Sunday, May 29, 2016

Tithing and Temptations

A couple weeks ago on a Wednesday, I was getting ready to pay bills.

You know how bills go.

Sometimes they go smoothly.   But it all just depends on how rocky the extra life events are currently going in your life.  There can be times when the deadlines of bills don't mesh so well with the rest of your life.

Well we happen to have several large life events going on at once in this season of our married life.  On this particular Wednesday, we had a situation where I had a choice to make.  I could pay my tithing, or I could pay something else that had a pressing deadline, and then pay the tithing on Friday instead when we would get paid again.

So I wouldn't really have not paid my tithing.

I was just tempted to delay my tithing 2 days.

That's not the same as NOT paying your tithing.  


Now, I realize that to some this could be a non-issue, because their agreement with God has different say for example, if you've committed to God that you're going to pay once annually, and that works for you, then I think that's awesome.

But my agreement with God doesn't really work that way.

A long time ago my husband and I decided that in regards to tithing our plan is to pay it first - it doesn't work for us to pay it once annually.  With the way we manage things, it's best for us to pay it off the top of our income as it rolls in.  Based off of scriptural promises and even past experiences, our belief is that IF we pay our tithing first, the other things will work out and the blessings He promised will come. it was Wednesday, and it would have been so much easier to pay this other pressing need with a deadline first, so I called Mitch about it.

His quick response was, "Just pay tithing - it'll work out."  I said, "You're right, I don't know why this is a temptation for me."  But he reassured the reason it seemed like a temptation was because it was.

So we moved forward with faith, and we paid tithing.

The next day my car broke down.

Then I was tempted. AGAIN.  I was tempted to be upset.

I heard this squeaking noise start to happen as I was loading up the car with my children in it. As the squeaking continued, I thought, "I've had a squeaky belt before...I'll just try to drive this down the street a little."  By the end of the street, which is not very far, the squeaking didn't go away, and I lost all power steering.  Turning around was suddenly a major feat.  I was headed to work, so part of me had hoped I could have gone all the way there, but as I was man-handling the wheel & trying to power my car to turn, I quickly realized, there was no hope of getting anywhere outside the neighborhood.  All I could pray for was to get back home.  By the time I got back around the block, which is still not very far at all, there was this burning smell, and my car was overheating.  I limped into a parking position, popped the hood, and quickly got my children out of the vehicle.  Miles was seriously worried and said, "I don't want the car to blow up!"

I pulled out the hose & started cooling off the radiator - steam was flying everywhere from every part of the area under the hood. The neighbor down the way came to ask if I needed help.  He was certainly amazing & found exactly what went wrong, gave me advice, and said he'd come back to help my husband when we replaced the pulley.

Well...later that night I was still tempted to be upset.  Why?  I JUST PAID MY TITHING, and the car breaking down wasn't what I thought we needed at this time...we have another pressing deadline - like the most major pressing deadline of our entire married lives coming up 6 weeks from the time my car broke down, so in my head I just wondered why this had to happen NOW - of all times.  But then that night we were reading scriptures...I'm pretty sure it was this scripture that we read:

And it shall come to pass, that if the Gentiles shall hearken unto the Lamb of God in that day that he shall manifest himself unto them in word, and also in power, in very deed, unto the taking away of their stumbling blocks—
 And harden not their hearts against the Lamb of God, they shall be numbered among the seed of thy father; yea, they shall be numbered among the house of Israel; and they shall be a blessed people upon the promised landforever; they shall be no more brought down into captivity; and the house of Israel shall no more be confounded.
I stopped Mitch & we read it again - the part about not hardening our hearts just really stuck out to me, and I knew that my murmurings were hardening my heart.  So I let it go, and I chose to be grateful.  And I know my husband decided to focus more on what we knew to be the silver linings in that day.

  • My car broke down ON MY STREET instead of half way to work, or anywhere else.  
  • Neighbors were readily available offering assistance in any way we needed - borrowing cars, mechanical advice, service....  
  • Irrational or not, the car didn't blow up like Miles feared.  (Although when I thought of the "irrational" part of this, in the back of my mind this thought reminded me that for the last 6 months whenever I had the kids loaded in the car & I needed to grab something, a different worry than normal would come to me, and I would think -  "What would I do if my car caught on fire & the kids were in the car?"  So that thought caused me to be cautious for the last 6 months and slightly paranoid.  Part of me felt like his fears really weren't all that "irrational" at all.)

After scripture study, Mitchell went out to the car to work on it.  When we popped the hood, we smelled something new...something that even the neighbor hadn't noticed earlier, but was shocked to smell with us now.  Enough time had passed by for the rubber burning smell to go away...the rubber burning smell was what caused me to hesitate in the beginning of the day - it's what I thought was really wrong with my car.  Standing by the car after scriptures that night, I learned that the rubber-burning/belt issue was just a cover-up for a much larger problem that I couldn't tell was there earlier.  

We had an electrical fire going on in my van.

And the kids had been in it.

The fire damage had ruined all of my automatic controls - so I couldn't unlock the car.

When we drive, the cars automatically lock.  Because the automatic locks & sensors were no longer working, that means I could have been somewhere random on the road with my car on on fire, and I could have had a very difficult time getting my children out of the car.

The realization just sank deep into my soul.

All of this happened on a Thursday - the day after I had been tempted with my tithing.

On Friday, we got paid, and that pressing issue with a deadline also worked out.

But every time I look at that is still broken down, actually...but, even though it's a hardship, and even though my mom's life is not easy because she's loaning me her car, and I keep telling her to quit enabling me by being so nice, and even though I cannot purchase a new vehicle for a few more weeks, and even though my husband is at a total loss for why the vehicle is not sparking even though he replaced so many things...

I am so extremely grateful that the blessing for paying my tithing was that my car broke down.  I cannot deny the overwhelming mercies that occurred - it broke down in a very safe place for me and my children, and no harm or trauma or worse hardships occurred in the process of the electrical fire.  I know the Lord is in the details and I know without a doubt that He protected us that day.

My lesson for the books:  Pay your tithing. Do not delay. Remember that when the blessing on your head is not what you expected - just be grateful, because there's Someone above who knows so much more than you do about the assistance you really need.

A few photos:

Here's a photo of the charred innards of one of the fuse panels - somewhere around here I have a photo of what seems like a huge bouquet of burned wires & fuses - some of them melted together, some of them were just singed, but all of them were brown & discolored from burning.

Just one example of one person reaching out to us, and while someone was already helping us at the time we got the text, I was so thankful this kind man cared enough to check on us.

 Here are some angels on earth from Mitch's teacher's quorum.