30-year mortgages, car loans, credit cards and the like have helped Americans buy homes, have reliable transportation, and make it through those challenging moments for decades now. They have been both a godsend and the bane of western civilization. I regrettably have 21 more years on the first one, 2 too many of the second, and more thousands than I want to admit on the third. I can’t help but think that I wouldn’t be destitute if those debt machines didn’t exist. I’d be renting something a little small I guess (and not having to fix the air conditioning for the 4th time in 3 years.) I’d be driving something a little older I suppose. (I probably would have fixed my 2003 X-Terra when it just needed a new alternator instead of buying a brand new truck.) And I guess I just wouldn’t have bought some things. I honestly don’t think I’ve ever paid for anything stupid with the credit card. But because I have bought stupid stuff with my debit card, depleting the checking account to a point when an emergency happened that I HAD to put it on the credit card. But if credit cards didn’t exist, what would I do? If I couldn’t get those brake-pads or fix that AC or purchase those school books, what would I have done? On some items over the years, I would have just waited or gotten creative. But there are truly some issues that would be impossible to get around. You need transportation to get to your job to make money in order to pay for that transportation, right? So, instead of asking, what would I do if there were no lending banks, and Sallie Mae was just a nice lady at your school that helped you find free money, and spending more than you made in a given month was simply impossible; ask yourself WHAT WOULD GOD BE DOING?
We have lost what it means to be a Farmer. In Biblical times, everyone was affected by the Farmer. If the Farmers had a good season and a bountiful harvest, that meant lots of dough (see what I did there) for the Farmer’s pocket and less expensive groceries for the average shepherd or blacksmith family out there grinding hard for each shekel. But if the Farmer had a poor season filled with droughts or floods or insectosauruses, that meant that the Farmer would be barely scrapping by and the law of demand raises the price of the goods so high that it seriously hinders the working man’s budget. So everyone prayed for the rain.
Now I’ve never heard of a lazy Farmer. They bust their butts sowing and milking and reaping and slaughtering. But even if a farmer tills the ground exactly right, and lays the seeds in perfect rows, and does everything that is needed in preparation, it still takes God to bring the rains. It created a beautiful dependency on the One who controls all nature. No matter how “good” a farmer you were, you still need God to send the rain. It’s why everyone was a theist to some degree back in the day. They prayed to some sort of deity because humans are quick to recognize the utter incapability they have to make it rain. It’s such a simple process and yet it is totally beyond the most skilled Farmer.
This is what is totally lost on us today. Don’t get me wrong, we shoot up the daily “Lord, help me find my keys” prayers or for my student readers, the “Jesus, help me pass this test” prayers. But these prayers are so light and quick that when God answers that prayer, He gets nothing more than a spiritual fist bump. We also are adept to praying for illnesses and other crises. I often find that people don’t even know how to pray. Not that they’re doing it wrong, it’s just that they are uncomfortable with it. We don’t know if we should pray for healing or for the doctors to have wisdom or just for God’s Will to occur or all of the above. It’s because we’re not used to serious praying. We aren’t used to praying for the rain.
When we need a place to live, we borrow money. When we need a car to drive, we borrow money. When we are a little short at the end of the month, we borrow money. When a catastrophe happens, we borrow money. When we want to continue our education, we borrow money. When we want to start a business, we borrow money. When we buy a computer, or an engagement ring, or have medical bills, or we want a new miniature teacup puppy, or when Disney runs a park-hopper discount for weekday only (including blackout dates) we choose the easy, monthly payment option. It’s just a few dollars a month. What would happen if we just didn’t buy stuff we didn’t have money for, and started praying instead? What if we prayed for the Lord to provide a place to live on what we could afford? What if we prayed for God to provide transportation to the places we needed to go? What if we waited on God to provide when we were short each month? What if we got on our knees and begged for the Creator and Savior to meet whatever need came our way? What if before we paid for school, or bought computers, or jewelry, or puppies, or Disney tickets we really prayed to see if God wanted us to use His money He has lent to us for such purchases. Maybe if God really wanted us to have such things, He would create a path for such things. Maybe He had a less expensive or even free alternative, but we were so quick to swipe the card or sign for the loan that we stopped looking for the blessing?
Even Farmers today can take a loan out and pay the government for them to divert water to their crops. Even our Farmers have forgotten how to pray for rain. We’ve lost our daily dependence. I want it, and it’s so hard to get it in a world filled with credit.
I am no hypocrite. I’m writing this post because I spent a weekend putting the cost of repair for 2 broken air conditioners on my 2 houses on my credit card (because they broke simultaneously), while at the same time searching autotrader.com for a used truck (because well I want one instead my boring compact sedan.) I felt so convicted last night. Do I trust God enough to pray in the midst of the summer heat? The whole scenario played out like a Skit Guys drama in my mind. How many beads of sweat would it take before I just pulled out my Platinum Credit Card? Could I make it through that bead of back-sweat that started at the nape of my neck and traveled straight down my spine to my, well, never mind. Do I think God would let me die of heat exhaustion before providing a solution to my air conditioner? Didn’t people live in Florida before air conditioners? So I say all that to tell you I stink at trusting God. I’ve seen how amazing God is when you wait (i.e. God provided a house for me right when I needed it, right where I needed it for FREE), I’ve seen God provide food when I had $5.80 in my bank account, I’ve seen God bring in money for mission trips all the way up to the final day I’m leaving, and I still don’t naturally trust in God to provide. (I’m better with all this intellectually, rather than practically.) But I write this to say, I want to be better. I write this to say, I’m going to try to trust more. I can’t help the past, but I can make tough choices moving forward. You can do it to, one issue at a time. (Which, be aware, might get rapid-fired at you.)
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(Oh, and I decided to not buy a truck… right now.)