Those who know me know I am NOT a money person. I’m not a good budgeter. In fact, I don’t even have a budget. (gasp!)
I’m generous, but not particularly responsible. I don’t understand what a “short sale” is, and I’ve never done my own taxes.
Once a year when John and I meet for lunch with our financial advisor, Jay, my eyes glaze over unless he uses the silverware and cups and plates as visuals to try to explain the state of our finances. Note to Jay: Cartoon characters would be helpful as would talking fruits and vegetables.
A couple of years ago, though, I got super excited because I had always really wanted to try my hand at the stock market and the guys said, ok. I was sure this was my ticket to the promised land of limitless generosity, and, let’s be honest, a limitless clothes budget.
So, I asked a friend who’s a whiz in this area and excitedly bought 500 shares of a stock that I was assured would do great (because it was “diversifying” – my new stock word). I put the “stock tracker” app on my iphone and was thrilled as I watched it go up and up and up.
Around that time I was in a worship gathering focused on Micah 6:8 “He has shown all you people what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly, and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”
And in addition to high-lighting the needs around the world, they suggested a lot of ways to respond and bring the kingdom – the world that God desires, like back in Eden before we messed up. Where everyone has justice and all the hungry are fed and all the thirsty have clean water and everyone cares about everyone else.
In what I felt was a moment of divine inspiration I thought, “Aha! My stock! My vibrant, up and up stock! Before I know it, it will earn enough for me to buy a well! It’s Yours, Lord, all Yours! Clean water for people who need it! Bam, done!”
That was in early April 2010.
On April 21st, we awoke to the news of the BP oil spill and my up and up stock went down and down…
And SERIOUSLY down.
Yep, that’s my stock. BP. And I was like “Um, Lord, did You miss the ‘It’s all Yours‘ prayer? Do you not want kids in Africa to have water? What’s the deal here? I was down with being part of the ‘Your kingdom come’ plan!”
What do we do when we invest time or money in something that we think is of God, for His kingdom, and it just doesn’t work out the way we anticipate? The way WE plan?
The passages that I read in the Bible about the kingdom of God are filled with weeds and stones, and pesky birds, and delinquent workers and some imagery I don’t fully understand. It’s not all easy-peasy “Occupy Garden of Eden.”
But here’s the important thing I see over an over again.
We’re told to invest in kingdom stuff no matter what. The stuff that makes the world more like heaven on earth. No matter how crazy or hopeless it seems.
You may be a kingdom-bringer serving, in your cafeteria or a courtroom, or on Capitol Hill, or in Congo but never see the eternal dividends this side of heaven.
And there’s the outer kingdom that we can see, where justice is restored and the hungry are fed, but there’s another kingdom to be restored. This inner kingdom where we’re on the throne and we need to hop down and let the true king take His rightful place and transform our character.
Maybe I thought I was investing in the outer kingdom, bringing water relief, but God wanted to invest in refining my inner kingdom, allowing me to be in a position to trust Him and His ways when I don’t understand.
If it’s a kingdom investment it’s a good investment, seen or unseen. The Lord reminds me with 1 Cor. 15:58 “…be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.”
What are some of the (even little) ways you’re investing in (or SEEING) the outside/inside kingdom of God?