“How could you lose $10,000?! Where did it all go?!” Bill and Holly walked into my office one winter day looking tense at the thought of revealing their financial situation to a stranger. Bill made an appointment with me to start financial planning for his growing family. As I looked into their finances, I noticed that Holly started to get nervous and look away from me.
In the process of discovery, I found a few things that didn’t square up on their spreadsheet. We reviewed the numbers over and over again trying to understand the gap I was seeing. I asked them if there was any other income that may have been missing from their information… There was obviously $10,000 spent over and above their household income. Slowly, the light bulb came into Bill’s eyes and Holly began to cry. Amidst incredulity, accusations and tears, the couple stood up and awkwardly made a decision not to pursue financial help at this time. Unfortunately, I never saw them again.
What is Financial Freedom?
What is financial freedom and why should Bill and Holly even want it? As a financial planner, the first question I’d ask my clients was what their goals and their long-term desires were. Many people would answer that they wanted to be financially independent. That was a popular response. They wanted to have enough money available in their bank accounts, in their investment properties or other accounts, so they did not have to depend upon their job, other people or even the government. To most people, that sounds like a great goal. However, few people ever really achieve it. Why not? It’s simple… Because life happens, and people aren’t perfect.
See if this story sounds familiar to you.
There once was a tall handsome younger son whose father was extremely rich. He grew up with a doting mother and very respectable and responsible older brother who was being groomed to take over the family ranching business. This younger son had everything he wanted under his father’s roof, but this usually came with rules and curfews and servants watching his every move. He longed not to care about what people thought and to do his own thing and make his own way out from under the stiff shade of his well-known family name.
Then one day, as the usual sibling abuse heated up over barely nothing, he and his brother’s fighting words came to blows, and he was done. The youngest son stormed into his father’s study and demanded that he be given his inheritance now! He knew his father had quite the savings account set up for him, but he didn’t want to wait a few more months until he was legally able to sign for it… he wanted it right now! After listening to the bullying and bickering between the brothers for years, the heart-broken old man gave in and yielded his portion of wealth to his beautiful boy. And off he went with the slamming of a door.
Motives are Important
You will recognize elements in this narrative as Jesus’ parable of the Prodigal Son. (Luke 15:11-32). If you read to the end of the story, there you will see the father’s extravagant love for his wayward son. In every area of life, no matter how you begin in your finances, the pathway to complete freedom and enjoyment is possible. For this son, however, he had a reason for wanting the money, but did not have a purpose for it outside of himself. He wanted to be independent of responsibilities and to do his own thing, but that is a pit from which no amount of money can ever fill or satisfy. When you don’t tie your money to a good purpose, it becomes like a kite without a string.
Consider 95-year-old Edward, a widower who came into my office one day with a problem… one I’m sure we all may wish we had. He had several homes, expensive cars, and lucrative investments, and was still enjoying downhill skiing and boating. As a world traveler who loved his scotch and cigars, he was the very image of old worldly success. But when he came into our firm, I saw a prune-faced man with glazed over eyes. His biggest problem in life was an enormous amount of money that he could only see how to spend on himself. And he was now faced with a decision of how to dispose of his wealth before he dies.
I remember once attending a funeral and overheard someone ask about the rich man in the casket, “I wonder how much he left?” In my mind, the answer was clearly, “All of it!” You can’t take any of your money with you when you die and leave this earth. My husband likes to say humorously, “Have you ever seen a U-Haul following a hurst?!” Of course, the answer is, No.
When I think of Edward now, Luke 12:20-21 comes to mind… “God said to him, ‘What a fool you are to trust in your riches and not in me. This very night the messengers of death are demanding to take your life. Then who will get all the wealth you have stored up for yourself?’ This is what will happen to all those who fill up their lives with everything but God.” (The Passion Translation)
But what if Edward had a purpose for his wealth besides himself? How might that have affected his life and even his influence in this world?
What is the Purpose for Your Finances?
Stop and ask yourself, “What is the purpose for my life and finances?” After meeting an Edward in your life, perhaps you would say, my family is the most important thing in life, or my health is more vital than money. However, let’s explore another vantage point for how to view wealth, and even your life’s value and purpose in this earth.
