Friday, February 29, 2008

Dethroning VISA

Have you seen Fight Club? If not, I'm sorry, I'm about to ruin the ending for you!

The movie centres around one man's existential angst. He is seeking salvation from the doldrums of working for an insurance company so he can service his credit card debt, which has been racked up by having to have everything in his apartment "Ikea perfect". He meets an enigmatic stranger and finds salvation in this "Fight Club" scenario, which basically is about a bunch of blokes getting together and rediscovering what "makes them men" (aka beating the living daylights out of each other). The fight club concept grows and groups form all over the US. At the end of the movie, the fight clubs have formed a quasi-urban-guerilla-terrorist movement, and they seek to bring salvation to the US, by unseating the culprit behind the humdrum of life - slavery to the Credit Card companies. The final scene of the movie is where you see all the credit card companies simultaneously blowing up across the skyline.

This is a rather graphic illustration of what happened in my life when Jesus saved me. Up until that point I was in the grip of 'Visa' with an unsustainable debt. I placed a lot of faith in Visa, and regularly gave offerings (interest) of $150 a month to keep the religion going. I believed that "in case of emergency" Visa would bail me out, Visa would save me. But in the day-to-day Visa was just a comfort, and a way to participate in worship of the other gods of the secular world, "at no cost".

The bible says that we are the temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor 6:19). In the greek there are two words for temple, and the one used in this context more particularly means "Holy of Holies". The Holy of Holies was where in the OT, the ark of the covenant was housed. The ark represented God's presence amongst His people - now this function is taken over by the Holy Spirit's indwelling of His people. No one went inside the Holy of Holies, except the High Priest once a year. Now there is a story in 1 Samuel 5 about an encounter between the Philistine god "Dagon" and the Ark of the Covenant, verses 1-4 are awesome:

"After the Philistines had captured the ark of God, they took it from Ebenezer to Ashdod. Then they carried the ark into Dagon's temple and set it beside Dagon. When the people of Ashdod rose early the next day, there was Dagon, fallen on his face on the ground before the ark of the LORD! They took Dagon and put him back in his place. But the following morning when they rose, there was Dagon, fallen on his face on the ground before the ark of the LORD! His head and hands had been broken off and were lying on the threshold; only his body remained."

This is what happened when God moved into my life, and the Holy Spirit took up residence in me. All the old idols started falling on their faces before Him! One particular idol that God took care of was 'Visa'. At this point it was going to take me about 3 years to pay off the debt that I had accumulated, because I was living beyond my means, and if I did manage to pay it off in 3 years that would be without saving ANYTHING, but living pay cheque to pay cheque.

God challenged me on where I was putting my faith and my trust. "'In case of emergency', who are you going to trust to look after you? Visa? Or me?"

The Lord showed Himself faithful and gracious. This was "an emergency" or at very least a very, very nasty spot to be in. I felt so imprisoned, knowing that for the next 3 years I would be a slave until I paid off my debt. However, the Lord delivered me of that debt, I was given a lump sum of the exact amount I was in debt. So I paid it off and cut up my credit card. Since then whenever there have been "emergencies" or tight spots, He has NEVER failed to provide. In addition to that first lump sum which paid off my credit card, He has miraculously produced lump sums of money when I needed them four or five times. Additionally, before starting at Bible College, He provided a part-time IT contract role that was only supposed to last 3 months, and I have now been here nearly 2 yrs! This job just doesn't exist, He put it here for me. He has also used my lovely boyfriend to prompt me and teach me how to better manage what I have. He has also taught me to be content with what I have, because I know He is good and provides for me, however much He provides - despite what I may think - is enough to meet my needs.

God has ALWAYS been faithful to provide for me, when I have been financially responsible and when I have been financially irresponsible. This is not to say that I have been able to afford to buy everything that I WANT, but I have NEVER gone hungry, I have NEVER lacked what I needed. And this has been such a beautiful and constant reminder of the goodness and faithfulness of God.

I can testify that Luke 12:22-24, 27-31 is true:

"Then Jesus said to his disciples: 'Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. Life is more than food, and the body more than clothes. Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds! ...Consider how the lilies grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today, and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, how much more will he clothe you, O you of little faith! And do not set your heart on what you will eat or drink; do not worry about it. For the pagan world runs after all such things, and your Father knows that you need them. But seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well."

We quite simply do not need to worry about these things, God will provide, because He is good, and He is our Father, and He has promised to look after us, and delights to give good gifts to His children. We just need to focus on seeking His kingdom & His righteousness.

So that is how 'Visa' was dethroned in my life. Christ set me free.

God bless,

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