The other day, Noah was drawing pictures at our kitchen table. “What should I draw Mommy?”, he asked me. I made some suggestions like a car, or a house, or a transformer (he loves transformers). No, none of those were right for him. Finally he looks at me and gives a great big sigh, “Mommy, I am very good at doing lots of things, but I’m not very good at making decisions.” I just burst out laughing, because Noah and I have so many things in common, and once again I was reminded that he exactly my son. In one brief sentence he had insightfully summarized so much of me, and I just had to laugh. “That’s OK,” I said to him, “Mommy is exactly the same way and that is why we need Daddy and the Holy Spirit.”

I have always had a difficult time in making decisions. Choosing a shirt color in a store can be a painful event for anyone accompanying me. However, most often my choice is not which color to buy but really whether to buy it at all. I tend to keep things for a very long time because I buy what I love. But figuring out whether I really love something takes some time. Yet, if you really want to speed up the decision making process with me, then pick a favorite and give me your opinion. Somehow, when I am faced with the loss of the one I actually like, my decision becomes clear. I think somewhere a long time ago, my Mom finally figured out this process in me and will just pick whichever one when we are shopping together, not even caring that I will eventually pick the other one. She is just so happy that I finally made a decision… I did not get my indecision from my Mom.

So for me, decisions are careful, well thought out (to me), and a little bit stressful. They are stressful because time is a precious commodity when you are shopping with three children… you only have a very small window before someone gets hungry, fussy, or has to go to the bathroom. So out of necessity, my decision making process has gotten faster, yet I always welcome outside advice because it seems to speed up the process even more. Whatever you like, I will probably pick the other one. I don’t know why. It’s not on purpose, it’s just probably part of my passion for the underdog.

Some of you are laughing and thanking God you are not married to me, and others of you are completely relating. But whether your shopping decision making process is anything like mine or not (and for your sake I hope it is not), there is something in all of us that bulks at being told what to do, and what decision we should make. I call this “opposite world”. Whatever you say, it makes me want to do the opposite. In “spiritual terms” this is the influence of the law on the world. Without a law saying that I can only buy red shirts (for example), I would probably buy red shirts quite often because I love red. However, if you put a law in place that says that you have to buy only red shirts, all of a sudden I resent that I have to and it takes all the joy out of my red shirt. Eventually I will get to the place that I never want to buy a red shirt again. The law is powerful to expose your heart, but it is powerless to change your heart. Only grace can truly change your heart, and give you the desire and freedom to once again want to buy a red shirt. Grace comes along and says you don’t have to buy only red shirts any more, but just hear the voice of the Holy Spirit. And as you and the Holy Spirit are in the dressing room, amazingly enough in that atmosphere of freedom, it is the red shirt that looks the best on you and the one you want to buy in the end.

This “red shirt” illustration is the difference between being lead into truth and being told what to do. It also illustrates why so many people fail on a budget. If it is something that is externally imposed, all it will do is expose your heart, and many times you will rebel. But if a budget can be motivated from within, then it really can be a tool to empower you and to set you free. This is why I have spent so much time talking about the “why’s” of budgeting. It is why I have talked repeatedly about stirring up your dreams, and getting a vision for your financial future and for your family. When you get a dream in your heart, you will not rebel at a budget. Instead it will become simply a tool for managing your money in a way that will enable you to reach your dreams.

Consequently, it is never my heart to tell you what you should or shouldn’t do. I might have some strong opinions in areas, but I know if it doesn’t come from a sense of purpose inside of you, then any change that you make in your finances will be fleeting. I think this is why God doesn’t thunder from heaven saying, “Bob, DO THIS….” He knows that just like the children of Israel when they received the Ten Commandments, we will rebel even though its what we asked for in the first place. I think this is why the Holy Spirit “LEADS us into all truth”. He takes us gently down the path and speaks to our heart in such a gracious way, that we want to go with Him. Our hearts begin to change and to soften and instead of (for instance) budgeting being a heavy yolk and a burden, we begin to see God’s heart in wanting us to prosper and to be a blessing to all the families of the earth. Budgeting becomes just a joyful tool for enabling our destiny.

My husband is such a good example of this in my shopping analogy. He usually will turn the question of whether to buy it or which to buy right back around and instead of just telling me which to buy (although he also does this sometimes too), he will ask me if I am going to be sad if I don’t buy it and come back to the store and it is gone. This question goes right to the heart of the issue and the sense of purpose. Instead of any sort of rebellion, it just helps me to know what is in my heart and whether I really love it and have peace about it.

We are going to be talking more this week about how to use your budget and other aspects of budgeting and I just want to remind you that budgeting is not about telling you what you should or shouldn’t do with your money. Rather it is a tool to enable you to be purposeful with your money in order to reach your dreams. What is it that is really in your heart to do with your money? And don’t just think what you can buy… think enabling your future, think having the resources to go for your dreams, think being able to enable your children’s dreams, think being able to fund the dreams of people all over the world. Don’t despise the day of small beginnings. Get God’s heart and His dream for your finances in your heart and it will motivate you from the inside out. As you approach your budget, keep reminding yourself of the purpose in bringing your finances into order, and you will find that it will clarify the decision making process. You will more easily sacrifice the unimportant, and more quickly recognize what is truly a valuable use and even investment of your money.