What images move you to tears? What angers you and begs for justice? Is it to abolish human trafficking, or to provide clean water to third-world countries, or to create inventions to help heal the earth? These are noble but some pretty big problems to solve. Or maybe it is just to start your own business (finally!), or to send your kids to a really good school, or perhaps to fix the washing machine that nags the living daylights out of you each time you use it!
Big or small, world-wide or in your own home, what is the one thing that appears to be lacking which could solve all of these problems? MONEY, right? This is the answer that most people would give. But, if I may tell you the truth, there are actually two things missing: Money and a wise spiritually strong forward-thinking YOU!
Let’s Use Our Imagination a Little
What if, when you read the story of the prodigal son, you did not automatically think that God was speaking directly to you? …That you could relate so closely to one of the two brothers, as so many do? What if God wanted you to think of yourself like the father who restored the younger son back to a place of wealth and position, and who enlightened the older son that all of his rich belongings were his eldest’ to enjoy all along?
Now, imagine what you would do if you could personally in one day serve breakfast to 35 orphan girls in Guatemala; and at the same time, pay for a single mom’s opportunity to take nursing courses to better her life in Wyoming; while also flipping the switch on the auditorium lights for a pastor and his wife to preach the gospel to the locals in Belize. How could you do this as just one person? You couldn’t. However, if you were like Edward, you could use your surplus money, and partner with God to accomplish great things like these and so much more while never leaving your hometown.
The Keys to Being Financially Free
Here’s what I believe was missing from Edward’s life and even from the prodigal son’s life and three things that we’ll talk about in my Financial Freedom class (coming soon):
- A purpose for wealth
- The freedom to make a difference in the world
- The reward that comes from partnering with God
In Deuteronomy 8:18, we read a well-known verse in the Amplified Bible, “But you shall remember [with profound respect] the Lord your God, for it is He who is giving you power to make wealth, that He may confirm His covenant which He swore (solemnly promised) to your fathers, as it is this day.” When we are born again and become part of God’s family, we enter into an eternal relationship with the God of the universe, Who has vast and intricate purposes in mind for bringing His covenant blessings to every man, woman and child in the world. John 3:16-17 is at the core of His heart. Let it be the heartbeat of our lives as well, and let’s see what God will do!
Financial Freedom Starts in Your Heart
There is another type of financial freedom that is available to everyone, even to those who live in Communist countries and to those who live in jungles without shoes. The Holy Spirit and the Word of God are our best teachers for seeing from a different vantage point how to prosper in this earth, no matter how we start out.
Miracles and multiplication were always on tap for Jesus. He provided power to His disciples who basically turned the world upside down, and He is eager to do the same for you and through you. “For we are God’s [own] handiwork (His workmanship), recreated in Christ Jesus, [born anew] that we may do those good works which God predestined (planned beforehand) for us [taking paths which He prepared ahead of time], that we should walk in them [living the good life which He prearranged and made ready for us to live].” (Eph 2:10 AMPC)
Key Point to Remember: The financial freedom I am talking about does not begin where you think it does – in your bank account or from your job or with your higher education – it begins in your heart.
It is in your heart where God dwells, where the kingdom of God has come to live powerfully. He has made a Covenant with you, a promise made backed by heaven itself, to give you access to His kingdom’s great wisdom and strength and skill. And like a buried treasure, you must take the map or key, which is the Word of God, and search out all that you are and all that you have, because it is GREAT! “Never doubt God’s mighty power to work in you and accomplish all this. He will achieve infinitely more than your greatest request, your most unbelievable dream, and exceed your wildest imagination! He will outdo them all, for his miraculous power constantly energizes you.” (Ephesians 3:20 TPT) Wow
Are You Ready?
Walk with me past dusty roads of selfish desires and through treacherous forests of fear and dark valleys of ignorance, and let’s come out together into heaven’s wide-open spaces of bountiful living. Let’s work toward the goal of building something great that will last for all of eternity!
Are you prepared to participate in this adventure with the Lord into financial freedom? Are you ready to say with Paul, “… I keep going on, grasping ever more firmly that purpose for which Christ grasped me. My brothers, I do not consider myself to have fully grasped it even now. But I do concentrate on this: I leave the past behind and with hands outstretched to whatever lies ahead I go straight for the goal – my reward the honor of being called by God in Christ.” (Phil. 3:12-14 J.B. Phillips New Testament)
Would you like more? Check out the videos for my masterclass, here – Financial Freedom Through the Word of God.
You can also get my free download on Financial Freedom here.