Prior to teaching on the subject of trust I drove past the billboard for our state lottery. On the billboard was an update of the potential winnings for the week. The number was a staggering amount: $300 million. As I read the number I felt the Lord question me, “Would you rather have $300 million in cash or trust Me to provide for your needs?” I took a few moments to prayerfully process the question. “Lord, are you asking me an either/or question? Either I have the $300 million and I no longer have You as my provider; or I have You as my provider but no $300 million?” Yeah, that’s what He was asking. (By the way did you know that 95% of lottery winners are worse off financially 3 years after winning than before? And they are twice as likely to file bankruptcy as the average person.)
As I said earlier, trusting God as my provider, especially in the area of finances, has been a strength since I first became a follower of Jesus. (I’ll tell you why in the next chapter.) But in that moment I paused and thought, “Three hundred million dollars is a lot of money.” I’m not great at math, but I quickly did the figures in my head of how much I could spend every year of my life and still have plenty of money until the day I die. My mind began to think “no worries” for the rest of my life. I considered all the good I could do for God’s kingdom, for my family, for our community and even for other churches and pastors. Then I was suddenly shaken from my thoughts; I realized I was considering a potential trade-in of God as my provider for money in the bank. It horrified me that I had even considered the thought. And even worse, the gap of time between getting the question and arriving at a solid answer defined my level of trust in God as my provider. It was only a few moments, a few miles of driving. But to think I would be tempted to even consider the thought revealed something in me that God wanted to work on. It was a test of this principle of living with “Open hands…Open heart” to God and God alone.
At this moment you may respond as I did when you consider the question: “Trust God as my provider or $300 million in the bank?” You may even justify it as I did, “Lord I wouldn’t have to bother You the rest of my life; You could spend Your time and energy and resources helping other people and I would help You help those people with all the money I have.” Seeing the gap between the question and the answer disturbed me a great deal, because as a follower of Jesus I want to be all in. Jesus said this in Matthew 6:24: “No one can serve two masters. For you hate the one and love the other; or you will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.” It’s either one or the other, not both.