Where Your Treasure Is
By Samantha Keller |
Posted 11:44 pm on April 04, 2011
I was born with the blessing or possibly the curse of champagne taste. Either that or I read too many Jackie Collins novels at a young and impressionable age. Regardless, I like luxury, pampering and pricey elegance. I am certain without the influence of God, money would be my master.
And there were many years, as a follower of Christ, that I managed to justify materialism and consumption as markers of a successful and affluent life. It was a large gaping blind spot in my faith. Acquiring wealth was my impetus to achieve, but when I married a pastor, my paradigm imploded when confronted with the idea of true financial stewardship and sacrifice, a concept far beyond the proverbial ten percent tip( tithe) to the Lord.
I remember the exact moment I let go of the American Dream. It’s embarrassing to admit, but I was watching Oprah and The Secret (a new-age self-help book/movie) was the feature. I sat there glued like a freight train. I knew, theologically speaking, it was a bunch of baloney, but emotionally the message triggered an off the chart response in my heart.
And it was this yearning for something more, for love so deep and raw, that I was willing to walk away from all the perceived security of money and risk my life for something better. Something that felt right and something that whispered of God.
All my best laid plans to marry a rich man, my scheming and striving (for beauty which equals power which attracts…you guessed it-money), were put to rest, when I made the decision to open my heart to a man who cared more about people than things, hearts and not cash, and building a community instead of building wealth.
Simply put, I said yes when Jesus called. And there was no going back. The next day during church service, I leaned over and nuzzled Tim. His eyes were wide with shock because I had been avoiding the conversation about our next step in the relationship. “You can’t do that unless you are my girlfriend,” he exclaimed, ever the appropriate pastor with physical boundaries.
I whispered in his ear, “So ask me.”The smile on his face was from ear to ear, and less than a week later, he formally asked if he could court me and pursue marriage.
Ministry is a unique calling in that it requires the relinquishment of financial striving. Pastors generally don’t have the newest, latest and greatest (unless it’s an iPad). And if they do, eyebrows are raised and assumptions are made about misuse of offerings. So playing it modest becomes de rigor and it was a huge relief to stop the comparisons. It was if someone handed me a pass to not have to keep up with the Jones’.
And to my utter surprise, I (usually) enjoy being chic and a little shabby; wearing my clothes and shoes to threads, not feeling the pressure to be fashionable, and living simply without the need to find acceptance through my image in the material realm. I like hand me downs, clothes from Target, and the less is more mentality. Once I embraced simple abundance I couldn’t go back.
But that being said, it’s hard to struggle financially. Our family has two modest incomes and five mouths to feed and we honestly have a tough time juggling it all. I catch myself feeling entitled to things like a gardener and bi-monthly housekeeping. I can justify the expense because I devote all my extra time to ministry, but the truth is, cleaning the house makes me dang grumpy.
I try to make these little bargains with God, “I’ll serve you some more if I can just get a little help around the house, please.”
I can just imagine the Lord saying, “Sam, let me teach you to serve me by cleaning the house I gave you.”
I just love those conversations
Then there are those moments of “if only I had…” I am human after all and a woman. I still love True Religion jeans, but I try to remember that true worship involves a sacrifice of obedience, and jeans that cost an arm and a leg could probably be better spent on saving someone’s arm and leg in Haiti. So, when I am at the mall, it’s best to repeat “Haiti,” over and over until the temptation passes,
My bigger struggle is my desire to stay home with my kids. This burden didn’t go away when I married Tim, though it became less important. My income is necessary for our family’s very survival. This is what draws me closer to the Lord because He hasn’t delivered me out of my deep longing. The desire remains and I live in the tension between wanting and needing, knowing that God knows the difference and trusting him to make the call.
Materialism and financial discontent (always wanting more) are like a large glass of water with little leak. You can’t see the water disappear, but your cup is never full. I carried this discontent around with me for years without fully understanding the deeper desires of my heart; security and contentment. But as I began to understand the greater meaning of living simply, putting my treasure where my heart is, it meant I had to reevaluate what I treasure.
Do I really believe my treasure is relationship with God? Do I serve and love my neighbor? Does it radically affect my decision-making process? Do I want what I have or do I always want more? And if I choose to wear fancy jeans that are the dollar equivalent of supporting an impoverished child for a year, can I even sleep at night?
I have to believe, even though the journey is hard and the road is fraught with diversions, that I am better off choosing to live counter-culturally, even though it’s tough to keep your eye on the prize when the Nordstrom’s half-yearly sale is fast approaching
So, don’t be surprised if I drool at expensive denim and make little squeaking noises when a Gucci purse passes by. I’ll just be over here praying through my weakness and slight envy issues…(Haiti, Haiti, Haiti)
No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money. Matthew 6:24
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