DORA, Ala. (BP)--Bob Dylan sang it many years ago, and it's still true today: "The times, they are a-changin." In barely two years, gas prices have more than doubled. Costs for diesel fuel have surpassed gasoline, and the result is a snowball effect that is sending our incomes into a downward spiral of lower and lower spending power. What's a believer to do?

Trust God. Or as He Himself told us, "[D]on't worry about your life, what you will eat; or about the body, what you will wear.... Can any of you add a cubit to his height by worrying? If then you're not able to do even a little thing, why worry about the rest?" (Luke 12:22b, 25-26).
Really, why do we worry? We can't control the weather; God does. We can't control the seasons; God does. When it comes right down to it, there are a very limited number of things over which we have any control whatsoever, and even in those areas, our first and foremost priority as believers in Christ Jesus is still the same mandate: Trust God.

Proverbs 3:5 reminds us: "Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not rely on your own understanding." Does that mean that we're to plod through these tough times with no financial plan of action because we're simply to "trust in the Lord"? Of course not. The teaching of Proverbs 3:5 continues in Verse 6: "Think about Him in all your ways, and He will guide you on the right paths."

Folks, the only person who needs a guide is someone who's going somewhere! I don't know about you, but I plan to get on with my life and His Commission despite the downturn in the economy and despite any other setbacks that may come my way.

In the early 1980s my husband, Larry, found himself without a job. For two years we had no steady income. And it was during those two years that my penny-pinching savvy was honed like never before; so I can truthfully say that I'd not be where or who I am today were it not for the lessons learned during that tough stretch.

But not only did we learn a lot of new "survival" skills, we learned how awesome our Heavenly Father was and is at providing for our needs. Time and again, we received just what we needed just when we needed it. Of course, we did our part to bring in an income. In addition to selling real estate, I cleaned houses, did yard work, a little substitute teaching, and countless other odd jobs, all while trying to remain as much of a stay-at-home mom as possible. Larry found a couple of long-term temporary jobs and joined me in a lot of the odd job opportunities.

Yet sometimes it still wasn't enough. I recall that on more than one occasion, we prayed fervently for a way to earn enough money to buy groceries. Once, I was still in mid-prayer when the doorbell rang and a couple from our church stood smiling in the doorway. "We hope you won't be offended," our friend, Cheryl said, "but Daniel works for a grocery wholesaler and the company let us have all of the damaged goods in this week's shipment."

Offended? I was elated! We quickly emptied their burgeoning pickup, stacking the less-than-perfect cans and boxes into our empty pantry and together thanking the Lord for His amazing love and perfect timing.

Once, on my birthday, another friend, Helen, phoned. "I didn't know what to get you for your birthday, so I bought you groceries. I hope you don't mind." I can still remember lifting that truly heavenly turkey breast out of the grocery bag and weeping with happiness.

Then there was the time we found a refund check in our mailbox. Our insurance company had discovered that we'd been charged too high a rate for the whole past year.

People of God, tough times are no reason to worry. They're a time to get excited about the new and miraculous ways you're going to see the Lord take care of you. Do your part to be a responsible manager of His blessings: Continue to tithe, cut back unnecessary spending, and make whatever other changes may be needed to reduce your regular expenses. But most of all, trust Him, and joyfully expect your Heavenly Father to take good care of you, His precious son or daughter.


Judy Woodward Bates is a freelance writer, author, speaker and creator of Bargainomics, a Bible-based time and money management philosophy, and the author of the new book, "Blessedly Budgeted Women's Events." Visit her website at www.bargainomics.com.

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