Spending, Stress, and Following Jesus

money.jpgYesterday morning, I was in the coffee place (a different one than normal).  Two employees, behind the counter, were talking.  They were talking a little too loudly.  They talked about money.  One said, "I needed to give ___ (daughter’s name) some money this morning, but I didn’t have very much."  The other woman said, "Why didn’t you just get some cash off your credit card."  Her friend replied, "That comes back to bite you at the end of the month.  I already have one card maxed out and I am paying interest."  Her friend?  "I have four cards maxed out right now."

Oh my…

A few years ago, I was talking with a young banker at our church.  I had noticed that he and his wife, both of them bankers, seemed to be very careful with their spending.  On the other hand, I had noticed that many young couples, both in and out of our church, were driving expensive SUVs, buying very expensive homes, and taking expensive trips.  I told my friend what I was seeing.  I asked my friend, "Where are these people getting this money?"  His reply.  "Well, let me put it this way.  It is true that some of these couples make a lot of money.  But a lot of what you see is debt. There are some people who appear to be doing quite well financially.  They are actually in a great deal of debt."  Hmmm.  Things are not always as they might appear.

Last night, I talked with my friend Doug.  We talked about the kind of environment in which most of us live and work.  In this cultural environment, we do not want to wait — for anything.  What we want should happen now!


  • McDonald’s — Who wants to wait in line?  Drive through.  A few cars?  Go somewhere else.  We want to eat now.
  • The microwave — Have you ever found yourself impatient as you waited all of 60 seconds?
  • Cars — The dumbest purchase I ever made was a Toyota 4Runner that we could not afford at the time.  I rationalized and then tried to justify the purchase.  I drove it for eight months before selling it.  Why did I buy it?  I thought I had to have it right then! 
  • Technology — You call him on his cell phone.  You can’t believe he doesn’t immediately pick up!  We e-mail someone and would like a response in a few minutes.  We are impatient.
  • Coaches — Win now or hit the road!

Meanwhile, the Psalmist speaks of "waiting on the Lord" (Psalm 27:14; 37:7; 130:5).  Wait!  Who has time to do that?  Something ought to be happening now!  Yet, what is faith?

  • Faith is not instant.
  • Faith is not an overnight thing.
  • Faith is not magic. 

Faith often takes time.  Faith is often difficult.  Faith is often formed as we live moment by moment learning to trust in the Lord.  Faith is not necessarily a flawless, perfect trust.  Rather, it is a process of learning to walk with Jesus over time.

Maybe that is why one father would say to Jesus a long time ago:  "I believe.  Help my unbelief" (Mark 9:24).


Meanwhile, here we are, living in a culture that calls for no delay — in most everything.  How do you function in a world that encourages impatience and immediate gratification?  What has been helpful to you in dealing with this? 

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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17 thoughts on “Spending, Stress, and Following Jesus

  1. Our culture and our churches seem to bristle at the idea of waiting – as you note in your observations about our everyday lives. Where is our trust in God? We were created in such a manner that all of creation is made to wait and rest. Imprinted in the very process of creation – was the Sabbath. What is sabbath but stillness and silence? For six days God spoke and acted – on the seventh day He rested from all His work (he was stilled and he stopped speaking).

    The prescription we may need more than any other is observing the rhythm of creation. As I look out at my window I see all the trees resting from their work in their barren winter state. Why do we think we are exempt from the need to obey our Creator and observe the Sabbath. Waiting on God. Serving Him through obedience. Creating space to find meaning in the moment. Punctuating our lives with the pause that brings life and wholeness. Cease from work and activity… be still… be silent before God.

    Thanks for this helpful reminder.


  2. Hi Jim, I have learned something about myself:  Most of the time I would rather want something and not have it than have it and not want it.

  3. Funny thing is, just yesterday, a college aged gal at the photo department was apologizing to me that the photo kiosk took almost three minutes to start printing my photos. An older woman stocking items on a shelf near us started laughing when I explained that when I was her age, maybe twenty years ago if that long, not only did we not have many (if any) one hour photo developing, we mailed film off and waited, weeks even a month or two for photos. The poor girl had no concept of waiting more than an hour.

  4. I think it helps to get outside of ourselves. I like to read broadly, particularly about other places and people. Maybe it is this vision of a different life that helps… where there is no vision, the people perish (in the debt tsunami).

  5. L.L.That does help.  Without doing something, like what you just describe, it is far to easy for many of us to get lost in our own heads.  Doing what you described sometimes has a way of clarifying what is trivial and what is important.

  6. Hi Doug,You are so right.  When I read your comment about churches bristling at the thought of waiting, I thought of Abraham.  He walked by faith not seeing the fulfillment of the promise and yet trusting in God.  We really would bristle at the thought of "doing church" for years and years and not really seeing "results" because that will come in the next generation. 

  7. Jim: Until both kids entered college and I was informed that all the "free money" funded by my taxes was, in fact, NOT available to people such as my wife and myself, we stayed pretty much free of debt. Paid off things at the end of every month. Fortunately, we’ve been able to impart this to our children. They HATE being in debt and do all they can to avoid it. Such as, letting mom and dad pay for college! But we don’t mind.Excellent reminder! Just reading in Yancey’s book on prayer how God often takes generations to fulfill a promise.