One of the formational stories of my young life was the summer I spent washing cars and mowing lawns to save money for a 10-speed bike. I still had the bike of my early childhood, a Schwinn Stingray, and it had started to seem like a kid’s bike to my 12-year-old self. I gazed at the 10-speed bikes in the Sears catalog and dreamt of having one of my own. On Saturdays, I would go door to door in our neighborhood, offering to wash cars or mow lawns. Every penny went into saving for the bike. I was completely focused on that bike.
For years, I have looked back on this story as a positive example of setting a goal and working to achieve it. I was willing to forego going to the movies or buying candy or whatever else I might have spent my money on. I overcame my shyness to knock on neighbor’s doors, both friends and strangers, looking for work.
It was only as I wrote my sermon for this Sunday that I realized that I have been replaying the 10-speed bike story for most of my adult life. The “Our Money Story” stewardship program invites us to remember our own money story alongside God’s money story. As I did so, I saw that an innocent and healthy project for a 12-year-old had become a pattern of seeking happiness by buying more and more fancy toys for myself. The 10-speed bike became an idol for the false hope that buying something new would finally bring satisfaction.
This week, the “Our Money Story” program invites us to release those things that separate us from God’s justice, mercy and love. That might be shame, anxiety, guilt or greed. We may need release from stories that are older than we are; generational stories about scarcity or even privilege. The invitation is to remember our money story and release the parts of that story that do not fit with God’s money story.
For me, that means trusting in God rather than seeking satisfaction from possessions. I can hold onto the positive aspects of that story while letting go of the false promise of happiness from things. What do you need to release to trust in God?