“Now, our God, we give you thanks, and praise your glorious name.” I Chronicles 29:13 (NIV)
In the summer of 2013, God wanted to teach our family a lesson on where our money truly came from. It started with my income being reduced and a recommendation to read the book The Blessed Life. God used that book to speak to my husband and me about how He wanted us to tithe…which was different than what we had been doing. That was a faith test as my newly reduced income created more bills than present income and God was asking us to tithe more. He didn’t stop there. He challenged us in the area of our propane bill as well. Every year they examine how much we used previously and then adjust our budget accordingly. Our bill came back for the year of 2014 less than what we had paid in previous years. God whispered in my heart that He wanted us to take that extra money and instead of paying ahead to cover unexpected fuel charges, to use it to bless others.
I have to admit – I was nervous approaching my husband. I was already feeling like a failure for my income being reduced and not being able to replace it, and now God wanted me to ask my husband to use more of our money to bless others. I had that conversation with Bill and as I should have expected, his response was, “If that is what God is telling you, then that is what we’ll do.” End of discussion.
Each month the propane bill came, we used the extra money as a blessing offering. And that year was the first of a two-year (so far) cold snap where our temperatures got colder than normal. We were doing okay with our budget until the middle of May. One week I remember thinking, “Good, I think we made it. The propane won’t be filled again until fall and we can pay off our balance before they estimate our new budget.” No sooner had I gotten home from grocery shopping when I found…the propane truck had filled our tank and we had a new bill. It took a lot of scrimping that summer but we were able to pay the extra amount and get our balance to zero before the new budget was calculated.
God began to bless us. First, He allowed us to get into the co-op, something we had attempted in the fall of 2013 when we were doing whatever we could to reduce our monthly expenses to match our new income. We were denied in 2013, but accepted in 2014. Then, because of the colder than usual winter, our budgeted monthly bill went back up to its original monthly price and because we had consistently given that money away all year, it was still in the budget for 2014 and we didn’t notice the increase.
Something else exciting happened though, too. We had started to enjoy giving God a blessing check every month and so we adjusted our budget in another area and continued the blessing for another year. When God says it’s more blessed to give than receive, I believe that truth (Acts 20:35). Our entire family enjoyed blessing others and so we continued, knowing that it pleased God and reminded us of the big picture.
This year, despite another colder than usual winter, our propane bill will be paid off by next month and we will begin to bank money toward our 2015 year. I don’t know if our budgeted amount will increase, decrease, or stay the same…but I do know God used our propane bill to get our family thinking about others, reminded us where our money truly comes from, and who it ultimately belongs to.
© Cheri Swalwell 2015