Written By: Leah Austria
A few years ago, God's whispers of calling and conviction caught my attention. Some whispers were exciting to hear: hospitality, generosity, building community and sharing my faith journey through writing. But when He also asked me to address my finances, suddenly my eager ears pretended to not hear Him.
We had a house, two cars, vacations, and a busy, comfortable lifestyle befitting a bouncy little nuclear family. And once we settled into our new church community, our three kids were thriving and my husband and I were enjoying a marriage and family life that wove God into every moment, not just on Sunday mornings.
I wanted to be that good soil Jesus spoke of (Mark 4:1-20), where His good news would flourish and His glory would seep through everything I did.
"Send me! Send me!" I hollered at God so many times. "Tell me what you want me to do!"
But it took over three years to admit I had heard His response:
"First thing's first."
While many facets of my life aligned with my desire to be the good soil, there were still thorns that had to be cleared for it to come to fruition.
My life was riddled with so many distractions that it was easy to claim I didn't hear the Holy Spirit. And debt left no space in our budget for the generosity I so longed to practice.
Then, just before Christmas 2016, it seemed our list of priorities turned upside down. Or, perhaps, right side up.
The months that followed saw us purge 80% of our material possessions, find a new family for our beloved dog, sell our house and downsize from 2200 square feet of living space to a 900 sq ft rental condo. The process was physically and emotionally exhausting. It reshaped our thoughts about stewardship and taught us to surrender to God's timing and providence.
The practical wisdom fuelling these big leaps came from popular authors on minimalism and simple living, and even pioneers of the tiny house movement. My true guidance, though, was found in Scripture, where we are instructed to "owe no one anything except to love one another" (Romans 8:13a), warned that “where your treasure is, there your heart will be also" (Luke 12:34), and encouraged to be faithful with what has been entrusted to us (Matthew 25:14-30).
There's still more work to do. There are still lessons to learn about saying no and the concept of enough. There are still clothes, kitchenware, sentimentals to pare down. But here I am today, debt-free, living with less stuff and less busy-ness, enjoying a stronger marriage and family dynamic (a happy by-product of doing super-hard things together), offering to God a true availability for Him to send me where His glory can be magnified, and having the freedom to say yes.