My fiancé and I just bought our first house.
OK, so it’s not a house — it’s an apartment. And we didn’t buy it — we’re renting it.
But we finally have a place to call home for when we get married in the spring. The two of us were so excited to hold our new apartment key that we sped to the store to make a second copy. Our registry is just about finished, and wedding details are falling into place. Except there’s just one thing I didn’t prepare for: being broke.
I thought I had it all together — until I signed a check for my security deposit and first month’s rent. I thought I’d be able to handle getting a good job, finding a hip, cheap apartment, creating a budget and limiting my expenses.
I didn’t realize how unrealistic that was, or at least how unrealistic it was to think I’d have all those things totally handled in real life. Because let’s face it, I don’t have it all together. And even when I previously thought I had, it was because in some way or another, I was still depending on my parents. For as long as I can remember, I’ve lived in the suburbs of Pittsburgh, and my parents always worked tirelessly to not only provide for my siblings and me but also bless us with more than we could ever want or need.
Before my fiancé and I officially paid for our apartment, I looked at my checking account online. I just sat there, staring at the balance on my phone. My savings account was already empty, and once that check went through, I’d have ten dollars in my checking.
I freaked out.
I texted my mom about it, and she replied with one of her typical, supportive bits of spiritual guidance: “Don’t worry. The Lord will provide.”
Normally when my parents give me advice, even about spiritual stuff, I tend to roll my eyes so hard I’m afraid one day they might actually roll out of their sockets. There’s something about regular, forced advice that drives me insane — even when, nine times out of 10, my parents are totally right about everything.
Shockingly, this time my mom’s sentiment rang true for me. I thought, Yeah, you’re right. The Lord does provide. I forced myself to quit thinking about money after that. I thought, I need to push this out of my mind. And I did.
That evening we signed our apartment’s contract and handed over all our money in exchange for a key and a glimpse at the quirky, old apartment where we’ll be starting our life together. We were both glowing.
Later that evening we went over to a friend’s house for dinner. I barely entered the kitchen before my friend asked me, “Dani, do you know anyone who is between jobs and looking to make some extra money?”
All I could do was laugh. The Lord provided. It wasn’t a full-time job. It wasn’t a ton of money. But the Lord provided at a time when, for once, I wasn’t begging Him.
Often when I’m having a tough time, I get into the habit of begging God for the things I think I need. I feel like I treat the Lord like He’s a machine that answers prayer, and I’m one of those charismatic car salesmen in the poorly funded car commercials that are always 10 times louder than all the other commercials.
Low on cash? The Lord will make you rich!
Need a cute, equally yoked partner? Search no more!
Looking for a new job? God’s got you covered!
At least in my experience, God doesn’t really work that way. Don’t misunderstand me — I definitely believe the Lord answers prayer. But I don’t think there’s an exact formula that will get your prayers answered the way you want.
I’ve been begging Him to find me a job that pays well. And He hasn’t yet.
Maybe it’s because I’ve obsessed too much over my own prayers. Maybe I haven’t given the Lord room to do His thing His way because I’m begging Him to do my thing my way.
I’ve been convicted lately that my prayer life consists of me screaming — both figuratively and literally at times — to the Lord about myself.
But how often do I pray for others? Or, perhaps more convicting, how often do I simply pray for my own needs and neglect to mention anyone other than myself? Maybe when a worry concerning my life pops into my mind, I should clear it away to make room for worries concerning others.
No matter what I do or feel or say, the Lord will provide. He doesn’t promise riches or a perfect, always-happy life, but He does promise to provide for His children. I may not fully understand how the Lord provides every single time, and He doesn’t always provide in the way and timeline I want. And I am definitely still broke for the foreseeable future. But I take hope in the eternal, providential God who knows me better than I know myself and who reveals himself to me in something as ridiculous as a car commercial.