By Sarah Russell
I really like Excel spreadsheets. They’re so cool with their formulas and grids and table and whatnot. I know I don’t know how to use them to their full-extent but I really like them. Tonight, I decided to check out my finances for the remainder of my mission here in Japan.
I added up my expenses for the month (bills back home…like school loans and card payments, etc) and then multiplied that amount by the number of months I have remaining here. Then I put the money that I have in my bank account (money that was donated for my trip before I even came out) and deducted my expenses. My jaw dropped. According to my figures, I wouldn’t even have enough to buy my plane ticket home. I was shocked. I’m pretty good with money, I keep a pretty good handle on things, but these past few months, I’ve kind of let things go without paying much attention on it. I’m really sad.
Ok, sometimes I feel like God owes me certain things in life. A lot of times, it’s silly stuff, stuff that God is not obligated to give me; and even the things that I can legitimately expect from Him, He’s not obligated to give them to me on my own timeline. But when looking at my spreadsheet, I felt a wave of obligation come over me. Seriously, I came out here to Japan for a year. I didn’t want to come out here. But God set things up and I couldn’t ignore Him and so I came. I came knowing that God works in amazing ways, and that in my faith to follow Him even when it didn’t make sense to others, or me God would do a good thing. He wouldn’t leave me hanging. So I started praying to God… well, more like telling Him what’s what and how He better get His act into shape.
I was reminded of Moses. Moses liked things to be on his own timeline, but he also walked in faith with God. Sometimes God would become fed up with Israel because the people would start complaining the God wasn’t going to take care of them and they would often start worshipping idols. God would be telling Moses all these judgments that would be falling upon the nation of Israel. Moses, standing in amazement, actually held up his finger and said, “Um, God…don’t You remember that these are Your chosen people? You promised that You would preserve them…and You don’t want all these other nations to think that You are not a God of Your promises.”
It wasn’t that God needed to be reminded of this promise…He knew it. He never breaks His promises. And because Moses, in his faith, petitioned God for mercy, God granted mercy (whether by turning away His wrath or postponing it). It wasn’t that God changed His mind, in the way a person can change his mind…but because of Moses’ faith and righteousness (and in other accounts, because the people repented of their sins), God’s intense judgment was not necessary.
While praying, this came into my mind. I’ve always been in awe of Moses that he was willing to “remind” God of His promises, but I suddenly thought that I have the ability to do the same. Whether in sin or in genuine petition, God knows my heart, and He wants to hear my thoughts. So, I reminded Him of the promises He made to me… not really specific ones, but the kind like: “If I follow God, with childlike faith, then He will not let me fall. He only has good for me. He has a plan for my life and will see it through, and it will be a good plan.”
As I finished the prayer, I remembered that I made a miscalculation. I included about $200 extra in my expenses each month. So I changed that. I also realized that I multiplied my expenses by 7 months instead of the 6 months I have left. When I fixed that, I couldn’t believe my eyes. The sum of my remaining funds came to, $2911. Now…this isn’t a whole lot better. With the rising gas prices, airfare has really increased in price. BUT, the significance of these numbers is wonderful. It was a little gem of hope and love from God.
Even though the result of my miscalculations wasn’t thousands of dollars of difference, I came to the wealth of the goodness of God, that I am in His hand, that He truly does have a plan for me. Even when I act like a child with Him and complain that the things I’m seeing aren’t what I want to see, He is still gracious to me and reminds me of His love and His promises. He does keep His promises. We have that amazing hope and peace!
Sarah is a college graduate from Cincinnati, OH following the call from God to go and make disciples of all nations. Currently, she lives in Shimonoseki, Japan teaching English at a church and reaching out to Japanese adults and college students. She also loves climbing mountains, flip flops, and cloud shadows.