Living on a fixed income?
Bringing a spiritual perspective to daily life
My apartment is warm, cozy, and safe. There's food in my pantry, and I have a job and regular paycheck.
Yet almost weekly, I hear financial experts on TV claim that many people won't have enough of a nest egg for retirement. That Social Security might not remain solvent. So, as I balance my checkbook, I sometimes catch myself wondering, "Is security for retirement beyond my reach?"
Whenever I'm faced with a problem - something that scares me, or that threatens my community - I turn to God in prayer. And that's how I'm becoming convinced that each of us has a higher source of security than our financial assets. It's our indestructible relationship with God.
Regardless of your financial picture, you have a lasting source of provision. It's the one Jesus was referring to when he said, "Lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal" (Matt. 6:20). I like to think of my treasure as my relationship to God as His daughter. Understanding that you are completely cared for by God brings confidence and security. God's outpouring of good isn't limited. Glimpse this fact, and your thought will open to see your Father-Mother's care in very real ways.
I've seen God's power to meet my needs - in spite of limited resources. I went through a period when I wasn't physically well enough to hold down a regular job. My only income, from a government program, was very small. Paying rent on one small room left me with little money, even for food. With that fixed income and those fixed costs, there was simply no way to stretch my money any further. Struggling with this lack of means, I began to feel less lovable, less deserving, than other people. Sometimes I even doubted if God really needed me.
Nothing could have been further from the truth! In a book I had begun reading, there is a paragraph summed up this way: "Inexhaustible divine Love." The author, Mary Baker Eddy, wrote there: "It is not well to imagine that Jesus demonstrated the divine power to heal only for a select number or for a limited period of time, since to all mankind and in every hour, divine Love supplies all good" ("Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," pg. 494). And the Bible assured me, "The eternal God is thy refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms" (Deut. 33:27).
I began to think of God - and not my monthly check - as my safety net. As the source of all good, of everything I truly needed. Gradually, I began to glimpse that since I was God's perfect expression, His love for me (and everyone) had to be forever. We're each rich in God's qualities, such as love, intelligence, courage, and joy. Because of this, no one is ever worthless, or ever devalued by age or circumstance. God needs each of us; we're invaluable, irreplaceable. We can't be simply passive recipients of fixed incomes - God hasn't allowed for it. We are worthy to receive the outpouring of God's love - God has mandated it.
When I woke up each day, I tried to thank God for having already met my needs, and for enabling me to express love. This type of prayer may seem strange, since at first I was praying on an empty stomach. But I found encouragement in the examples of biblical people, such as Elisha and Jesus, who thanked God for His goodness even before they had any proof that their prayers would be answered. I, too, began to trust God rather than worry about what my prospects looked like. As I did this, I saw ways to share the riches I had - the qualities God was expressing in me. For example, I could help a neighbor with errands, or keep children happy while their parents were doing other things.
Day by day, my needs were supplied. Often this happened in unexpected ways. People who didn't know I was struggling offered jobs I could easily do. Friends would invite me for a meal. I was learning and seeing that my income wasn't fixed. The following year, I received college tuition in an unusual way, and began an academic career.
So, as I think about retirement, I realize that I don't have to accept insecurity as inevitable, or spend my life in fear of lacking. God cares for us always. God's love is the source of all we need. This love can't ever run dry.