Have you ever lived paycheck-to-paycheck? Contrary to what anyone may have told you, an author has to sell an astronomical amount of books to ever make any money. My average month from book sales is around $35. I’d gladly show you the Amazon receipts. And I promise you, that pay doesn’t come close to balancing out the time I spend at the keyboard.
But I write because I love it. I write to connect with you. To spread the message of messy grace, to fight the stigma of mental illness in the church and society at-large, and to give people hope. Sure, I’d love my writing to actually pay my bills, but it hasn’t for the past 10 years, and yet I find myself right back here, in this seat, telling another story.
Last week, I checked my bank account and we were down to $26. That’s right. Twenty-six bucks to last a family of four a whole week. Sadly, that’s the place we find ourselves about one week out of every month. And we don’t live an extravagant life. Lindsey and I live in a 30-year-old, 2 bedroom townhouse, and both drive cars that are more than twenty years old. We don’t have any kind of lavish lifestyle. But we do have bills and student loans, and two little ragamuffins, whom we love with all our hearts.
It takes a lot of money to live these days.
I was stressed all weekend over the fact that we only had $26 to last us another week. I knew we’d have to choose again: gas or groceries? And then on Sunday I decided to check the PO Box. To my surprise, there was a check for $100 from someone I love.
It’s not a guarantee. It’s not an expectation. It’s not promised. But it has shown up regularly for several months now.
I breathed a sigh of relief. We could get some groceries and some gas. And I could give Lindsey a positive story, instead of confessing that the money had run out before the month….again.
I’ve been talking about heavy stuff lately. Theology and questions. Faith and doubts. I’ve been demanding answers from Jesus that I didn’t have the guts to utter 15 years ago. And I’m tired, friends. Dog tired. I’m tired of fighting. I’m tired of arguing. I’m tired of wrestling. I’m tired of wondering if I’m even “saved” any more.
Whatever that means.
Then again, $100 in my PO Box let’s me know I’m saved. Salvation comes for my family when I can feed my children and have enough money to get to work. I don’t know what the afterlife will be. I have no idea if the rapture is real or if Jesus is the only way to God. But my kids aren’t concerned with those things, as long as the crackers and apple juice don’t run out.
I think the same was true in Jesus’ day, too. Blind Bartimaeus didn’t care if Jesus was the Christ, or just a Rabbi with special powers. He just knew that one day, he was blind, and now he could see. The woman at the well didn’t sit with Jesus and debate the prophecies of Isaiah or get into a discussion over a pre, post, or mid-trib rapture. She just knew this man had told her everything she’d ever done wrong and was still compassionate enough to offer her Living Water.
These days, I don’t have all the answers. In fact, I am less certain about matters of faith today than I’ve ever been, but I’m still thankful for gas, groceries, and grace.
Steve Austin is an author, speaker, and life coach who is passionate about helping overwhelmed people learn to catch their breath. He is the author of two Amazon bestsellers, "Catching Your Breath," and "From Pastor to a Psych Ward." Steve lives with his wife and two children in Birmingham, Alabama.
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