By now you may have figured out I’m a Dave Ramsey fan and of his Financial Peace University. But one aspect I wish Dave Ramsey spoke more often about in his sessions, though I understand why he doesn’t, is our dependence on God in all financial matters. Dave Ramsey outlines a plan including seven baby steps. These steps are a great tool for planning your family’s financial future, but even if you make it through all the steps, there is no guarantee something won’t wipe you out financially. Just ask Job. Regardless of where you’re at in the steps, you have to look to God as the ultimate provider. We’ve seen this many times in our family.
The Price Was Right
Five or six years ago, before we’d really bought into Dave Ramsey’s plan, we were having car troubles. One car was completely shot, and the other was temperamental at best. We didn’t want a car loan, but we also didn’t have much in savings.
One afternoon I got a call from the service manager at a local car dealership, who explained that someone in my church had heard we were having car troubles and wanted to help. (We’re still wondering who it was because we hardly broadcasted our plight.) Since I don’t know much about cars, I tried inadequately to describe the problems. He said he’d call me back.
When he did, he said he’d spoken to our benefactors and they’d agreed the repairs sounded extensive and likely more costly than the value of the cars. They wanted to buy us a car instead. Would I be interested?
Uh, yeah! Doesn’t every contestant on The Price Is Right want the opportunity to play for the new car? So I said yes, and he said he’d bring it by in a couple days. Before he hung up I asked, “Um, what kind of car is it?”
“Well, it’s a conversion van,” he replied.
A conversion van? Our cars were much smaller, since at the time we had only the girls and no intention to expand our family. But what do you do? Reject the gift of a new car?
So he brought us the used van, which was in very good shape. The Man’s Van, as I like to call it (a term heisted from my friend Denny Schaffer), was absolutely huge. Before, the girls used to kick my seat from the middle row of our minivan. They couldn’t even reach my seat in the Man’s Van, which featured four captain’s chairs and a bench that folded into a bed in the back, which we tried unsuccessfully to use as a family once on our trip out West one summer. A TV was not so common in ‘90s vans, but we had one with a VCR, which we were able to upgrade to a DVD player. The girls especially liked the mood lights, often wanting me to show them off to any their friends we happened to be transporting, which we could do because we had a lot of room. What seemed an unnecessarily large vehicle we put to good use.
Big Mac vs. Prime Rib
I don’t agree with those who teach that when we give God will always repay—at least not financially. And I’m certain our generosity can never match his. A few years prior to receiving the Man’s Van, we’d bought a used minivan and so had three cars, one that was quite a bit older and somewhat unreliable. We knew a young family who had one car and could benefit from another. Jeff just needed something to get to work, so I told him, “Hey, I’m not sure how long it’s gonna last, but it’s worked for us a lot longer than we’d thought.” So I handed him the keys, and they were overwhelmed by the gift.
Hardly a gift, I think. More likely a burden. But it did help them out. And years later when we were in need, we were presented with a similar gift, though much, much nicer. It was like, with my gift, I took God out for lunch to McDonald’s, and he returned the favor by taking me to J. Alexander’s. Mmm.
As a dad I want to provide for my children. Similarly, our Father wants to provide for our needs. Sometimes, though, we get impatient and trust Visa to meet our needs, but that doesn’t usually work out the way we’d planned. Wherever you may be on the baby steps, if you’re moving forward or seeming to fall backward, trust in God who wants to provide and who has infinite resources and who alone provides financial peace.
And if you ever want a ride in the Man’s Van, I’ll kick on the mood lights special for you.
You cause the grass to grow for the livestock and plants for man to cultivate, that he may bring forth food from the earth and wine to gladden the heart of man, oil to make his face shine and bread to strengthen man’s heart. —Psalm 104:14-15 ESV