Spout ‘N’ Pout

Image by Francine Sreca from Pixabay

            The fruit of the Spirit is … self-control. – Galatians 5:22–23 (NIV)

At the beginning of every year, I write out my goals for the coming year. In January, I noticed that “lose weight,” “manage time better” and “get out of debt” were three recurring ones, going back years and years and years—and ones on which I’d made little, if any progress.

“Hmmm,” I thought in a moment of brilliant self-revelation. “Looks like I have a little problem with self-control.”

I’ve lost and gained the same 15 pounds several times now.

Time management is almost as difficult. One of my recent weekly goals was “be more realistic in setting goals.”

As far as the finances, well, we all know how impossible it seems to get out of the hole once you’re in.

But I’d been making progress—slow, but inching ahead—until I overdrew the checking account. I’d scheduled a credit card payment to be made on the due date, figuring one of my writing checks would cover it. Normally it would have, but the check was late—a week late. And I’d forgotten about the payment.

When I went online to balance the account and noticed the $25 overdraft charge, I was sick—especially when I noticed that it had been deducted within the past hour.

I was mad. Mad at myself. But madder at God.

“I’ve been trying so hard, Lord,” I complained. “And I’ve been doing so well. How could You do this to me?”

And I’d had such a good attitude earlier that same week when an order for 100 of my books fell through. “Oh, well,” I said at the time. “That’s the way the cookie crumbles.”

Then came the overdraft—and this cookie crumbled.

“It isn’t my fault the check was late,” I whined. “And, in regard to that canceled book order, I didn’t count my chickens before they were hatched. The guy said in the spring he wanted the books. It was only last week that I noticed the money would have nicely taken care of the fall taxes, the heating oil, and the car insurance. How could You do this to me?”

I spouted. I pouted. I spouted some more. I still maintained my peace about the book order, but I stewed and spewed about the overdraft.

It took several days of complaining to the Almighty that it wasn’t my fault, I had no control over when the check came in, but He did. Yada, yada, yada.

Somewhere during one of my non-spewing moments, it occurred to me that if I’d put some money aside as a cushion, to cover the payment should a check come late, instead of living from paycheck to paycheck, I’d have avoided the overdraft.

OK, so I knew that all long. I just wouldn’t admit it.

So now I’m trying to squirrel away a little bit every payday in a “cushion fund.”

Live and learn. Even in your senior years.

I don’t know if you’d noticed, but the past several columns have covered the Fruit of the Spirit—love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness, goodness, meekness, and faith. But I struggled with the last one—self control.

Sigh. I still do.

Dear God, I tend to forget that everything You allow in my life has a purpose. Thank You for reminding me. Amen.

Read and reflect on Galatians 5:2223 and Psalm 40

From God, Me, & a Cup of Tea, Vol. 3 © 2019 Michele Huey. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

Hangeth Thou in There

 

The fruit of the Spirit is . . . patience. –Galatians 5:22 NIV

Do not throw away this confident trust in the Lord, no matter what happens. … Patient endurance is what you need now, so you will continue to do God’s will. Then you will receive all that he has promised. –Hebrews 10:35–36 NLT

“Any time a man takes a stand, there will come a time when he’ll be tested to see how firmly his feet are planted.” –Author unknown

It all began with an email—one of those forwards I usually delete without opening. All my bad luck I can blame on deleting them, because most come with a curse or a guilt trip if I don’t forward it to seven or ten or a hundred friends within seven minutes.

But this one I opened and scanned the contents. Then my eyes stopped. “God, deliver the person reading this right now from debt and debt burdens.”

With a son in college and the escalating cost of living, it was getting harder and harder to keep our heads above water.

The following Sunday (Okay, I forwarded it to seven people, including the person who sent it to me—may the gods of cyberspace be appeased), I noticed in the church bulletin an announcement about a workshop for managing finances. “Get control of your finances. Get out of debt.” I read.

“We’re going,” I told my husband.

After the workshop, we resolved to commit ourselves to getting our finances under control. And we started praying together every morning at 5:30 a.m. before Dean left for work.

At first things seemed to be going smoothly. Two unexpected checks came in that month to help the income meet the outgo. We came up with numerous, creative ways to tighten our belts, streamline and simplify.

Then our son’s car—the one Dean worked on all summer and into which we’d poured hundreds of dollars—broke down. It was like a giant hand was pushing us back under water. For two weeks, Dean tinkered with it, trying to figure out what the problem was. Then he turned it over to an engine repair shop that still couldn’t find the problem after two weeks.

We asked ourselves, “What’s this going to cost?”

My freelance income had all but dried up.

The more I prayed, the more I heard God telling me, over and over and over: Be still. Wait. Be patient.

Waiting is not one of my strong points, and patience is not a virtue I possess in abundance.

But everywhere I turned there it was: on the screen at church as we sang worship songs, on a bowl on a friend’s coffee table, in my devotional readings—Be still. Wait. Be patient.

My journal pages filled up with Scripture that jumped out at me and insights that pierced my mind like a well-aimed arrow. One morning I wrote: “I want this time to be over quickly, learn the lesson, and move on to better things, out of the hole of debt. But God is doing a greater work in us.

“Our marriage relationship is becoming stronger. We’ve become closer as we discuss things and as we pray together every morning. We try to help each other out of the funk we get in when we focus on the mountain and not on the God who’s bigger than the mountain. We’re seeing more of what we have and less of what we don’t have, what we truly need and what we could do without. And God is strengthening the ‘do-without’ so we don’t miss what we’ve eliminated. He’s showing us where we’re weak and helping us to overcome those weaknesses.

“We’re on the road to a better, stronger, more satisfying marriage; a simple, more satisfying lifestyle, and a closer walk with God as we learn to depend on Him and trust Him more and more.

“This process takes time. I should not rush it. God knows what He’s doing.”

Dear God, help me to hang in there. Remind me that what You have in store for us will be worth the wait. Amen.

Read and reflect on James 1:2–4; 5:7–11.

PLEASE NOTE: This was written in 2008 and included in my latest devotional book, God, Me, & a Cup of Tea, Vol. 3. Our son has since been weaned from the wallet, and DH is retired.

From God, Me, & a Cup of Tea, Vol. 3 © 2019 Michele Huey. All right reserved. Used with permission.