Often I tell portions of my experience with tithing. Here is the complete story which covers a period of thirty years…and includes several miracles along the way.
We were living in northern VT where most families were at poverty level. Why were we there? One reason was because I wanted to escape from the materialism I disliked in CT. We became poor beyond my wildest dreams.
Our family included my husband (steadily employed at a bank), myself (running a free used clothes room in church building) and our four children attending a rural grade school. In-laws helped us buy a small house formerly used as a summer camp. The mortgage and car payments precluded eating out at restaurants, buying new clothes (grandparent’s gift got new undies for school), or vacations unless someone offered us a place to stay free. Buying food for six meant cutting a pound of hamburg into three portions. Even our garden refused to yield little in the short growing season except scruffy carrots and a poem I wrote about honking geese flying south overhead. I provided after school care for a friend’s daughter, cooked at the school, and then tried selling religious books and Shaklee vitamins.
These things did little to help our finances. That is when I read or heard about tithing…I don’t remember which. But Bible verses promised: “Bring all the tithes into My storehouse; see if I will not open the windows of heaven and pour you out a blessing”, also “Give and it shall be given to you, heaped up, pressed down and running over.” Did we really have any choice?
We began tithing 10%, most coming from my husband’s earnings. Was there immediate improvement? That would be a miracle, right? Not in God’s economy. Seed sown must be patiently waited for.
So what did happen? My husband was forced into quitting his job, meaning there was no unemployment income. We had to take the money our kids earned helping their grandparents in order to buy milk and put gas in the car. We both had to work part-time temporary jobs, delivering newspapers, stocking shelves, selling phones, and once working three months on third shift an hour’s drive from our house. Did we stop tithing? Thankfully, no.
But I did get some financial wisdom from the marketing and sales tapes my Shaklee supervisor sent. One speaker said to check your financial earnings over the past 5 years. He bet the figures plateaued at the same point each year…he was right. No matter what weird combination of jobs we had held or which state we lived in, we earned exactly $22K each year. EXACTLY! That meant, without some miracle nothing would ever change.
I firmly believe our miracle finally came from insights gained due to tithing…my husband’s parents saw a job listing in their CT paper and offered to let us stay with them. Both of us got decent jobs, and our income finally jumped that plateau for the first time. We got an apartment. Our kids found after-school and summer jobs, too. An inheritance paid off our credit card debt. My husband got steady employment with the post office. After two bad renters, we let his old bank take back the VT house.
Even after a divorce and living alone in a studio apartment, I kept tithing. My salary doubled in less than ten years. When I was forced to retire, my income doubled for that one year…a miraculous repayment of all I had given away.
Whenever financial doubt creeps in, I remind myself out loud: “I always have enough to meet my needs and give to others.” Then once a month, I get out my checkbook and give back to the Lord.
Location: VT: 1970-1980s