After the Band

In 1998, my husband Matt was touring as a professional musician with a band. He spent most of his time out on the road, and as part of that lifestyle he put everything on his credit card. He never really thought about his credit card because he was being paid well, and every month he would just pay it off. However, he had nothing in savings and every month he would spend everything that he made.

Then in the Fall of that year, the artist that Matt had been touring with suddenly decided to stop touring. It came as quite a shock to Matt as all of a sudden he was without a job, he had no savings, and he had $2,500 on his credit card that he was unable to pay off. In a kind of desperation, Matt took a job at a telemarketing company where he was paid a whopping $800 a month!! He was supposed to be able to earn more if he hit his commissions, but hardly anyone ever got there. So, all of a sudden that credit card debt became an enormous mountain which was more than triple his monthly income. (Take your monthly income and multiply it by 3, and that was the reality of the debt that he faced)

Matt and I started dating during this time and it was such a hard season for him, and much of the burden of it had to do with that credit card debt. Then one day, a good friend took Matt to lunch and told him that God wanted to deliver him from the debt. He said, “First of all just ask for forgiveness for spending that money recklessly and then ask the Lord for the grace to get out of this debt.” Then he added that he felt like Matt need to sow some seed toward the elimination of his debt. Matt really took it to heart, and the next day Matt took the contents of his wallet (which amounted to $1) and sowed it into the life of a friend from work. It sounds like a small thing, but as he gave it Matt knew that there was power in it. “This seed is for the elimination of my debt,” he told his friend. Faith was stirring in His heart. He knew that he was in an impossible situation with his debt-to-income ratio, but He really felt like God was going to make a way.

Within a week, Matt received a phone call for a job that would actually pay off a huge chunk of his debt. He was also given money by various other people, and within a month Matt’s debt was completely paid off. It was such a dramatic deliverance from what had been such a bleak situation, but that lesson has stayed with both of us in a powerful way.

I’m telling you this story today because it has definitely played a part in us giving up credit cards this month. Matt and I are moving into a more uncertain season in our finances… not that we are expecting lack. We feel such a confidence in God and that He is taking care of us, but that may not mean that we are always going to have a definite paycheck in the 1st and the 15th. Client’s may only pay on the 23rd or the 7th or when their financing comes through. We both feel that now is the time to be purposeful with our money and to use wisdom in not spending money that we don’t have. It is a dangerous game to spend counting on money that hasn’t come in and is not guaranteed to come in by the credit card due date. As Matt experienced as his tour ended, many things can fluctuate in your external circumstance that could trap you in credit card debt.

In fact, if you have any question about the security of your job, then stopping your credit card usage is a brilliant move. Otherwise you may face an unexpected mountain of debt if something happens to your job. It is not ever that you believe for the worse or expect to have no income, but things happen in this world that are not God’s heart for you. When they do, it is so much better to have your trust be in God rather than in the plastic in your wallet.

And I’m telling you this story because no matter what pit you may find yourself in, God has a song of deliverance for your life. There is always hope and always a way through. I want to add that what the Lord led Matt to do is not a formula for debt deliverance. God is not bound to doing the same exact thing every time. Sometimes it is a slow, diligent walk out of debt where He teaches you all along the way. And sometimes as you repent and turn towards God there is a sudden turnaround. As I have said so many times, it is all about your heart.

For Matt, his experience in debt had an impact for his entire life and for our marriage. He has never wavered in his determination that debt is not God’s plan for our lives, and we should never again open up a door that may lead down that road. But even when we have made an unwise choice (like our spending habits for the last few months), it is just a simple matter of responding to the Holy Spirit as He so wisely moves our heart and prompts us to change. It is in our independence that we get into trouble.

And the Holy Spirit may not lead you to totally give up credit cards. In fact, I am going to talk about wise credit card management tomorrow. But the key is to follow wherever He leads you. If you are with Him you are safe. If you are with Him it doesn’t matter what storm surrounds your boat. It’s only as you take back your independence that you risk sinking. Repentance simply means “to turn towards God”, and that means going wherever He leads you… even if that is into a life after credit cards. Because as Matt discovered there is life on the other side of credit card debt. There is even life after the band 🙂

God bless and have a wonderful day,