This is part 4 of an ongoing series on faith, and what has turned out to be much more a journey than a topic, per se. In my last post I discussed the nature of faith, and how it must start with knowing the will of God, and then knowing how to pursue the will of God. After that, we must step out and act on what He has shown us, and trust that He will do what He said He would. In the last 2 months I have learned a lot of points on walking out my faith, and I wanted to share my testimony here in case it would be a help to someone else. After that, in my next post, I want to touch on why it is so important that we walk in faith, and why this has become such a big topic for me. First, though, for my testimony.
I moved to Larned, where I now live, about 5 1/2 years ago, and began working at a hospital-owned clinic. I did that for about 2 1/2 years. In that 2 1/2 years my wife and I stepped out in faith and opened a retail shop in town, a combination coffee shop/scrapbook store. Of course, that endeavor took a lot of our time and money. In November 2007 I started doing extra work in an Emergency Room an hour away, to help support our own debt load, and to help support the store. By the following January circumstances had transpired such that I quit my job, and started my own clinic, which opened in February of 2008. I continued working in the ER full-time, in addition to working my own clinic, for the next 2 years or more. Fast forward to 2010, which found me working at an ER closer to home, and doing a 24 hour shift every Thursday, and 48 hours in a weekend, one weekend per month. By August or September Tayleene and I independently began to feel that it was time to give up the weekends. We both felt that that season was to be over, but that in the natural it would continue until we decided to put an end to it. We also were planning for the birth of our second baby in December, and I didn’t want to be gone from home as much. We finally decided, in October, that my last weekend would be November, and after that I would only work my Thursdays.
Bear in mind, I still was not (and still am not) drawing a salary from my clinic. Neither was my wife drawing a salary from the shop. In fact, we were still having to put money into that business to keep things afloat. So, in the natural, we had no business cutting back on our hours, but both of us knew this was the direction we were to take. So, I gave notice and we “braced for impact” so to speak.
Ironically, this was a very similar situation to the one we were in when I first began ER work initially. At that time I knew that the Lord would provide our needs, and part of me wanted to step out of the boat and let the Lord supply, but at the end of the day we decided to work extra to meet our needs. Looking back on that scenario I do not regret my decision, as my faith was very fledgling at that time, and I still had a lot of fear and anxiety pent up on the inside. I have no doubt that the Lord would’ve taken care of us, but it would’ve been an extremely difficult test, much more difficult than the test that awaited me this time around, and I don’t think I had the understanding to walk it out the way I did this time around. The cycles and seasons of the Lord continue to amaze me!
So, as I said, I gave notice to my employer, and waited for the change to take place. Initially things were fine, but of course I was still getting paid for past work. By the first part of December, however, everything hit, and it hit all at once, and it hit hard. One second I was feeling confident in my faith, that He would care for my needs, next minute (almost literally, it was over the span of 10-15 minutes as I paid bills one Sunday afternoon) facing thousands of dollars in bills that I didn’t have the money for, and internally was beginning to “freak out”. Now, this is where the Mark of 2010 differed from the Mark of 2007. In 2007 I don’t think I would’ve had the understanding, faith or strength to continue to stand, in spite of what I saw, and I think I would’ve “freaked”. This time, I was able to begin standing on the word, knowing that He would supply. In my mind I feared. In my mind I felt guilty and condemned, especially as overdrafts began piling in (another thing I learned quickly, or rather relearned, is the art of balancing a checkbook, something I had not been faithful at prior to that). In my heart, however, I knew the promises. ”My God will supply all my needs according to His riches in glory”. ”He has given us all things that pertain to life and Godliness”. ”It is He that gives seed to the sower and bread for food”. And, of course, Matthew 6:26-34, the verse that made me realize that, in reality, these issues were small potatoes in the Lord’s eyes, and that my focus could not be continually on money, but must be directed to seeking Christ and His kingdom. There was also the story of the fish with the coin in its mouth, further proof that this isn’t a big deal! I would read the Old Testament with renewed eyes, seeing the miracles performed through much different eyes, realizing that, “my God is powerful, majestic, awe-inspiring and undeniable!” How could such a God fail me?
In the initial two weeks or so of this process I kept looking for the quick fix. I saw no hope for meeting the needs I had in my natural resources, so surely the Lord was going to have to use someone to dump a bunch of money in my lap, right? The problem with that idea is that, then, my faith would’ve been in that gift, and not see that gift as the Lord’s provision. Through the mentoring of a good friend, I realized that this issue is a process. I realized that I didn’t have a money problem, I had a faith problem. Could the Lord meet my need suddenly? Absolutely. Did I possess the faith to operate in that manner? Absolutely not! So, I had to have faith in the small things, and I had to become more efficient from a natural perspective. Instead of burying my head in the sand at the stack of bills, a tendency of mine due to my own anxiety and fear, I had to face the issue head on. I had to contact my creditors, and make arrangements for future repayment. I had to cut back on spending, personally and in both businesses, that wasn’t vital. Through it all, the Lord used the situation to address a lot of OTHER issues BESIDES faith. I’ll hopefully post more on that concept later.
It is now almost two months since I cut back my ER hours. I still have some large bills. I still am having to pinch a lot of pennies that I ultimately don’t want to pinch (buying new product for the store, etc.). But, the Lord has given me favor with creditors. A LOT of favor! I am closer to being out of the hole now than I was. I think the story that really explains it all to me is the 3 Hebrew children and the fiery furnace. The three were faithful in their pursuit of their God, and it got them in trouble! This is proof that life in Christ is not a bed of roses in the natural. The king threatened them with the fiery furnace, and God didn’t keep them from that. God did, however, protect them from the fire, and when they came out they didn’t even smell of smoke! What a powerful testimony to the king. This proves that, when we learn to walk in faith and trust in our God, times that are hard in the natural don’t need to be hard in Christ. Although I am not at that point now, it gives me a reference point of what CAN and/or WILL be, as I continue to walk in Him. The other thing my good friend pointed out is the correlation between the purity of our witness and the smoke from the fire. If I continue to conduct my business as He is teaching me to, when I come through this fire my witness will be intact, and that is what I desire. I don’t want my lack of faith or diligence to reflect poorly on Him.
Well, this pretty much gets us current, for the most part. There maybe some ancillary lessons I have learned along the way, but I shared some of that here, and didn’t expect to. I hope that this story is beneficial to somebody, and I’ll continue to post as new developments occur.