Although it seems like yesterday, it was actually 25 years ago when our three sons had one wish for Christmas – Starter jackets. At the same time, we had received our first credit card. As we talked it over, it seemed like a good investment. This would provide both a good coat and give our sons’ their greatest wish. With one signature, we started on the credit card journey and four years later, we owed $12,000 for vacations, doctor and dental bills. We had one trip to Disney World and the Starter jackets that were memorable, but the debt was unsurmountable.
There are outcomes of debt….
- We never have enough money.
- We have no savings when money is needed for emergencies.
- We have little to remind us what was so important to create the debt.
Our calling to missions became undeniable. As we began to pursue it seriously, we realized that debt could not be part of that journey. At the same time, we learned through a class at our teen center that with a debt of $3000, it can take several years to pay off by paying the minimum amount required. And you will pay the bank twice the amount you borrowed. It seemed unfair and made us aware of how little we knew about borrowing money.
We took the following measures:
- cut up the credit cards.
- joined a credit counseling group, saving us the interest.
- told our three sons that they would need to work to purchase all their name brand needs.
- set a budget.
- made sure that all reimbursements for the ministry were paid immediately to the credit card bill.
- never paid the minimum!
- never missed a payment.
Our sons took the challenge. As soon as they were able, they went to work and purchased their brand name items. They learned to work, earn and save money. We had to say “no” more often than we wanted but God provided every step of the way. Eventually, our debt was paid, and we traveled overseas to serve the Lord in several countries.
We found additional benefits, including
- We remember great vacations with grandparents, fishing and playing board games.
- We learned that life is much more important than things that have so little value.
- We learned to eat healthy. Restaurant food is so much more expensive and less healthy.
Our conviction is that He provides what we need, not necessarily what we want. If we want His blessings in life, we have to be good stewards of what He gives us. To this day, any time we find ourselves in a place where we have more on our credit card than we have in savings to pay back, we stop and tighten our belts until we have realigned our priorities. This might mean that we don’t take special vacations for a year or we don’t purchase that next gadget that seems so necessary.
Our grandparents and parents never borrowed more than they could pay. Today, our world is set to have more, live better and borrow to attain goals. My goal is to travel light, spend less, live in a smaller space and be free of all that comes with the “more” of this world.
Less is more in so many ways! With a smaller home, there is more time to serve the Lord and make a difference in the lives of others. With less stuff in a rented storage warehouse, there are more possibilities to share with others in need. With less debt, we can enjoy a date and have no guilt. With fewer clothes in our closet, we have more space! With fewer shoes, we can enjoy walking in the space given to store those we have.
God calls us to less because He knows it will be so much more. Less provides more time, more ministry, more giving. “Less is more and more is less…” (Psalm 37:16a). As children of God passing through on our way to heaven, we are called to travel light and to do so with joy! So much more awaits us in heaven than we could ever imagine!
Philippians 4:17 says “And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of His glory in Christ Jesus.” He promises to provide exactly what we need. If we will but trust Him, our journey of life will be joyful with so much less stress. We will be able to enjoy our children, enjoy the sunset, enjoy the many blessings He gives simply because we live within His will for us.
So, go for it! Choose proudly to end debt by God’s grace. Make it a matter of prayer and purpose. End the dream of anything bigger, and boldly go where few people choose to go. Choose to enjoy being debt free, living with fewer gadgets, less stress. God’s great blessings await!