Sunday, March 10, 2013

Project 3:11 - Unexpected outcomes

Project 3:11 started as a simple experiment to go a year without buying clothes. I planned to take it as a time to think about the way I used my money, and consider how I could help others less fortunate rather than thinking about my own material gain.

But God had more in store.

Not long after starting my no shopping experiment, I became pregnant and most other things took a back seat to the beginning of my family.

I had to buy a few clothes, or I would have literally had to wear nothing once my belly got too big to just stretch my tops over. But I still limited my purchases to a minimum - I think I only bought a total of 5 pieces of clothing in the year period I had set myself.

Because of pregnancy and morning sickness and all that goes with it, I didn't really have a chance to explore the subject like I was going to but over the last year or so, both my husband and I have come to knew understandings and new attitudes about money and possessions.

It just goes to show that when God puts something on your heart, it is Him at work, even when it seems like life gets in the way. His purposes still prevail - we don't have to worry. We just have to be obedient and willing to listen to his voice. Once we let Him in, He does the rest.

My husband has even given up guaranteed job security to put his faith in God to provide, and open the doors He has said he will. We are not completely sure of the path God is leading us on yet, but we are open to wherever he takes us.

The results of listening to God's promptings often takes us to unexpected, but ultimately perfect places.

Sometimes the lessons can seem hard and maybe even painful - letting go of worry about what others think, of the guarantee of a steady income, going against the status quo... it can be scary to take that leap of faith. But it is often only a perception of coming pain that frightens us; in the reality after we do leap, we find no matter where it takes us God has already gone before and prepared a way.

We can walk boldly in to anything that God has set before us knowing we go with his protection and power.

So the unexpected results of Project 3:11 went far beyond just curbing a shopping habit, and reached into the very fabric of our family values and the direction of our lives. Totally God, and not down to me. I was too busy watching my belly grow to even notice it was happening.

It's only now that I look back over the last year, and over the years before that, and see the path that God has been gently coaxing us along the whole time.

And because God did it, it was almost easy. The times it was hard were usually because I took my eyes of Jesus and started worry, like Peter stepping out of the boat and then looking away to the wind and the waves.

Money has become much less of a focus, a career for the sake of getting rich is not our goal, and the purposes of God are far more important and fulfilling than any amount of security money can buy.

And we have learned a lot of lessons about complete faith. We have a long way to go to even reach mustard seed size I'm sure, but they have been valuable lessons.

And our journey is not the same as anyone elses - just because we have given up full time work or secure positions does not mean God is asking everyone to do the same. Just because I felt called to considered my shopping and spending habits doesn't meant everyone else needs to also.

But I think there are clear ideas all Christians should be considering in their lives
- We cannot serve both God and money/possessions/materialistic concerns (Matt 6:24)
- We should not be defined by our outward appearance (1 Sam 16:7, 1 Peter 3:3-4)
- We should be looking for the approval of God before the approval of others (Gal 1:10)
- Every good thing is a gift from God - while we may have worked to earn the money, who gave us    the ability and skills and opportunity to work in the first place? (Dueteronomy 8)
- Everything is God's, we are custodians and stewards. We should give freely out of that. (Genesis 1:1, Psalm 24:1, Luke 6:38)
- We are working ultimately for God, not for men. (Col 3:23)
- We should focus on storing up heavenly treasures, not earthly ones. (Matt 6:20)

And in any area of our lives, when we take steps of faith for God we can be sure...

He cares about our needs.
He will provide for us.
He will bless us with an abundance.
He will never leave us nor forsake us.

Look at the birds - they don't toil and reap, and yet our Heavenly Father provides for them. Aren't we so much more valuable than these? How much more will God care for us? (Matt 6:26)

Go Here for the other posts on Project 3:11

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