 to help cover the cost of fixing the alternator.
For those of you just joining us, let me remind you of my challenge to God with my $5 tithe. A ten-fold tithe on fifty babysitting dollars is $500!!
My mouth dropped open and tears filled my eyes. I could not believe the miracle! I was speechless knowing my end of the story of how I had challenged God to honor my tithe ten-fold. All the while He was working in my friend to be the answer to that challenge.
It’s certainly not every day that God answers our prayers in ways we can sense, or in ways that are obvious. But when I started sharing my side of the story with my friend, we both were in awe of how God had used us both as a lesson to each other. If we are obedient in what God asks us to do, both in giving and receiving, He is faithful to bless you more than you can imagine. That day He tied the blessings all up perfectly in a friendship I treasure, bound by Christ.
And as I move forward, I hope I never forget the lesson God taught me through this: Give, but also recieve. Both are needed in the transaction of grace. And both bring Him glory.