A weekly tradition we’ve started in Jerusalem is going to the open market and giving each kid their age in shekels (about $0.25/year) to spend. They choose any of the fresh or dried fruits, nuts, vegetables or breads they want. It gets them interacting with the merchants, making decisions, and it’s a great antidote for the minimalist blues.
In the past I’d have said it’s also a great way to teach our kids the value of a dollar (or shekel). I might have gotten spiritual and used the word stewardship. But God brought me here to learn the opposite lesson. Sometimes the most spiritual thing you can do is spend. it. all.
Before you jump to conclusions about me, please understand: I’ve been a tightwad all my life. It was hard to spend money on myself because I did the math and knew how many needy people that money would feed or clothe or house. I thought about the missionaries we supported, the well we wanted to dig, the slaves we wanted to free. And that sounded a lot more fun than buying new shoes.
Which is great. As long you’re free to buy shoes or free a slave or whatever the Holy Spirit prompts you to do. But I wasn’t free.
When we went from one income to no income, I felt justified in being even more careful how I spent money. And when we sold our house, it was (mostly) easy to give away most of my possessions. It’s (mostly) easy to live out of a backpack. It’s (mostly) easy to go without comfort, convenience, friends, family, you name it, because going without is what I do really well.
But do you wanna know what’s hard?
What’s really hard is spending money hand over fist. Jerusalem is one of the most expensive cities on the planet. Plus, we came here to initiate a court proceeding to prove my citizenship, involving several thousand dollars in legal fees.
Spending this money isn’t building the kingdom in meaningful ways (that I can see). We don’t even get to enjoy it most of the time. After praying, fasting, and asking other people to pray for affordable housing, we ended up in cramped quarters that cost more per week than we’ve ever paid per month anywhere. Then yesterday I met a family whose monthly rent for a spacious house with a garden is exactly what we pay for 2 nights in our one bedroom apartment.
How did they do that? They prayed.
Hearing this drove me to the edge of my sanity. When I asked God about it, I sensed him saying, “I’m sparing no expense forming you into who I created you to be. You’re heart is so valuable to me, money is no object”.
Obedience looks different for each of us, depending on what God is doing in our lives at that moment. How free are you to obey, even when it doesn’t seem “spiritual”?