Could I do this?

Tom Hsieh could be living the American dream. An immigrant from Taiwan, he worked hard in school, got into a good college and today heads an L.A.-based telecommunications consulting firm. His annual pay: $200,000.

So where’s the big house and fancy car? “We could have that lifestyle,” Hsieh says. “But it’s not real.” What’s real, for Hsieh, is his deep faith and desire to help others. So Hsieh, 36, wife Bree, 31, and 13-month-old daughter Kadence live on a modest $38,000 a year.

Why not? Well, alright, so my income will be lower than that. But that doesn’t mean my income will not be a great deal higher than that of many people. I’ll just say it: I’m “the rich”, rich both in God’s grace and in, well, money, even if I don’t think so sometimes. The $55,000 fake budget I made looked pretty tight. Maybe even in the Bay Area this could be further reduced.

So I already was putting in figures for rent and not mortgage (at current rates), cheap car and not luxury car, San Leandro and not Orinda, things like that. But I don’t know. Alameda County’s 2005 median family income was $74,662 (Source: kidsdata.org). I’d be making less than that. Could I really keep reducing?

There are, after all, more things to consider. I could spend less on myself, and I could even trust God to provide a wife who would choose to live that way for the sake of the kingdom. But there’s the aspect of kids’ education (not just schooling), education that goes far beyond what a public school would ever do, ever attempt, ever recognize as a positive good, one that strengthens love for God and faith in Him and instils virtue and temperance, one that challenges the student to the utmost exertion of his God-given gifts.

That could mean single income, more than one kid and homeschooling, for quite a number of years. Could I still make it, when taxes and need-based scholarships are the way they are now? Could I trust God to provide even for that? And what is the line between trusting God and being irresponsible?

For it’s a lie that you’d get the same undergraduate education at, say, the University of Chicago and UC Santa Cruz. I don’t doubt that nearly all universities have many underused resources, but when chances are high that your kids could successfully graduate from MIT and be used by God in that way – I wouldn’t want to deny that to God and to them. And no, education is not for the job or the money, although those tend to be side benefits.

(God-willing) Professor Tsang, you’re a blind beggar no matter what, and all that you have ever had, all you have now and all you will ever have is not yours but given for the service of the Lord whose grace furnished you with so many things. When will you fix your eyes on Jesus and, even knowing of the winds and the waves, scorn their power in the face of God’s glorious and omnipotent faithfulness?


6 responses to “YHWH-Yireh

  1. Bro, thanks for sharing this. I pray that we’d have enough trust to be willing to move forward like this.


  2. Wow, I can’t believe that I stumbled across a bunch of very smart young people who are also Christians! I noticed Galoisien’s contributions in a French-English dictionary forum and became very curious as to the source of the wisdom of his very young years. I followed the links and found your blog as well. This is so encouraging because I am currently living in Europe and the oppression of humanism and intellectualism makes it easy to forget that there are still true followers of Christ out there who are willing to stand alone for their beliefs against the overwhelming current of modern thought. I will pray for all of you as you continue to serve the One and Only and seek His will for your lives.


  3. Thanks for your prayers and encouragement.

    “For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.”


  4. It’s interesting that your subject is Jehovah Jireh but your topic is about self-reliance. The one who truly believes in Jehovah Jireh is the one who believes every good thing is provided by God and will be provided by God. This faith includes children’s education and many more.


  5. This is where I don’t know what’s faith in God and what’s something else.

    I don’t believe in something so cynical and trite as “God helps those who help themselves.” 潮州音樂 is a poor way to live, a poor way to lukewarmly follow the Lord. But, for the layman, is there an alternative to either putting one’s own trust in the bank’s coffers or asking for ravens to come and for college tuition to drop from the sky (not that there is a lesser demand for laypeople than for clergy)?

    But how much faith is faith of obedience and how much is a counterfeit faith that breeds irresponsibility? All I know is that to spend $40K or more on myself is bad stewardship: if I don’t need so much now, neither will I need so much later in proportion to living expenses. In any case, all of it is from God and to God.

    There is no true keeping, of that I’m sure. All will be spent, invested and saved for some consecrated purpose or for something not in faith, which is sin. But giving to the level of inconvenience, of need, of destitution, how much? If I’m comfortable, it’s probably too much, that much is clear. I’m convinced I must give enough to feel the need to rely on Him for provision.

    All the while, no institution cares how much I actually live on as long as they can see how much I make. There’s Elijah, and then there’s Proverbs. What to make of it? For God is one and unchanging, and so good, being entirely of Him and Him alone, must also be one.

    Offhandedly and lazily using the word “balance” is counter-productive. It leads to complacence and worldly thinking. There is the wise, and there is the good. God tells us in Scripture that these two are one and the same, for secular wisdom divorced from God’s character is evil.

    So we can say it was wise for Peter, receiving Jesus’ command to go onto the water, to have started walking on the water, looking at Jesus in faith. I am equally loath to call Abraham naive when he obeyed God’s command to sacrifice Isaac on Mt. Moriah.

    In faith I can believe that it is more blessed to give than to receive (Acts 20.35). As for everything else, there are so many different things Scripture says. Will God’s will in this kind of complexity ever be clear? Not before many more steps of faith than I have seen, heard or known.


  6. Pingback: Faith? Provision? « Cogito, Credo, Petam

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