Having been a Christian for so many years, I know all the teaching about faith and how God provides at the right time – and yet, as I get older I still can’t help being worried sometimes. It’s easy to be either a twinkly-eyed believer or be a laissez-faire person, knowing that somehow things will be right at the end. It’s a different case when you have a mortgage to pay that takes pretty much three-quarter of my postgraduate stipend. I survived my Masters years by supplementing my stipend with teaching as well as being involved with a large project at the University. I always managed to keep my nose above the water.
So sometimes I think I’m crazy for prolonging the experience for another three years by enrolling in a PhD program. These past two months I have been quietly stressing over my finances: due to some administration issues, I have only received the base stipend amount without the top-up that would allow me to at least break even with my expenses. With growing bills that I need to pay and the top-ups that haven’t eventuated, I have been using some of my savings as well. Unfortunately, that well dries up as well leaving me with only $4.31 left in my account – and had to even ask Yani for some pocket money. It’s certainly great for my male ego! 🙂
Maybe this PhD life is much better suited for singles who do not need to worry about mortgage payments and bills to pay – for me, it has made me worry a bit. I have even seriously contemplated in getting a part-time job so I can keep my head above water. I really don’t want to touch Yani’s savings – in our household, I take care of the mortgage and all of the bills, while she takes care of the grocery shopping, which should leave some fund for her to save and enjoy.
So while the bureaucracy wheels slowly move to process my top-ups, I have been wracking my brain on how to survive the next fortnight when logically the amount is not enough at all to pay my bills. I remember the days when I was at Citibank in Jakarta when I analysed customers who were delinquent with their credit card payments – during those years, I was a full-payment sort of transactors who took advantage of the bank’s interest-free period. These days, like any struggling families across the world, I considered paying the interest as a part of life. 🙂 I have even thought about offloading more stuff onto eBay – well, desperate times call for desperate measures! 🙂
Then today, I received a missed call on my phone from my third sister. I called her back using Skype – she mentioned that Mum managed to find somebody to would continue to lease her land in her hometown. She said that Mum wanted to share the fund to all of the children, so she asked for my bank details. The amount would certainly allow me to pay my bills and to breathe easier – and focus more on work rather than worrying about my expenses. The amount is probably nothing to some of you, but when you only have $4.31 left in your account, any amount is a massive gift. 🙂
I was left relieved, humbled and embarrassed – as a Christian of 21 years, God still manages to teach me about the full reliance on Him. I know I think and worry too much sometimes. Heck, thinking is my daily routine now, being a postgraduate student! 🙂 The old gem from Matthew 6:25-34 speaks to me:
“That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn’t life more than food, and your body more than clothing? Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are? Can all your worries add a single moment to your life? “And why worry about your clothing? Look at the lilies of the field and how they grow. They don’t work or make their clothing, yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are. And if God cares so wonderfully for wildflowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith?
“So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’ These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.
“So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.
Of course some of you may think that God has nothing to do with Mum wanting to send some money my way – and through “luck” or “coincidence”, it just happens to be. I personally don’t believe in luck or coincidence, I prefer to think that I am well-loved and well-taken care of every day of my life – even when I am a worrywart. 🙂 Throughout my years whether I was climbing the corporate ladder or when I was scouring the house for any loose change, I have never starved. He provides at the right time.