Monday, October 10, 2005
In one instance, a good friend of mine came over to my apartment. She was in tears on account of an bounced check and told me of how she needed a certain amount of money to balance her checking account. Rather than humbly seek God to ask her to meet my friend's need, I used my best charismatic style to rebuke the devil and decree that my friend's checking account be balanced. After "praying", my friend went back to her apartment (just a few minutes walk), only to come back again with good news. When she'd gotten to her apartment door, she found an envelope that someone had left there. Inside was enough cash to balance her checking account plus a little more.
Later that same year, I was scheduled to take a road trip during a long weekend holiday, but when the time for my vacation came around, I discovered that I had very little cash on hand. (I was rather poorly paid that year.) I didn't let that stop me, however. I emptied out my coin jar and counted out around $100, enough for gas and food for my "to" trip, but not enough to cover the trip back. Being a faith person, I set out for my trip anyway, trusting (or presuming) that I'd get the money to make the return trip. Upon my arrival at my friend's house, I got my answer: a check was lying on the bed. It was the refund for a deposit I'd made for a moving van several months before, and it was more than enough to pay for my return trip. Although it was money that was coming to me sooner or later, it certainly came to me at the perfect time.
At first glance, it might not be obvious what's wrong with these stories. After all, God does graciously provide for His people, and He sometimes does so in surprising ways. However, if you consider the tremendous amount of spiritual pride I carried in those days, not to mention the unscriptural manner in which I "prayed", I think there's quite another explanation for these occurences. Although I did hold gainful employment during this period and I was a fairly diligent worker, my overall attitude was one of laziness and entitlement. I did what I had to do to please men, but little employment during this period and I was a fairly diligent worker, my overall attitude was one of laziness and entitlement. I did what I had to do to please men, but little more. Moreover, I'd bought into the charismatic "health and wealth" teaching, so I believed that God had obliged Himself to provide everything I needed without my having to lift a finger. With these incidents, I didn't offer God humble thanks, but instead I rejoiced at the successful application I'd made of my faith. Moreover, they taught me that diligent hard work wasn't necessary for success: all I had to do was "name it and claim it."
Thus, the fruit of these extraordinary provisions, like that of all of my charismatic experiences, was rotten: pride and laziness. What's more, they contributed to my general drift away from Scripture reading and true prayer. My experiences were 100% real, but they were 100% rotten. The charismatic practices worked, but they ended up driving me further away from the Christ of the Scriptures.
Since those days, I've learned that God does bless His people, but He does so through ordinary means, especially hard work and diligent effort. Money no longer grows on trees for me, but yet on many occasions I'm blessed by an unexpected mercy from God's gracious hand. On such occasions, I find myself compelled to humble gratitude rather than arrogant boasting. As I strive to be more pleasing to God in my work, He in turn blesses me with greater favor with men. I'm now enjoying a period of prosperity, but I realize that I may one day have to endure a period of want. Whether I enjoy prosperity or suffer want, I pray that God will continue to give me the grace to trust Him to provide for me as I strive to obey His Word.