Drastic Measures: One Couple’s Journey to Financial Freedom
Meet my friends, Gable and Dani Burnett. They have taken a remarkable leap of faith in recent months that, I believe, holds promise for many.
It’s a story of financial slavery to freedom, but it’s also a story of radical obedience. Sometimes in our walk with God, it’s about baby steps. But other times, baby steps are not what He’s asking. Sometimes freedom takes drastic measures. And when drastic measures are what He’s requiring, the best response we can offer is a faith-filled YES.
Friend, take this story as a personal invitation…
I recently saw a quote that said, “Good judgment comes from experience, and that experience usually comes from bad judgment.” There is so much truth to that. Especially in our experience…
Dani and I married two years ago, each bringing our own debt to the table. We never planned to get in debt, but it happened. $59,000 in the blink of an eye. Student loans. Two cars. A wedding and a honeymoon.
At first, it seemed so simple to pay back. For about a year, we paid slightly more than minimum payments. We didn’t sacrifice. I was making great money, and Dani was moving up in her job. We were enjoying the status quo. Our debt had become a pet that we tended to once or twice a month. We even found and purchased a beautiful home we loved during this time. It felt like we were achieving the normal, expected dream of finding your spouse, landing a great job, buying a house, traveling the world, and so on.
We accrued a mortgage with zero money down. And for a while, we were doing just fine tending to our pet debt and covering our monthly expenses.
Then I lost my job in September 2015.
I thought I’d hop right into another job, but it wasn’t so. A few weeks became a month, and one month became six. Over time, this Chihuahua-sized debt became a Great Dane. And we began to see how much we were going to pay in interest. The lie that “it’s just 5.99%” seemed believable until we realized exactly what that meant [$8000 extra on just one loan]. We also realized that this “normal, expected” dream we had been pursuing came more from the culture around us than from God.
Through God’s provision, I did land a new job – with just enough money left to make one more mortgage payment.
With this new opportunity and lease on life, we knew the debt had to go. Which meant several possessions had to go, some of which were dear to us. We sold one of our cars. We got rid of some household items. But we knew we couldn’t stop there. We also sold our beautiful home. The one we had pictured living in for years to come.
Through the process of coming to these big decisions, we recognized that our house had offered a false sense of security and status. Only God offers true security. It wasn’t easy, but we were ready to let it go.
We moved into a small apartment and began pounding away at the debt as fast as we could.
Our motto – and the convicting verse that started this debt free journey – was Proverbs 22:7:
“The rich rule over the poor, the borrower is slave to the lender.”
Dani and I decided we had had enough slavery. We wanted freedom. So this has been our steadfast pursuit for the past several months.
The great news is that with much sacrifice, we believe we will be debt free in just 3 to 4 months!
In two years of marriage and debt, we have fully paid off $24,000 of student loans and about 70% of a $34,000 loan. Most of our debt repayment has happened in the last 6 months.
We share our story in hopes that it will encourage others to take steps toward freedom. If you feel overwhelmed with debt, we speak from experience: Get control over your spending. Get a budget. Learn to eat in. Be willing to sacrifice…a lot.
Great reward is waiting. There is hope and a better future for you!
Friends, there’s an invitation in this for us.
To let go of that thing to which we’ve been clinging.
To relinquish what we’ve been trying to control in our own strength.
To believe that what He’s asking will lead to our good.
To gladly give back the good thing He gave to us.
What I love about Gable and Dani’s story is the value they placed on freedom. Nothing was too high a price to pay for it. No possession was too precious to withhold from Him.
Too many times, we make the mistake of thinking that because God gave us something, we’re entitled to clinch it forever. It would have been so easy for Dani and Gable to think of their home that way. It’s beautiful. We love it. We’ve started our life here. We could never sell it. If they had bought in to this mistaken mentality, they would have allowed a house to stand between them and the life God is offering. Quite literally, between them and God.
Thankfully, that’s not what they did. When they heard in their heart what needed to be done, they valued that Council – valued His voice – more than they valued even their home.
Don’t miss this truth, Friends. His voice, His presence…This will always be the prize. No material possession could ever be. No matter which quiet waters He leads us to, no matter how great a reward He ever bestows on us, it could never compare to His nearness. The sound of His voice saying our name. The presence of our loving Shepherd guiding us along the path of life.
This is the prize of the human heart. And until we agree with that, live from that, we’re going to keep mistaking lesser things for the prize.
Another beautiful thing about their story is that drastic measures and radical obedience lead to abundant reward. God doesn’t require great things of us to offer us little in return. In His goodness, what we gain far exceeds what we lay down.
A saying comes to mind. “When we release what’s in our hand, God releases what’s in His.” Not in a slot machine kind of way, but in a “Give me your all, and I’ll take you a better journey than you ever could have come up with by yourself” kind of way.
Surrender to our Shepherd is the gateway to abundance. And abundance encompasses every part of our existence [emotional, relational, physical, financial, etc]…because so does surrender. You don’t get one without the other.
So, Friend, if you’ve been feeling the weight of something that needs to be relinquished to God, do it. In faith. With a glad heart. As worship. And with a posture of surrender.
Let Him take you on an adventure.
Thank you, Gable and Dani, for sharing your story!
As with all posts, I encourage you to share this if it spoke to you. The need for financial freedom touches most lives in our midst, and these might just be the words that will liberate someone you know!
Top photo by Blink Photographic