I don't know why this has been so difficult for me to understand. When I'd sneak in and turn the thermostat way up because "this house was freezing to death" and Dad would tell me that money didn't grow on trees, all I knew was that I was cold (apparently so was the house!). Besides, how hard was it to turn the thermostat up? How could that cost anything? I mean, it WAS just air, right? And air IS free. (Isn't that in the Bill of Rights -- something about the right to life, liberty, pursuit of happiness, and air?)
And, when I got married, and called my mother ranting hysterically over the phone because the city had the nerve to send us a bill for water ... well, she didn't use the same line about money growing on trees, but she DID tell me that water wasn't free. Are you kidding me? You have to pay for that?! I was astounded. I honestly and truly believed that since it came out of the faucet and everyone had it that it was free. Now if Pepsi came out of the faucet, I could understand paying for it ... but water?
I'd go to the grocery store and throw whatever I wanted in my grocery cart. Ding-Dongs, six packs of Coke, Lucky Charms cereal, Oreos -- oh, I'm sure we ate other things, too, but those things were the best! And it was fine because there were always checks in my check book. And, when you've got checks, you've got money, right?! Seriously, doesn't that make sense?! Well, it didn't make sense to my husband ... and it didn't make sense to our bank.
I guess you're seeing a pattern in all of this. I just didn't particularly understand money ... or the lack of it ... or the abundance of it. I'm very pleased to tell you that I've learned the value of a dollar over the years. I've learned to comparison shop ... to do without ... to scrimp and save. I've learned that having a check book ... or a debit card ... or a credit card doesn't mean that the bank will continue to give you money after you've run out just because you're a nice person. I've also learned that just because I WANT something doesn't mean I NEED it (dang it!!) ... or that I'll actually ever get what I want (double dang it!!).
Yeah, that was the hardest lesson for me. It's been difficult for me to want something and not get my way. I really, really like getting my own way. In fact, that pretty much rates up there as one of my all-time favorites. I'm sure I'm the only person that has ever suffered with this particular problem of wanting what I want when I want it ... and I've definitely suffered with it my entire life. I can pout with the best of them when I don't get what I want.
Because I have a relationship with an incredible God, He's taught me a little bit about myself ... and my wants. He's been gracious and given me what I didn't need (but I wanted!!), and it wasn't the best for me. God knew that -- I had to learn, and He gave me the time to do just that. He held back things that I wanted (and didn't need) and I saw that life was still wonderful without them. In all of our years of marriage, we've had some real ups and downs financially, but I can truthfully say I wouldn't trade a single day simply because of the lessons God taught us. We learned to be content with what we had, and saw the incredible richness of the blessings we'd been given in our relationship and in our children. Beyond all that, however, He's taught me that He is Jehovah Jireh, the One Who Provides. His provisions are so much more than money! He gives peace, comfort, strength, wisdom ... "things" that are sooooooo much more than just "things". That's probably been my ultimate lesson regarding the mythical money tree -- that there is so much more to being wealthy than money and things. In fact, even receiving the gifts mentioned above are second to the joy of being in a relationship with Him. It's only when I've walked with Him that I've learned how to be content.
Nope, there's not a money tree. Honestly, I'd be lying if I said it wouldn't be lots of fun to have one of those growing in my back yard. My family would see me cheerfully doing lawn work if there were, and I don't think I'd gripe about dirty fingernails or being sweaty. (Okay, maybe not griping about lawn work is stretching it a bit, but I'm trying to make a point.) Having a money tree would be fun, but it couldn't make me any richer than I already am in Him.
Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and how inscrutable His ways! For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been His counselor? Or who has given a gift to Him that He might be repaid? For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be glory forever. Amen.