After that, I get a letter from some legal office telling me that my wife's previous vehicle (registered in both of our names) had some toll violations, from sometime in September, totalling out to $300.00. Now, I do fairly well financially, however with the recent additional cost for legal fees and what not, money has not been growing on trees. So I call the law office (I know my wife can't and won't pay them, so I have to) and they tell me, no payment plan, no settlement, and they want $300.00 or they're going to call it refusal to pay. That would allow them to go for wages garnishment and being that I'm in the military, that would go over so hot with my Commanding Officer.
Ironically, my normal tithe is $320.00. So my first thought and only solution (as I see it) is to skip tithe and pay the fine. Surely God would understand, right??? I called the Toll Enforcement Authority to try to work a payment plan and to my surprise they actually reduced the cost by $110.00 and gave me until May 8th. I looked at that and thought, "Surely God is blessing me so I can use my tithe to pay it and bonus, God still gets like $120.00." (Genius thinking, I know)
So, I wrestle all weekend with the tithe v. pay fine (oh and it's Andrew's birthday - doesn't help the money issue) thing. By the time I headed for church Sunday morning, I had pretty much decided to pay the fine and skip tithing. I had convinced myself that God had poured out His blessing, by the cost being reduced, and was allowing me to "skip out, just this once." Even though I had "convinced" myself that God wanted me to pay the fine, I was still questioning if God would actually do that. As much as I don't want to admit it, I knew that God wasn't showing his favor with the fine being reduced to tell me it was ok to skip tithe, but it was my safe room.
Then I went to lunch with some friends (Thomas and Angy Hogan). Some how this whole thing came up and they were on me like a couple of spider monkeys (well Angy was anyway). Of course they went for the throat with Malachi 3:10, which says, "10 Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this," says the LORD Almighty, "and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it." How in the heck do you argue that? Like I said, I already knew what the right thing was, but I had retreated into my safe room.
So this got me thinking about obedience again. I've already said that obedience is about faith. In Part 1, I wrote:
What it comes down to is this, God can't fully bless us if we're not obedient. He may bless us, but in order to receive the fullness of His blessings, we have to be willing to not question and be obedient to what He asks of us.
As long as we hold on to any unwillingness to be obedient, whether it's giving forgiveness or whatever it might be, we are only robbing ourselves of God's goodness and blessings...It is easy to obey the things we like, but the real test of our faith in and love for our Lord is our obedience to the hard stuff He asks us to do.
I just stinking wrote that a week ago. I keep forgetting that God has a way of actually testing our faith in the stuff we actually say. I put that out there and I truly believe it, but saying it is ALWAYS easier than DOING it. As far as Part 1 goes I was mainly talking about forgiveness. That in itself, while more emotionally difficult, can be acted upon primarily with simply saying it. There is some action involved, but a large portion of it is just making the choice to do it, then reinforcing it by saying it. This latest challenge is tangible. If I tithe, I don't have enough to pay the fine. If I don't pay the fine, I could get in trouble. I didn't want to have to explain to my son why he doesn't have birthday presents on Tuesday. This is something that would be difficult in a lot of tangible areas right now.
Essentially, with the decision I had made, I was telling God, "I don't trust that you'll take care of things. I have the money right now, so I'm gonna use it." I've been reading and writing about obedience for the last few weeks and when an opportunity comes to actually put it into action, I almost bit it. Obedience is the way we show our love and faith in our God. Our God is bigger that a $300.00 fine. He's bigger than a two day deadline for birthday presents. But I almost missed out on an opportunity to actually show just how much I trust Him, like I've been writing I do.
So, lunch with good friends is what God used to show me that I wasn't being obedient or faithful and to get me back on track. Friends that will keep you accountable are not always easy to come by, but they are so essential for growth in your walk with Christ. Without them, you are left to your own devices and you will always be able to make what you're doing, justified in your own mind. This obedience thing is WAY harder than it sounds. But it wouldn't help develop character if it wasn't.
Back on Track,