A few years ago I watched a video about an OB/GYN doctor who heard God tell her to adjust her lifestyle and live on much less than what she makes – freeing up her resources to give and share with others.
That reminded me of one of the guys who was in my wedding. He’s also a doctor and works part-time at strip mall and drugstore clinics. He travels around the country, works for several weeks at one place, then takes several weeks off, often to go on short-term medical missions trips. He is earning less than he could and has freed up his time to give and share with others.
What’s common about these two? Both are living “below their means” and are looking to give or share the rest. It really doesn’t matter whether it’s their time, their talent or their treasure – the principle of stewardship is the same. And the amazing thing about both is that they see God’s leading and guidance into the life of stewardship.
Many people, including myself, are looking to manage their finances wisely and save for college and retirement. Yet these two people challenge me to look at things differently. What do I have today that God might want me to give away? What might I be holding on to that I should let go of – financially, relationally, or in another way? What do I see as “mine” – when it really and truly all belongs to God in the first place? What’s the balance between “counting the cost” and saving for the future (Luke 14:28-30) versus living in the moment, like those in the early church who “had all things in common” (Acts 2:44, Acts 4:32)?
The lady in that video said that she “used to think that freedom and control had a lot to do with each other.” I think that’s true for me, too. Sometimes I think that if I am in control, then I will have and feel freedom. However, I’m not ultimately in control, no matter how hard I work at it. God is ultimately in control – Ephesians 1 talks about God working all things after the counsel of His own will and not my own.
So, maybe freedom and control go together – but not when it’s me in control, or trying to be in control. When I let go and let God be in control, I find true freedom. That has a lot of implications for me and how I live my life. For example, I don’t think it means that I shouldn’t try to plan and save for the future - that’s great. However, I need to submit all of my planning and saving to God and let Him direct me in these things – and to hold on to everything with an open hand, allowing Him to either take things from or place things into my hands that He wants me to give and share with others.