The coronavirus will soon be one of those historic events we all will talk about. The conversations will start out with something like, “I remember exactly where I was and what I was doing when the governor of Louisiana closed down the schools.”
That was exactly where I was, in my classroom. It was Friday, March 13th, and I am calming my students down. My high schoolers were filled with confusion, a little fear, and a ton of “what ifs.” I had no idea that would be the last day I would see them for the remainder of this year! Do I have any regrets? No! I ended each of my classes the way I do every Friday, by telling them I love them, have a great weekend, and to stay safe.
Once the decision was finalized to close school for the long term, I started worrying about my kiddos who do not have the best home life. “Trust in the Lord, forever, for the Lord God is an everlasting rock.” (Isaiah 26:4). I prayed and gave them to God. Then I started really missing my seniors, who I have taught for two years. I did not get to tell them goodbye, chaperone their prom, get senior pictures to tape on my wall, or even hug them at graduation. A great sadness burdened my heart. I talked to God and put them in His hands.
I was at peace once more. I was enjoying life. I now had the opportunity to be a stay at home wife, play in the garden more, and sit outside on the back patio drinking a cup of tea in the mornings. This list of blessings continues on. “And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Jesus Christ.” (Philippians 4:7).
Even though I felt a complete calmness, which was given to me by God, questions still raced through my mind. “Is it okay that I am not anxious? Am I letting my family down by NOT stockpiling? Should I be more concerned than I am? Am I selfish for enjoying this extra time?” My Heavenly Father, faithful as He is, always answered my questions with, “No, Laurel, but…” and that is where I stopped listening.
I knew I was coasting through this uncertain time ignoring the rest of God’s answer. You see, this is how God gets my attention. He speaks softly to me, and I ignore it. He speaks a little louder, and I still do not pay attention. He gets even louder, and I acknowledge with an answer, “I will think about it.” Then the 2x4s seem to come hurling at my head. I feel and hear God EVERYWHERE after that! Eventually, I listen and give praise, “Thank you, Lord, for not giving up on me, even though I am stubborn. I hear you, and I will obey.”
Even through this COVID-19 epidemic, He has not failed me, nor has He given up on me. I ignored what He was speaking to me, yet He kept pursuing me anyway! He was trying to show me that there is an area in my life He wants me to completely trust Him with. Money.
At first, this seemed a bit odd to me. I honestly thought I did trust God in this aspect of my life. I am by no means materialistic. I do not crave to have the latest and greatest of everything. My husband and I give to others. What more is God asking of me?
Remember those 2x4s I mentioned? Here they come, aimed right at my head! I had not been tithing my 10%. You see, I had been trusting God with some of the finances, but not all of it. I acknowledged the tug to tithe, but quickly ignored it. Here come the excuses again. “How can we give extra money at a time like this? What if we cannot afford the rest of the bills?” This was a struggle I battled internally for a few days. I was learning, “cast all your anxieties on Him, because He cares for you.” (1 Peter 5:7).
During this time, God did not let me forget about it. He kept putting people in my path to remind me. One evening, in bed, I was reading. I could not believe! The author began discussing tithing and how it cuts the grip money has over us. Then driving to the grocery store, I was listening to Air1. It was a short message, but a gentleman was saying that tithing should not be stated as “giving.” We should say we are “returning” when we tithe, since it is all God’s anyway! Super powerful! Then the big one hit me! One Sunday, I was waiting for Trinity’s live Sunday service, and I must have clicked on the wrong link because I ended up watching a prerecorded sermon from March. Pastor Dennis was discussing how he had a realization that money had more control over him than he realized. He learned this from walking through the retirement process. Wow! If that was not God speaking to me! I now recognize that my wrong click was divinely appointed. I chuckled, not at Pastor Dennis, but at God! Always faithful. Never gives up on me.
After sharing these events with my husband, we agreed to begin tithing. I am not tithing because it is one area where God encourages us to test Him, but because I am learning to trust Him more.
I tell you all of this because I want you to know that there is nothing wrong with you if you are not afraid, not anxious, or not panicking regarding the worldly events surrounding us. I do hope you ask God what He is trying to teach you in this very moment. He will reveal it to you if you allow Him to. Pray hard, stay strong in God, and we WILL get through this!