By George Crumley

The day finally arrived that I had looked forward to for quite some time—the day I would be driving behind the wheel of our Chevy Monza without a parent. The anticipation was exhilarating as my dad and I went down to the license bureau in Seattle, Washington. After passing the examinations, exploration took on a new meaning as I dropped dad off at work and hit the open road. This rite of passage made me feel grown up, trusted, and thankful to my parents for providing a resource I never could have generated for myself at that age.

As a young man who pretty much enjoyed its exclusive use while going to school, I saw this small car as sporty and I was proud to drive it around. I am sure that some people even thought that it was my car as I commuted to school each day. But the truth was that it was my father’s car and I only drove it because of his graciousness.

There was no doubt that the gift came with crystal-clear instructions on how to take care of it: I was not to accelerate quickly for safety and maximum gas mileage; I was to park in the back of the parking lot to avoid door dings; I was not to eat in the car; etc.

But as time passed, my memory faded regarding my father’s wishes for the care of his car and I started taking off fast to get to class on time, parking as close as possible to the building so I wouldn’t get wet in the rain, and eating a quick sandwich in the car while driving to work—all actions contrary to his desires. Imperceptibly, as I thought of my own needs to be on time, to avoid getting wet and cold, to satisfy my hunger, I lost sight of my father’s wishes. It was then that he would remind me of his instructions by removing the use of the car for a period of time.

I could have presented my “reasons” for what I did, and said that if he loved me, he would want those same outcomes for me—to be on time, to be warm, and to avoid hunger. But the reasons didn’t matter, because I could have honored his wishes above my own convenience by leaving the house earlier, carrying an umbrella to protect me from the cold rain, and arranging for another time to eat.

God also has given us clear instructions on how to care for all that He has given us. As we consciously choose to do things His way, it changes our focus from “What advantage will I get out of this?” to “How does God want me to care for His gifts?” Family budgets begin to look different, we treat the people in our lives better, Sabbath hours spent with Him are filled with encouragement and inspiration, our time becomes more profitable, our weaknesses become stronger, our jobs develop a higher purpose beyond the paycheck, healthful choices increase our endurance, etc.

It is following God’s loving instructions regarding all that He has entrusted to us that will lead us to experience the higher life of more satisfaction and greater happiness. Ultimately, it is through the intentional stewardship of all that He has placed in our hands that our lives are changed for the better.

George Crumley is RMC vice president for finance.