Saturday, October 13, 2012

Day 13:: I'd Like to Ask You a Question

I would really like your feedback on something.

Yes, you.

Each and every one of you.

Because asking questions is something that really helps focus me on the very heart of God. Questions like the one I am struggling with encourage me to strain my spiritual ears for His opinionated voice.

Before I even ask, I want you to know that this is not a hypothetical situation, so please be graceful in your answers, regardless of your position.

I may be throwing myself under the proverbial bus, but here goes!

This is what it is about:

source for picture on the left

And here is my sincere struggle, my heartfelt question: How do you determine the best way to spend your money?

I bought this picture a few days ago because I really, really like it.

It makes me want to put on a comfy pair of jeans and a hoodie, grab a mug of steaming mocha coffee, and take a slow walk over the water through all that light. I breathe deeper just thinking about it.

It has so many things I dearly love. I love trees. It is not difficult at all for me to imagine them clapping their hands in praise, or stretching lean, waving limbs in the gentle breeze of worship. I love the rustling, whispered music of leaves. I love how light pours through leaves and illuminates the delicate lifeline veins and makes the surrounding air seem a little more green, or yellow, or orange, or red.

I love how the water is still and gently reflects the light above. I love the wooden bridge, and that it leads somewhere I can't see, but I know I would want to go.

It's peaceful.

I really, really like it.


I can only spend this $40 once. One way. I will never be able to spend this particular $40 again. Ever.

And I haven't forgotten that there are real mothers who are desperate to give their thirsty children clean water, and fathers who lie awake in agony each night listening to their sons and daughters cry themselves to sleep from hunger.


The walls of my bedroom are literally, entirely bare. There is not a single thing on them. And I have a perfect spot for this peaceful bridge-through-the-woods picture. But... I can't help but think of those who don't even have sound walls to protect them.

The answer isn't as obvious as it may seem to some. As I posted about yesterday, I fully believe art is valuable, that it is invaluable! Art brings such richness, and joy, and God-likeness to this world. I believe art is inseparable from who God created each of us to be, and I wish with all my heart that we would each practice using the creative skills God has blessed us with.

I don't feel guilty buying art. I'm not saying you should, either.

The most common kind I buy is word-art. Books have been life changing for me. They have helped me live out what I believe about God. This in turn has helped many I counseled as a Crisis Pregnancy Center counselor, family members, friends, my children etc.

In the case of the books I am referencing, I think the return on the investment has been so far above and beyond the average $10 that I spent.

Words are just the easiest art form for me to use as an example, but I fully believe that there is priceless "return on investment" from music, dancing, singing, painting, drawing, sculpting, sewing, baking, photography etc etc etc.

Wise investment, for me, is a key element in deciding how to spend each dollar I can only spend once.

To take this to an even more personal level, I literally feed my family with the income I receive from my work as a professional airbrush makeup artist and hair stylist.

I want to be a good steward of the resources and talents God has given me. I want to store up treasures that won't fade away and encourage others to do the same.

So, I am prayerfully considering/struggling to hear God on whether or not I should keep this picture, or return it and use the money to meet immediate needs of someone who is praying to God for their literal daily bread.

I would love to hear your thoughts.

My question again is this:  How do you determine the best way to spend your money?

*This is a 31 Days series of Things that Help Me Focus. Just hop over here if you'd like to see the other posts.*


Rachel said...

Well you told me that if I read this, I needed to respond. My answer is...I don't really know. The questions you pose are ones that I have been dealing with a lot lately as well. Sometimes I feel like God gives me really clear directions as to what I should do (though, sadly, I do not always listen to Him...which I think makes it harder for me to hear in again soon). Actually, I think that may be it. the more I listen and obey, the more I hear clearly and can wisely determine how to spend the money He has given to me. But, for the times that I am unsure, I try not to feel guilty for the blessings of provision and abundance He has given me, because it is a gift from Him (this is something I struggle with, feeling guilty for the abundance) and try at the same time to be unselfish and hold loosely what He has given and may want me to use for others. So, not a very clear answer, but it is a work in progress for me.

Anonymous said...

You can always rationalize any decision. It is not just how you spend your money, but also time and energy. Funny, in men's group we just read about the woman, maybe Mary, who lavished a year's worth of wages in the form of an expensive perfume in worship, gratitude, love on Jesus. This upset the disciples, especially Judas, just thinking of how that could have helped the poor. And Jesus made this remarkable statement. "The poor you have with you always." I assume that was some kind of final straw for Judas as he began his plan to betray Jesus, seemingly, in part, as a result of this incident.

I think it right to pray about what to do with your money (and time, and energy), every penny (and second, and ounce). But, things that make you stronger or better or more efficient may just enable you to do so much more of what God has FOR YOU to be and do here and now. He has the cattle on a thousand hills. So if he wants you to have an inspiring, refreshing picture, it may lead to much more benefit of the poor (materially and spiritually) than sending the money to help overseas.

I once made a big mistake when my kids bought me a nice and somewhat expensive birthday gift. I had them return it and send the money to a mission overseas. I may have done more harm in rejecting the gift and the love it represented, in order to "sacrifice" what I would have enjoyed for those less fortunate, than if I had kept the gift and let my children know how much of a blessing they were to me.

Sounds to me like this picture is a gift to you from God.

One rule of thumb for money that I am trying to keep right now in the spirit of loving my neighbor as myself is that whatever nonessential I buy, I give the same amount to someone in need.



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