THE BIBLE IS NOT A MAGIC WAND
By Valerie Donati
The Bible is not a magic wand, a disappointing if not liberating truth that I’ve discovered in recent years. Disappointing because wouldn’t a magic wand make life a lot easier? Liberating because it takes some of the pressure off. When I first came back to my faith almost 20 years ago my first act was to believe for a change in my finances, which were in a dismal state. I was consistently living beyond my means, I never paid my bills on time, I had no vision for how I was ever going to get out of an increasingly dangerous downward spiral aside from “hitting it rich,” which I desperately hoped would happen (I was writing the next bestselling novel after all, wasn’t I?) I finally started tithing for the first time when I hit an all-time low (I had just been fired from my job, got diagnosed with a pre-cancerous condition and my mentor died unexpectedly). I didn’t have the money to tithe—there is never a good time, by the way. But as I stepped out in faith that God would help me if I believed He would, coupled with action, my financial situation turned around, in dramatic fashion. Within 10 years I went from earning $20,000 to over $300,000 a year with potential for much, much more.
During that time I transitioned from being an employee to running my own business—a fifteen-year process. Before I launched my company I got a scripture from the Book of Job that assured me, among other things, that God would “make a covenant with the stones of the field on my behalf.” In other words, God would overcome all obstacles. When the GFC hit I was already down $250,000 from financial mismanagement within my company and then I watched as over $1M was slowly eaten away as clients canceled deals. I had been tithing above 10 percent, giving in the hundreds of thousands and serving in church. I had always relied on what the scripture said about “pressed down, shaken and flowing over…” I was experiencing the opposite of this phenomenon, and I had been so faithful. I couldn’t figure out what I had done wrong. It was an extremely sobering experience, very scary for me since I didn’t have a financial backup. I reminded myself that the Bible said if you have faith the size of a mustard seed you could say to the mountain, be cast into the sea. My mountain was my growing business debt. During those days I began to realize that having even that much faith is a challenge.
It’s here that I go back to my love of the Old Testament prophets. In Hebrews 11 we find these men toiling away for God and all kinds of nasty things happen to them anyway, including being sawed in half. After all their sacrifice they had not reached their promised land, far from it. They had faith, if anyone did. Faith in God, faith in what He had promised them and the people of Israel. Some did ok like Abraham, some not so much, like John the Baptist. Their faith could have seemed lost along the way, but they didn’t give up.
So, no, these days I don’t use the Bible as a magic wand. But that doesn’t mean I don’t think the Word of God (Jesus) can’t cover and heal our problems, because I do believe that, wholeheartedly. In my case, my company didn’t suddenly pop out of debt, but as He said He would do, I have been protected from ruin and we are solidly making our way back. The issue isn’t the Bible, the challenge is our understanding of both the Word and the life we receive when we believe. If you see each day as a gift, if you see the people around you as brothers and sisters doing the best they can to keep going, if you see a mouthful of water as a beautiful thing, an embrace as a treasure, you’ll see God. And when you remember what He was willing to do for you, and that you have a home waiting for you, the biggest problems start to become a little bit smaller. In other words, our perspective changes. We have not been left alone, His Word (Jesus) is here to comfort us. In a world of freewill bad things do happen, but God is still good. The Word may not “act” like a magic wand, but it promises so much more than simply making “everything go our way.” The Word promises us life. Remember… “Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust also in me. There is more than enough room in my Father’s home. If this were not so, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you?” Amen.