Faculty Wife | Part 4

by Elouise

1969 Fall Monticello Rd.cropped

Fall 1969. Most of our first year back at the Bible College is a blur of activity and pregnancy. Our second child is on its way, and the clock is ticking down fast! We’re renting a house, thanks to a friend who hopes we’ll rent it the entire academic year.

D has new lectures to prepare every time he turns around. Our new son’s energy increases to warp speed. I have morning sickness for the first three months of pregnancy, and enjoy having Diane (Sister #3) hanging out with us. She took the photo above.

Then we start thinking. What if we had a house of our own and could move in well before our second child arrives? We start looking. We find it! Our friend isn’t happy when we tell him we’ll be moving out right after Christmas.

The house is brand new, in a growing subdivision where we know at least one of the families. Small, almost boxy, all on one floor, simple layout with lots of kitchen, dining and living room space for having guests over, and enough bedrooms for our growing family.

I have my usual doubts and fear about money running out or not being there at the end of the month. How do we know we can pay for it? And won’t we have to buy a lot of furniture? Indeed, we will.

Oh, one more thing. What will people think about us? Spending all this money? It seems I have fear about not having enough, and shame about having too much. Both are familiar old feelings from way back.

Part of me is excited about the new house. The other part feels guilty and even ashamed. I never felt guilt or shame when we lived in Mr. Griswold’s house. That was different. We weren’t paying for it. But now we’re using our hard-earned money to buy a house and brand new furniture?

When we were students at the Bible College, if you didn’t have a lot of money and lived by faith, you would surely be admired. In fact, asking people to pray that I’ll have enough money to buy a bar of soap was better than having too much money.

On the other hand, being well-off enough to afford a house could be dangerous to my spiritual health. That was the Bible College way. Am I trusting in God or trusting in money? Am I living by faith or living by my own earthly means?

When I was growing up, George Mueller’s example was often referred to and spoken of with great reverence. Here was a man of true faith—no income, an orphanage with children to feed every day, and nothing but prayer as the way to go. Mueller prayed, and food showed up when and as needed. Here’s a link to a children’s version of his story. Very interesting.

I didn’t get this way about money all by myself, you know. The mission organization with which my parents served for 15 years didn’t allow its members to have steady jobs or regular incomes from regular employment. Love offerings and honoraria were fine, but nothing was to take the place of living by faith.

This was also the theme of the Bible College. Living by faith was part of what they called “victorious Christian living.”  The institution was funded through prayers and the unexpected gifts that ensued. This was better than the world’s way of depending on steady income instead of faith in God. Hence, too, the faculty allowance system instead of a guaranteed paycheck.

So signs that we might have more money than is absolutely necessary were still shameful to me. That included seemingly small things like trinkets that weren’t purchased for any practical use, or store-bought clothes (instead of altered hand-me-downs or home-made clothes).

And then there was that investment thing. Buying a house might be a wise investment. But to at least some, this was treading a fine line. Investment might be another form of gambling. Definitely not a sign of living by faith.

To be continued….

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 4 August 2015
Photo credit: DRenich, Fall 1969