The following is a personal testimony from a time in my life in which my faith in God reached a turning point.
I’ve been thinking alot about emotions. It’s been an emotional month, but most of that stuff I keep buried (yes, I’m admitting it). I’ve had some internal struggles and decisions, and I’m still trying to digest and figure them out.
If you were to take my life and put it on paper and then examine it, you’ll see that I have a history of making decisions based on emotions. You might notice a trend which indicates I don’t do it as much as I used to. However, I am still prone sometimes to making emotionally charged decisions.
Most emotionally charged decisions are the wrong decisions. Emotions are an effect, not a cause. They are a product, not a source. This seems to be universally applicable, but I will address this from the believer’s standpoint. What should be our source? As we consider major decisions in our life, what should be the basis upon which our thoughts build?
When we lived in Tennessee, I served at a large church north of Nashville. It was our first church after Sarah and I were married. We experienced much stress in our life, partly due to the fact that we were a newlywed couple and didn’t have many friends to call our own. Sarah had less friends than I did, and it was very hard on both of us as new married people, moving away from our families and trying to figure out who in the world we had married. I was blessed to work with a godly staff, but because of student loans and other bills, some foolishly incurred, we fell into debt and our income was not matching our spending.
I heard about a company south of us that was looking to hire a piano conservatory director/musical theatre accompanist. It paid almost double what we were making. We lept at it, without giving it much thought or prayer.We assumed that because we were in desperate need of increased income, that God had answered that need in this manner.
Sometimes, we assume that because a door opened, God must’ve been the opener.
While our situation temporarily improved, it ended in complete disaster. The tears, pain, and anguish that visited us in the years to come, simply because we went through a door we shouldn’t have gone through, served as a “trial by fire” for our beliefs, our careers, our outlook in life, and our family. I will tell you – if we didn’t have that genuine faith in God and a love for each other, I’m not sure we would’ve made it through that time. It wasn’t that we didn’t love each other. It would’ve been so easy to just run. Run away from each other, from the job, from our faith. We could’ve blamed God for a decision we made (and I’m pretty sure I DID blame him for a while).
One day, after finding out my job would be ending by such a date, I packed Sarah and our new baby daughter in the car, and we drove south 9 hours until we reached my hometown. I made a nice resume up and the next morning, I began passing it out. The first place I walked into ended up being the place that offered me a full-time position. It paid far less than our combined income in Tennessee had been, but it would help us get through the hard time (I had this personal conviction that I would refuse to live off the government).
So there I was, an assistant and later store manager of a shoe store. Boy, it would’ve been easy to run, based on the emotions I was feeling. I felt like my career was over. I was working quite a few hours, some of them with people who detested me (seriously!), and at one point we were living with family because we had no place to live. We made too much to get help from the state with our child’s insurance, but too little to afford it for ourselves. It was a miserable time.
A couple of months after I accepted that position, I heard about a manager opening, and I inquired and was eventually hired and relocated within the same company. I worked long hours, and could never do enough to please my supervisor. I wasn’t very healthy, and my life really seemed doomed to insignificance. Our daughter was beautiful and young, but part of me knew that I would never give her the life I had always dreamed and hoped I would. Same for Sarah at the time – I couldn’t be the provider I wanted to – I couldn’t even spend a day at home without being called in to work because of things only I could handle.
On Thanksgiving day of 2003 (I think), we managed to take a day and made the 3 hour drive to see my parents. I checked my email, and I had a church inquiring as to whether I’d still be interested in taking a worship pastor position. Apparently, they had seen my resume and saved it for over a year. I had posted it after I lost the position in Tennessee – quite a bit of time had passed.
I showed Sarah and felt in my spirit that I should completely disclose our circumstances. She read it, and said it looked like I was trying to talk them out of hiring me. We weren’t currently in the ministry (a big thing for SBC churches), there was a hang-up with my degree at the time, and we were completely scarred from the disastrous year we had lived through.
The church did end up hiring us, and we served there happily for over 5 years before coming to where we are at now. We re-embraced our calling and our faith in God, our ultimate provider.
This is where I’ll end the testimony except to say this – were it not for the rough road we travelled, we would not be where we are at today. I don’t know what would’ve happened.
Throughout the 8 or so years since all of this went down, Sarah and I have come up with some basic tenets of our faith that are very near and dear to us.
1. God is always faithful. Even when we can’t see it. Especially when we can’t see it. Even when we are in the deepest, darkest hole, being hurt and wounded.
2. God’s plans are not our own plans, and His timing is perfect. God is not our co-pilot. He is our only pilot. Taking the reins of our life from God always ends badly, if not in disaster.
3. God’s perfect plan can and does include imperfect people and their flawed decisions. We see this time and time again in the Bible. We look at the disaster that was David’s life, and yet we acknowledge Him as a “man after God’s own heart” (Acts 13:22).
4. There are times to stand firm, and there are times to run. Running away from a problem, a grievance, an “issue,” or a person is denying God’s opportunity to display Himself as the great Redeemer, Restorer, Strong Tower, Counselor, Friend, etc. God always desires that restoration and redemption occur. The only time I can see that we need to run is when faced with potential immorality – such as Joseph did in Genesis 39:11-18.
5. When we do mess up, and turn back to God, he will restore. Look at Israel during the time of the Judges. Worship false gods, get punished, turn to God, get delivered, worship false gods, get punished, turn to God, get delivered….etc etc.
1 John 1:9 – If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.
Anyways, just stuff that has been on my mind. I hope you’ve enjoyed reading about this part of our lives – maybe something here can help something you are going through.