By Karen Woodall
Writer, Editor and Blogger at Switchbacks.

Did you see the recent story about Kim, the college girl who spent nearly her entire $90,000 college fund in 3 short years? While she did use a chunk of it on her first years of school, the remainder, which would have been more than enough to get her through the last year of a fairly expensive education completely debt-free, was spent on clothes, non-essentials and an indulgent European vacation for herself. In an interview on a call-in radio program, the junior bemoaned her predicament and had no viable plan for how she would be able to pay the tuition for her the remaining two semesters. To be honest, the whole situation was so ridiculous it was hard to not laugh out loud.

But really, the most painful part of the whole pitiful story was that instead of taking ownership of her poor decisions, she blamed her parents for not instructing her properly in how to budget and was angry at them for not being willing to bail her out by dipping into their retirement fund! (Listen to the interviews here) While it’s possible that they failed to give her wise counsel about how to use her college fund, seeing that they managed their money well enough to have a retirement account, the more likely scenario is that their daughter simply chose not to listen. After all, saving and budgeting is much less FUN than staying in B&B’s as you tour the European countryside!

Now, I agree that it’s exceptionally easy to point fingers at the irresponsibility and naivety of this foolish 22 year old, but I wonder if, as believers, we all in some ways haven’t acted in similar fashion.

Scripture repeatedly inventories the fabulous spiritual wealth that is ours as adopted sons and daughters of God. Each of us has been given the Holy Spirit (Eph 2:13), spiritual empowerment (1 Cor. 12:11), a specific calling, (Eph. 4:1), and the certainty of heaven (John 14:2-3) … just to name a few. While we could easily spend hours adding to that list, Romans 8:16 sums it all up by assuring us that through our faith, we’ve been made “heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ.” That means that all that belongs to Him as the Son of the Father is available to us as well! And, Isaiah poetically reminds us our access to God’s spiritual abundance comes through a listening and obedient heart. “Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost.” He says.“Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good, and you will delight in the richest of fare. Give ear and come to me; listen, that you may live.” (Is 55:1, 3)

But instead of exhibiting a heart of gratitude and worship by carefully and faithfully following His desires and instructions for our lives, we frequently act just like this immature college student. We refuse to seek God’s counsel lovingly provided in His Word, and often ignore it when other desires burn bright. We recklessly squander our gifts and indulge our pleasures now, instead of laying up treasures for the future. And just like this young lady, when we suffer the due consequences of our poor decision making, we blame Him for not funding more extravagance!

(Go ahead and admit it… It’s harder to laugh at her now, isn’t it? )

I don’t know what will happen to Kim’s college career, but being a mom myself, I was at least glad to hear that her parents refused to bail her out and insisted that she get a job or sign her own name to a loan to complete her education. The lessons she will learn about restraint, hard work, and the consequences of poor planning will likely serve as a more practical education than anything she learns in a classroom during her last two semesters. But, I wonder if OUR Father, in response to our own disobedience, has a similar corrective motivation when He allows us to ‘do without’ too. Perhaps He knows that the pain of lack and want are often the best teachers to ultimately lead us to maturity in Christ.

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.  Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
James 1:2-4

Read more of Karen’s writing and inspiration over at switchbacks.org.

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