Eight years ago, I found myself in an insurmountable amount of credit card debt. Mine was a situation that had evolved over a period of five years, and by 2005 the debt had become a source of discouragement and anxiety for me. I had dug myself into a hole that finally served as my wake-up call to seek the Lord’s help and wisdom in the area of my finances.
I was a spender, but not to the extent of aimlessly purchasing everything I wanted. A significant portion of my debt was incurred by important “big-ticket” items such as college tuition, an automobile purchase, etc. While financial principles were something I had to learn in order to become free of the financial weight, I was not entirely untrained in this area. I was reared in a home where responsibility, living within your means, and saving money were modeled well on a daily basis. Even so, I found myself in a mountain of debt at the age of 29.
My father introduced me to Christian financial authors and advisors, and I began to seek their insights and follow their budgeting principles. By taking the initiative to study on finances, I learned a great deal about money and gained tools to set me on the path to financial freedom. I learned the concepts of saving, investing, purchasing insurance, giving, and developing positive attitudes towards money. The process for me to become financially free spanned five years—from 2005 to 2010. Giving to others, learning to designate funds appropriately, and exercising patience as I paid off creditors every month were tools used in my path to financial freedom. I still have a lot to learn, but in taking the small steps, I gained confidence and now experience greater peace.
The most important lesson for me, though, was being reminded of the importance of acknowledging the Lord in the area of finances. I knew I could not erase the debt nor become financially free on my own—I needed guidance and help. The Bible provides wisdom to all who seek it and gives mention to the importance of prayer with a thankful heart. “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God,” Philippians 4:6. When I developed a heart of thankfulness for what the Lord had already provided, including my employment, it enabled me to focus and gain a clearer vision to work to become debt-free. It also equipped me with the strength necessary to make the required sacrifices to work through my goals.
The keys which helped me become free are prayer, giving, exercising patience, seeking counsel, and having the desire to learn in the area of finances. Before, I had no plan. Had it not been for these principles, surely there would have been the potential for me to spiral further downward into financial distress. I asked God to help me make the best decisions when I did not know the answers. I now live within my means and enjoy greater peace and contentment. I am not anxious about the future, because I know that the Lord is my Provider.
“Cast all your anxiety on the Lord because He cares for you.” I Peter 5:7