Thursday, August 18, 2016


My youngest is studying personal finance this year in school. Before we talk about how to make a budget or reasons to start saving now, we are reading Randy Alcorn's book, Managing God's Money. This is my third or fourth time to read Randy's small volume on stewardship, and I am thankful for the opportunity to consider once again the biblical principles of money management which he presents.

After we both read a particular chapter, I ask Helen, "What jumped out at you? What is your takeaway? What from this chapter do you think will stick with you on into the future?"

From Chapter Two, Ownership: It All Belongs to God, my personal takeaway is the image of a broken pencil.

Mr. Alcorn writes:

"When teaching from 1 Corinthians 6 - 'You are not your own; you were bought at a price' (NIV) - I occasionally ask someone in the front row to lend me her pencil. When she hands it to me, I break it in half, throw it on the floor, and crush it under my foot. The reaction of the students is shock and disbelief. What right do I have to break someone else's pencil? When I explain that it's really my pencil, which I planted before the session, everything changes. If it belongs to me, I have the right to do with it what I want.

"Many of our problems begin when we forget that God is the boss of the universe. But in fact he is more than the boss; he is the owner. I might resent a powerful person for taking control, but everything changes if I realize he owns everything, and therefore, he has the right to do what he chooses."

If the pencil is Mr. Alcorn's pencil, he is free to do with it what he chooses. If he wants to break it in two and smash it underfoot, I have no grounds to object.

And if all "my" stuff is really God's stuff (which it is), then God is free to do with "my" stuff what He chooses. If I myself am God's (which I am - He created and sustains me), then God is even free to do with me whatever He pleases.

Understanding this truth - that it all belongs to God - has immediate, great-big-huge implications for my life. For example...

The day after rereading chapter 2 of Managing God's Money, I was driving down the road and my van died. It does this randomly, and it always stresses me out. But on this particular day, as I shifted into Park so that I could try to restart the van, I thought to myself: "Everything I have really belongs to God. This is God's van. He can do with it whatever He wants. And if He wants this van to die right now, right here, that's his prerogative. He is free to do whatever He chooses."

It was amazing how that thought transformed a normally stressful situation into a not-very-stressful-at-all inconvenience.

There were big, ugly, nasty things going on at the Kendall house last night. So, on top of the mile-long ToDo list I was anticipating this morning, I have also been washing lots of bedding, cleaning floors, and swishing a copious amounts of Clorox around. Yeah.

I was up before 5:00 this morning (actually, I was up most of the night, just not up and dressed and ready for work). As I surveyed the work ahead of me, I really had no idea where to begin. Before the sun came up, my day was already a disaster!

My day. Only, today is not my day: today is God's day. My time is not my own: it is God's. And God is free to do with my day and with my time whatever He wants. Even if it is not what I had planned for myself. Even if it means I never get around to the things on my Thursday ToDo list.

The challenge I face today is not how to make the best use of my time, but how to be the best steward possible of God's time, of the time God has entrusted to me to use for his Kingdom work.

It is amazing how that thought transformed a potentially stressful situation into a wonderful opportunity.

When I acknowledge God's ownership of everything in my life - my van, my time, my writing, my refrigerator, my school calendar, my children, my dreams, my everything - when I acknowledge God's ownership of everything in my life, I am free to loosen my tightfisted grip on personal expectations and desires, free instead to look for God's good purposes in the circumstances of my life.

My life? No, that belongs to Him, too.

It's all His, and He can do with it whatever He pleases.

Amazing how that thought transforms stress into peace.

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