Billionaires of Faith
When I was a teenager, the man I refer to as my step-father, Daniel, told me that if I were to put away 25% of every dollar I earned, that by the time I was 40 or so I would have enough money saved not to work again. During that time of my life, I had the idea to be just like Alex P Keaton (character of Family Ties). You know, making money left and right; watching the stocks and making the trades. The problem I had wasn't in understanding the process, but I was too undisciplined to follow through. There was always a reason to spend my money and always a reason to put it off saving for another time. I was reactive and ruled by whim --- truth be told. But I always recognized the wisdom of what Daniel told me, even if I just plain did not have the restraint to abide by it.
Trent has been giving an analogy the past couple of weeks based on the very same principle, but substituting money with investing in a relationship with God. Now that investment comes in many forms: Prayer, studying His word, actually doing His word and the like. It's been such a great analogy, I have found myself using it when counseling people on the Ministry phone-line. His conclusion was simple and concise: If you're only putting in once on Sundays, or here and there 'cause you need something, well, why are you surprised when you go to make that withdrawal and there's not enough in the account? If we're dead honest with ourselves, we find ourselves in a crisis of faith when tough circumstances arise because we haven't been making the investment over time.
I heard a statistic not long ago which stated the mean yearly savings of the average household during the decade of the 90's was 0% or less. In other words, most households were putting nothing annually in their savings accounts, if not spending more than they earned. This is the same time period where credit was so prevalent that, as I saw it put in one article, "you could get a loan for any reason or no reason at all". Given the things that are said to me when I counsel people, it sounds like the same financial practice was applied to their spiritual life: "Hey God, lend me this much now and I'll pay you back later. Thanks, God. Cheers!"
Yes, well... the results of that approach (financially and spiritually) don't need to be pointed out anymore than what's apparent.
What got me thinking though, was this: If God honors our financial giving to the tune of 7 times greater than what we give, how much more the interest we accrue when we make spiritual investments? Really? How much more interest is given on that one simple prayer? And what then do you have when you make those prayers daily; when you search the scriptures daily; when you apply his Word in your life daily; when you seek His face daily? Imagine the interest amassed on that investment. After enough years, you're living off the interest alone ... not even spending the principle.
That has become my goal.
There are plenty of people wanting to be billionaires in finances. I even heard a ridiculous song about it while resetting the Best Buy stores. But imagine being a billionaire in faith. Having so much accrued that you can call fire down from the sky, without a nanosecond of doubt if it were possible as Elijah did (routinely, I might add). Or to be like Abraham who had enough in his account to know Issac was coming back, even though the LORD told Abraham to sacrifice him. Look at Abraham's words,
Abraham said to his young men, "Stay here with the donkey, and I and the lad will go over there; and we will worship and return to you." (Gen 22:5 NASB)
He knew Issac was coming back. He may not of known how, but he knew. That's amazing.
And then I think about Enoch, having 300 years of investing in God. If you know me, you know he and Elijah are my "heroes". They had so much in their account that God Himself determined they belonged at a different point in time altogether and they simply vanished from the planet right then and there. They're not dead. They'll be back.
Billionaires of the faith.
For whatever reason, I think for our first several hundred looks at the scriptures we just assume that God randomly bestowed these things on a few special individuals who were otherwise minding their own business. And then because God gave them these things they became faithful afterward. A closer look at the scriptures seems to reveal something quite different to that notion: What made them special to that degree was the investments they were making far in excess of anyone else. It was because they were so highly invested first, that God gave them those things afterwards.
For myself, I know I was quite surprised at how much I had stored up when the time came to say goodbye to someone very important to me, not long ago. If such a thing had happened when I was spiritually bankrupt, I would have been mad at God, wonder why this was happening to me, feared the future and doubted everything I believe. I know that would have been my reaction because that was my reaction over far lesser things. And I'll be honest, after the shock of it wore off, there was a moment of ... exasperation, honestly. I was tired and didn't want to do it anymore. But after that, in a reaction that surprised even myself, I found that I could praise God for their place in my life and all the things He'd taught me because of it. I praised Him for all the ways He changed me. I praised Him, sincerely and honestly, even though I had tears in my eyes. I still had thankfulness and gratitude even though I had no idea what would happen from then on. Having that reserve when I needed it made the investment worth it...and it turns out I had more stored up then I was aware of.