A Test of Trust
"Honey, I think God wants me to quit my job."
My husband looked up slowly from his dinner plate, wondering if he had heard me correctly. His doubt gave way to panic the moment our eyes locked. We were enjoying a rare date night since becoming adoptive parents just weeks earlier, and he could tell by my expression that my bombshell statement was completely serious.
"Dear, you know that can’t happen," he said. "We’ve gone over the numbers, and we need your salary."
Educated in accounting and finance, my husband knew our income and expenses right down to the last jot and tittle. If he said the numbers wouldn’t add up, I believed him. But that hadn’t stopped my heart from aching with this need to stay home with our precious son. We had brought him home from Russia two-and-a-half months earlier. The entire season felt so crazy. With very short notice, we went from young professionals to world travelers to parents of a two-year-old.
Within weeks of learning about our little boy, I found myself trading business suits for t-shirts and jeans, a brief case for a diaper bag, and business meetings downtown for playdates in the park. Of course, these changes would be temporary, since my employer only allowed me 12 weeks of family leave. At least that’s what I thought.
As the days ticked by, though, and I contemplated the life path of this precious toddler we joyfully called son, my heart began to change. I had once thrived on connecting with Pittsburgh’s corporate and foundation executives. Now, though, I couldn’t imagine disconnecting from my toddler’s world. So I began to pray.
"Lord, how do I leave this little boy?" I asked. "He has already been orphaned and then removed from his home country to live with foreign-speaking parents in a strange land. How do I now make him transition again?"
The thought gnawed at me. Our adoption process had been expensive. On top of that, the agency originally told us we had a long wait before the adoption. So we sold our condo and bought a new house that we planned to get all ready for his homecoming months down the road. I knew that we relied on at least part of my income to cover these investments. And as relatively new Christians, we had committed ourselves to tithing our salaries no matter what. The idea of my quitting my job completely was a pipe dream! But the stirring continued, so I kept praying. Finally, I knew I had to speak with my husband.
A few days after our talk, my husband presented me with a spreadsheet: our family budget. I could see clearly by the red ink in the expense column that we weren’t going to make it on my husband’s salary alone. Yet every fiber of my being told me I was to resign, and I couldn’t deny it. My husband and I agreed to continue praying for the next few weeks until my family leave was complete.
To me, this entire situation was feeling like a Malachi 3 moment. In Malachi 3:10 and 11, God says to the Israelites:
Bring the full tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. And thereby put me to the test, says the LORD of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you a blessing until there is no more need. I will rebuke the devourer for you, so that it will not destroy the fruits of your soil, and your vine in the field shall not fail to bear, says the LORD of hosts.
Just prior to God’s command and declaration, He had been having a conversation with the Israelites through the prophet Malachi. God told the Israelites all the ways they were wandering from Him, and each time they rebuffed His accusations. Then He would show them exactly how they were sinning. Prior to Malachi 3:10, God told the Israelites that He would return to them if they would return to Him; but they responded, "How shall we return?"
As far as they could see, the Israelites had never left. But God exposed their wandering by speaking of their tithes, the 10 percent of their crops and livestock that were supposed to be given to God’s Levitical priests. Turns out they weren’t giving the full 10 percent—and they and God both knew it. In the full measure of His grace, though, God tells them, "Bring it now! See what I do with your obedience!"
And that’s exactly what I felt God was asking of us.
"Give your full time to the family with which I’ve blessed you, Linda," I sensed Him urging. "Keep tithing on your family income, though I know it’s being reduced and there seems no way you’ll make ends meet. Trust Me."
And so we did. My husband came to me after about a week of prayer and said that he also felt I should quit my job. I returned to my office at the end of my leave to give them my two weeks’ notice, and soon I was fully engaged in the career of child-rearing. I was overjoyed with this new assignment, but a little apprehensive, too. What if we couldn’t make it? How would we handle the expenses?
Turns out, we never crossed that bridge. The shortfall that my husband’s very precise budget predicted never came to be. Somehow, some way, we met every expense we had each month, with some left over. Our son had his mommy full-time. My husband had peace of mind about our family budget. And God had two followers with profound appreciation for His truth: Blessings come after obedience.
Give and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you. – Luke 6:38 ESV