Debt, misunderstandings, and decisions

30 03 2016

Paying off credit card debt.

While my struggle against pride hums in the background, and my efforts to love my parents visits me month by month, there is also this matter of mounting personal debt. How did we come to owe so much on these two credit cards? Yes, we are theoretically committed to paying them off every month, but things happened, needs arose, an opportunity for a special family event came along and we felt we could not let it pass. But now God has convicted us. We must get tough and eliminate all our credit card debt.

I surrender! First thing is to cut up one of the credit cards. Next is to stop using the other one. Then I put up a paper sign in my office showing the debt, and each payment I make to reduce it. I’m encouraged by the progress. I feel more responsible, and in control. After a few months, I’ll be out of debt and can start building up an emergency fund. I will have money to share with others. Joy! (This really happened by the way.)

Working through a misunderstanding with a colleague.

How could this have happened? My teammate thinks I’m a flake! Despite my best intentions, I let him down. I didn’t handle a tense situation very skillfully. I did not make provision for his goals. I failed to intervene when the discussion was going sour. I blew it. Or not. Maybe he saw fault where there was none – took offense wrongly. Either way, we have a misunderstanding and our relationship is tense until we can clear it up. Perhaps this has gone on for days or weeks.

It’s no fun, but I know I need to take the first step and apologize – and mean it. Gethsemane asks me to surrender my pride, and Golgotha calls for humble words. I must ask my colleague for forgiveness, even if he does not say he too is sorry for contributing to the problem. Christ’s new life arises in me in our restored relationship. But even deeper than that, Christ has been displayed in the fact of my obedience, whether the outcome is satisfying or not.

Decision about a purchase.

Meanwhile, there is an item I would really like to own. Maybe it’s a book or a tool. Maybe I’d like to splurge and get my wife a new sofa for our living room. Our commitment to paying off credit cards rules out the sofa for now, but what about a smaller purchase?

The gospel cycle helps me with the decision. Remembering that Jesus accompanies me on this journey, I bring the desired purchase into my relationship with Him. In a sense, I bring the book or the tool into Gethsemane and tell Jesus I would like to have it. I try to hear His voice, and bring myself to the posture of “nevertheless” – wanting nothing other than His will. At that point, I am ready to go ahead and make the purchase, or to sacrifice my desire and go without it. Either way, I have a measure of joy because I submitted the decision to God and obeyed.

To be continued…

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