About a year ago, I started thinking about “investments” and what I’d like to learn in my life about investing, and for me that means far more than money–it is financial and personal. Being a symbolic and prophetic sort of person, I realized that money and finances are symbols. They are real and they are practical, but just as with sex and food and shelter, money is symbolic of something deeper. And as with many other symbols, money has gotten disconnected from its spiritual meaning.
When I was younger, I was more interested in just making it through life financially. Covering my bases, paying my bills. No one had ever taught me how to even balance a checkbook and by the time I was 25 I felt like I would forever be at the poverty line, and this would be my curse as an artist, a writer, or just the way it was going to be for me.
So my life was just about getting by. And money was either a thing that you have or you don’t. It was just ‘stuff’. And I hear this sentiment a lot among Christians. Money is just stuff, but for all kinds of reasons that ‘stuff’, or more importantly the way we view the ‘stuff’, keeps many in chains.
Christians have such a hidden relationship with money. We don’t talk about it very much, and some of that is cultural, but by and large I think it has to do with money not being seen as a ‘spiritual’ thing, so it gets shuffled away into that dualistic face-off between material and spiritual matters.
It isn’t just ‘stuff’. It is real, and people do need it. And more importantly we need it as a symbol. If there were no money, we as human beings would still need a symbol to act out our exchanges, our investments, our needs. What we do with our resources, how we view them, how we share them, how we invest them, symbolize worth in the world–the worth we put in others, the worth we have for ourselves.
Jesus used ‘stuff’ all the time. He talked about money, he talked about investments, he talked about food. He used them, and he tried to put them into spiritual perspective. And when I was younger, I had no spiritual perspective on money. I got out of college and I was in debt. I felt the weight of all my responsibilities, and my inability to even provide for myself. I was constantly selling some of my most precious belongings to get money to pay bills, and I realized years later that there was a key in that for me. I was always so desperate that nothing had any lasting value.
And what it boiled down to, for me, was: did I actually think I personally was valuable? Well, I didn’t. And that was obvious. I was quite proud of myself for not being attached to material things, that I was able to sell everything I had at the drop of a hat and take off, but the truth is, I wasn’t risking anything because I didn’t really have self-respect to begin with. To me, money and stuff was just stuff.
A few years ago I wrote a whole book about my journey with a spirit of poverty, and I’m publishing it this year. I wish that I could have added some more of what I’ve learned between then and now, but it’s a start, and a journey that many people I know have barely begun. This journey is about overcoming poverty inside, so that we can overcome it outside.
I just want to share briefly some of the things God took me through in this area, and probably I’ll post another blog about money, as this topic is really on my brain right now! I’ve had massive breakthroughs both financially and emotionally, and I hope these can help others.
First, I realized that I had not given God my finances. By the time I was 30 I felt so overwhelmed by debt, and in perspective I wasn’t in debt as much as I was in debt in the heart. I know some of you are with me on this, but I felt so overwhelmed by my financial problems, and that it would take me years to ‘get clear’, to ‘get free’ to do what i really wanted. And one day about 6 years ago, God confronted me and said, “You are still acting like this debt belongs to YOU.”
To which of course I responded, “Well, it does.”
And he said, “Will you give it to me?”
“What, to make this YOUR responsibility?”
“Why not? What are you afraid of?”
And then, I had to confront fear. I had massive fear around money and debt! That was undeniable, and I know enough about Him to know that where there is fear there is NO freedom. And where there is fear, there is also a good sign that we are trying to stay in control with our own methods. And the real bottom line I felt that day was: I don’t trust Him, either. I’d never actually known him come through so it was much easier for me to stay in control with my own stress. But let’s face it, we hate our methods. They’ve become habits over a lifetime, so we are slightly programmed to react with our own methods, but we all know how much our own control and worry wrecks us.
I don’t do this often but here is a really simple prayer to declare out over yourself. (Don’t worry if you don’t “feel” it. Faith comes by hearing, which means declaring it is declaring it–from your spirit to your heart and mind, from your spirit to the Spirit!)
Jesus, i confess any area where I’ve been irresponsible or lacked understanding of money in the past. I know that I am faced with some consequences of my choices or of others’. I confess that I’ve tried to manage these consequences on my own. I feel trapped in this area and I feel trapped by the enemy and my own weaknesses. I give you my ‘ownership’ of my debt and finances. You bought me and live in me! I want my debt to be yours now. You are the only one who can shoulder all the debts of the world, and you do this willingly. You paid such a high price for me, and I can’t ever possibly repay my debts to you. I can’t possibly repay all the debts I have to others, emotionally or financially. I admit that I’ve tried! Only you can. My debts now belong to you–here, please take them. I declare that they no longer belong to me. Please teach me how to live with wisdom, teach me how to live with freedom and not be afraid. Now that my debt is yours, please show me how to manage the parts of your debt that you want me to, so that I can learn about your ways with money and material things. I need your grace and revelation on how to manage YOUR finances and YOUR resources and YOUR gifts to me and others, and with joy!
I pray that you, too, would be able to step forward in this season of your life, and that He would release order over your finances. Sometimes the physical debts don’t go away but the mental debt can and will be lifted. Some of us have made contracts with others we find ourselves incapable of fulfilling. The nature of His covenant (i.e., contract with us) is that He offers His payment in the place of where we are unable. This was a binding contract He made with us, and we can lean on it! Declare over yourself from the rules of this law, a spiritual law He wrote in the universe–where we are incapable of giving everything we owe, especially to Him, He offers His payment.
Lift it up to him! I can testify, that as long as you carry that mental burden, you become a lot more confused with your finances. I’d get so overwhelmed sometimes that I lacked discernment about what to pay and when, and I’d just throw a bunch of money at this, or a bunch at that, in order to feel less frantic about things. Although the literal debt didn’t go away at first, I really felt instantly lighter. For the first time in my life, I actually liked sitting down with my checkbook and my budget and even if I only had a small payment to make on things, the numbers didn’t overwhelm me anymore. I kept picturing them as part of HIS pocketbook, and what a privilege it became, for example, to start viewing my education as something expensive and beautiful that He gave me and was willingly paying for (and no, he doesn’t care if I never did anything with it!). Whereas before, I had experienced so much resentment at the cost of my education, and whether or not I made the right choice at 17 years old, and the fact that I had to grovel for money. But He started to turn things around, to show me my story more accurately through His eyes, rather than through the lens of fear.
Now let’s take it further–the roots of debt: Jesus, I give you permission to go deeper, and reconnect my finances with my spiritual life and my creativity. I understand that money is symbolic of deeper issues in my heart and I give you permission to reveal and transform the hidden areas that have caused anxiety or mess with money.
… to be continued!