An Ancient Pathway to Joy
by Steve Trullinger
There is an ancient pathway to joy that awaits every believer!
Abba desires our obedience because he loves us beyond measure. He encourages us to trust him and reap wonderful benefits as a result. His desire is that we have joy that stems from childlike faith that, in turn, enables us to trust and obey him. Even when we don’t understand how that obedience could possibly lead to a good result, we certainly can rely on his unchanging character and ability.
Obedience, trust and joy are strongly linked, even interwoven. They can be regarded in a sense as forming a 3-stranded “cord” that ties our hearts to his. I learned this in my second year as a believer, in a dramatic fashion!
During my first 18 months of learning how to walk with Jesus, I struggled with the issue of tithing. I started out giving 1% or 2% of my income and then I forced myself to give 5% the next month. But then I was short of funds to make ends meet the following month and reverted back to giving 1 or 2 percent of my income. I went up and down this sort of cycle a few times until I grew more trusting of my Abba.
As a university professor I opted to receive my academic 9-month salary in 12 equal monthly installments each year. In addition, I was allowed to receive two months of salary during the summer recess as I conducted physics research funded by grants from government agencies. This extra two-months income in the summer was like “gravy” that enabled me to pay for family vacations, pay off bills that had accumulated during the year, etc.
So, during that second summer in my Christian walk I made a somewhat easy choice to tithe the full 10% in June and July. Why not? I had “extra” income those two months. It felt good to finally be “obedient” (in my mind). But then August came and my paycheck at the end of the month was back to its much lower 1/12th amount. Now the test was staring me in the face, so to speak. Would I be truly obedient and still give the full 10% tithe, or would I revert to succumbing to fear of lack by giving much less so I could pay the bills?
I decided that I should trust God in simple obedience and just see what happens. So, I gave 10% to the church, paid rent and some other essential bills, and found myself with only $3 in my bank account and about four weeks to go until my next paycheck. That was crazy, by worldly standards.
That week I had to travel on Friday to the university to make arrangements for my upcoming teaching duties for the Fall term starting the next week. As I was driving along the freeway to the campus, I thought about how I was trusting God to meet my urgent needs, with only $3 in my account and just enough gas in my car to make one more trip to the campus on Monday. An amazing joy began to flood my soul and I started singing in my car and shouting out praises to God! I experienced the feeling of having no worry whatsoever! I had true freedom from any concern for my provision, because I trusted my Abba.
When I arrived at my office on campus I saw that I had a message on my answering machine and pushed the play button. The department chairman had left me a message earlier in the day that said this: “Steve, we just received word from the Dean’s office that, because you agreed at the last minute to teach the extra course we asked you to consider, the Dean wants to give you an extra ½-month’s salary! You can pick up the check on Monday.” Hallelujah! Abba had already taken care of my needs while I was filled with joy simply from trusting him in obedience. Wow!
That weekend I let the lesson sink in. I made a commitment to never worry about provision again, and even as I occasionally encountered “sketchy” financial outlooks I have always tithed every month in the subsequent decades, reveling in the joy of obedience born of trust, and I have never lacked the basic necessities (see Matthew 6:25-34).
Abba has proven faithful as I have walked this ancient pathway to joy! There is room on this pathway for all those who dare to believe!
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