In my quest to buy myself out of the hole of unfulfillment I’d dug for myself, I fell for every get-rich-quick scheme that evil could conjure: multi-level marketing, a militant goal-setting program on cassette tape, gold coins, penny stocks, the stock market, even my job. And with each failed attempt to make my million, jump off the hamster wheel, and get on with my writing career, God kicked out another pier holding up my fantasyland of trusting in money. Isn’t it ironic that “In God We Trust” is printed on every paper bill and etched on every U.S. coin minted in recent history? It should be a reminder that money is only a tool, a servant, as P.T. Barnum declared, a means to a greater end as long as it’s framed in the proper perspective. But I didn’t comprehend that truth; I built a road paved with the green stuff in all its fickleness, power, and empty promises.
The road I constructed meandered from greed to false hope to despair. It doubled back on itself, leading me from fear to depression to grief. It spun in ever widening circles of mistrust in myself, other people, and, ironically, in money. I developed a deep disgust for people working in the financial industry because each one I’d ever dealt with had led me down a path of financial loss. And financial loss equated to loss of hope in the dream which tried again and again to germinate in my stony heart. I had lost all trust, especially as I watched in horror as the Great Recession swept away hundreds of thousands of dollars I’d saved over the course of my career.
As I writhed from the shock of the financial meltdown and its gut-wrenching effect on my 401K, and as frustration grew over the stagnation of my job’s financial reality and potential, God propelled me into slaying my lust for money and convinced me to place my trust squarely in Him once-and-for-all. “God makes all things work together for the good of those who love Him,” the apostle Paul promised the Christians living in first-century Rome (Romans 8:28 NIV). Not some things. Not most things. All things, both good and bad. And when God released me from the shackles of self-delusion and opened my eyes to the connectedness of the past and the promise of a joy-filled, prosperous future, I accepted His permission to step out in faith and step into His will. As King Solomon urged in Proverbs, I finally submitted:
Trust in the Lord with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways submit to him,
and he will make your paths straight.
–Proverbs 3:5-6 (NIV)
After years of false security and unfulfilled promises, the spirit of mammon finally spit me out. That’s when God picked me up at Fully Alive, shifted my eyes away from the love of money and the bitterness of unforgiveness, and refocused them on His love, His abundance, and His security. “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free,” Paul wrote in his letter to the Galatians. “Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” (Galatians 5:1). In my new freedom I took off my yoke of slavery and relocated my trust from the burnt-out tenements of mammon to the unlimited glory of the One Who created me. I was no longer a slave but a free man, and not only a free man but a son of the One True God.
“Trust that I am right now creating these paths and opportunities for you,” God had told me at that men’s retreat in January 2011, “Enjoy and be filled with joy! This is the path.” Like Abram trusting God’s call in Genesis 12:1 to “leave your country, your people and your father’s household and go to the land I will show you,” I took the leap of faith and began to trust. I mean, really deep-down-in-my-heart trust God and His promises. But it wasn’t easy. In fact, because of the decades of my reliance on money and the false hope of a secure future based on its sandy foundations, it took me another year to relinquish the hold it had on me, and still another year to jump feet-first into the river of trust. I divorced a steady six-figure income and the promise of a six-figure retirement to re-marry the One who “richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment.” (1 Timothy 6:17 NIV). Like Abram did, I “left as the Lord had told” me (Genesis 12:4). I’m still holding my nose as I’m being swept away from my old self by the stream of living water, but each “coincidence,” each kiss on the cheek from God the Provider, each unexpected financial blessing inches me toward complete and total trust in the One Who “created [me] in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for [me] to do.” (Ephesians 2:10 NIV).
The psalmist wrote in Psalm 91:1-4:
Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High
will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my
fortress, my God, in whom I trust.”
Surely he will save you from the fowler’s snare
and from the deadly pestilence.
He will cover you with his feathers,
and under his wings you will find refuge;
his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.
God’s faithfulness is my shield and rampart; He never gave up on me even when I gave up on Him. He never let me go even though I let Him go. He does hide me under His wings. The God Who created me and predestined me according to His plan “works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will.” (Ephesians 1:11 NIV). I can trust that “he who began a good work in [me] will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 1:6). Finally submitting to God and trusting His will has changed my life forever. I trust myself again. I trust God again. And in that trust is an ever-abiding joy.
Copyright ©2013 by David C. Hughes