Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”
-Joshua 1:9 NIV®
I have to admit: I’ve been pretty darn mean to God lately. Actually I’ve been a whiny little brat who’s mentally threatened to trash God publicly if He doesn’t come through with the prosperity He promises throughout the Bible. “You’re the One Who’s going to look like a fool, Lord,” I’ve told Him more than once. “So c’mon, I’m waiting.” Ouch ….
But if there’s one thing I’ve learned over the years, it’s that God has great big shoulders—He’ll take the crap we dish out like the Gentleman that He is, and after we’ve vented our frustration, anger and discontentment with the way things are, He’ll wrap His loving arms around us, hold us tight and whisper encouragement in our ear. Because that’s Who He is.
A couple years ago, while contemplating this adventure, I was squirming over the incipient loss of income and the very real potential for financial failure. One morning, as I sat down in my spot at the kitchen bar and began to eat my oatmeal, I found a Post-It Note stuck to the granite. “Casting all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. -1 Peter 5:7.” The note, placed there by my amazing wife, stuck. I looked up the verse and eventually memorized it as well as the one after it, whispering them under my breath as I took my daily stroll through the aircraft factory where I worked at the time:
Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.
-1 Peter 5:6-7 NIV®
But lately I’ve all but forgotten those verses as the reality of the financial squeezing has stirred up wave after wave of frustration, discouragement and intense worry as we continue to walk down this path. Despite the very real fact that we’ve experienced miracle after obvious miracle over the past four years of this journey, I’ve allowed myself to fall into a state of turmoil as the world moves ahead financially while I fall behind. You see, dependence on the false security of money is an enemy stronghold anchored deeply in my mind, rooted there by generational fear, germinated under the heat lamp of necessity and urged onward with a decades-long striving to retire early to pursue this writing life. Not a day goes by without my thoughts turning toward money, and as the stock market zooms into record territory, my toes curl with frustration that yet again I’ve been foolish with my money, missing out in one of the longest and most aggressive bull market recoveries in U.S. history.
But because of my own history of financial missteps caused by greed and impatience, I’ve stayed on the sidelines watching the world “get ahead” while I pay my multi-thousand dollar tax bill to support inane social programs and wonder how much longer I can keep the house. Believe me, it doesn’t make for a very happy hubby or a very patient papa. As such, the very next verse following Peter’s words above has become very real: “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8 NIV®). Lately I’ve felt like that unlucky gazelle at the end of the chase.
A particular oddity I experience during times of stress like this is waking up at 3 o’clock in the morning from a dead sleep. Lately I’ve been waking up at 3 o’clock in the morning a whole lot. Over the years I’ve wondered why 3 o’clock, but I’ve gotten into the habit of immediately praying after I awaken, mainly to cast my anxieties on God. Okay, okay, mainly to complain, beg, whine, and implore. So this morning when I woke up from a deep, restful sleep at precisely 2:16 AM, I started once again to express my concern to God about our financial status and my worry that I’ve missed the financial boat by sidelining my savings over the last four years. This despite the fact that I’ve lost complete and total trust in not only the government, but in the stock market and other financial institutions as well. “I feel like I’ve missed out on a huge financial gain because I haven’t been investing,” I grumbled to God.
“You are investing,” God told me quite clearly. “In your writing.”
Whoa . . . . He’s right! I’m working my butt off on my writing and I feel like it’s gotten better—it’s getting better—over the last few years. I can start an essay or short story and actually finish it within a reasonable amount of time, sometimes in an hour or two. Mary and I are learning the trade and are poised to begin the process of marketing in earnest after I crank out my next four books (by the end of the year, God willing). The books are being recognized, and amazing opportunities to do book signings have presented themselves. Nevertheless, I often wonder why God has given me such a passion to pursue something that doesn’t pay. But He recently reminded me, when I asked (okay, nagged) for provision, that He’s already provided it in the form of my old, crusty 401k, the rollover IRA that’s parked in a money market account yielding just enough to pay for a candy bar once a year. Yes, it may seem foolish to the world to rely on withdrawing money from a pre-tax retirement savings account at age 50 to finally answer my calling, but as Paul wrote in his first letter to the Corinthians, “For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in God’s sight” (1 Corinthians 3:19 NIV®). God reminded me just this morning that even though I’m in the world, I’m not of the world. Reminds me of that song by Sting. …
After a bit more prayer, God said “Now look at the clock.” When I opened my eyes it was straight up 3:00. Then, after all these years of wondering, He revealed to me why I wake up at that particular time: the number 3 is symbolic of the Trinity. And 3:00 is the time the Trinity does its best work in me. I guess He does care for me.
Copyright © 2015 David C Hughes