David C. Hughes, Writer

“For the LORD your God will bless you in all your harvest and in all the work of your hands, and your JOY will be complete." –Deuteronomy 16:15

Archive for the tag “Stepping out in faith”

The Patience of Job (Part 2 of 2)

One of the most challenging aspects of leaving my full time job and stepping out in the obedience of my calling has been trusting God with my finances and maintaining fiscal patience. Despite the numbers on paper, I have a less-than-stellar investment record, marred by impatience and bruised by self-reliance. Recent financial squeezing combined with slow online book sales has been sporty, sometimes pushing me to question my judgment, other times instigating deep frustration when fears of losing my house try to assert themselves. As car repair bills made me consider buying a horse, medical invoices showed up weeks after the procedure had faded into history, mandated health insurance rates rose faster than my blood pressure, and my dog had an allergic reaction to her allergy serum, I feel my finances are experiencing the gruesome reality of death by a thousand cuts—a slow bleed out that could force my family into that spacious cardboard box I mentioned in a recent post. Sometimes I feel like Job—I can get just as whiny. And in these cases, like He did with Job, God’s got to get in my face to make me see the light.

As the recent financial challenges continued to mount, I realized I’d once again have to dip into my 401k to remain solvent. Although I’d committed to staying the course by sacrificing this monetary reservoir to finance our leap of faith, the thought of compromising my future by eating away at my life savings still leaves a slightly bitter taste in my mouth. Poverty thinking and dearth mentality aside, I was not happy with having to skim off more of my life’s savings, hence the continued impatience with the pace of book sales and the renewed contention with trust.

With these kinds of thoughts playing bumper cars in my head, I drove to the office one afternoon and focused on my work, immersing myself in the world of Coulomb, Faraday and Tesla. “I was wondering,” Chad asked out of the blue. “Would you mind if I paid you a half year salary up front? It would really help the business if I could do that.”

Whoa? Really? I thought. “Yeah, sure,” I replied, trying to remain poised and professional. “If that would help, I’ll just keep track of my hours and let you know when I burn it back down to zero.”

After the discussion, I texted Mary: Chad wants to pay me for a half year up front!!!!

Her reply: Omgoodness. What an amazing blessing. I’m crying.

“It was an interesting coincidence that Chad told you that today,” Mary told me after dinner. She explained that during the staff meeting at work, she had responded to the call for prayer requests. “I told the ladies, ‘This journey David and I have been on has been an amazing blessing, and we know God provides and He will provide, but we’re at a point now where we’re financially stretched. So please pray for peace during this and for God’s provision to reign. Now.’” My text, she said, had arrived soon after she’d requested that prayer. Another sign, another answered petition, another kiss on the cheek from a God Who cares for us more than we’ll ever know.

This summer James and Janet Marberry, neighbors, good friends and faith-filled believers, spent several weeks in Colorado. As we baked in the Texas heat, they played in the mushy snow. While out shopping one day, Janet found a framed photograph of a diorama depicting two miniature painters painting a river-polished stone. “Things Take Time” they had scrawled on the rock. Janet presented the picture to Mary and me, a gift for watching their house while they were out of town. “I thought of you when I saw this,” she said, “because this process takes time.” Coincidentally, the day she gave us that photograph was the same day the proofs of The Epiphany of Joy and Melted Clowns arrived in the mail, and the same day Mary celebrated the end of her formal job to focus on working the business end of the writing endeavor.

Just the other day a friend asked me how the book sales were doing. “Direct sales are going great,” I replied. “But online sales are painfully slow.” In fact, for every book I’ve sold online, I’ve sold eight or nine books at book signings, craft fairs and get-togethers with friends. “Marketing is hard,” I lamented. “But I’m learning.”

“Sometimes it may take years for a writer to take off,” my friend counseled, a fact that, alas, is true in most cases. But moving forward with deliberation and patience will make the moment of takeoff that much more thrilling. And more meaningful.

God does nothing with impatience. He kept His mouth shut from Chapter 3 through Chapter 37 in the Book of Job, allowing Job to wallow in self-righteousness, self-pity and indignation while his friends bore false witness against him. It can take ten years for a pecan tree to yield its first fruits. It took 4,000 years for God to restore mankind back to Himself after the Fall. It took millennia for Him to paint the Grand Canyon in all its splendor and breathlessness. God’s not in any hurry.

Things take time. Wait upon the Lord. Be still.

It’s all in His timing. And in His magnificent hands.

 

Copyright ©2015 by David C. Hughes

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The Patience of Job (Part 1 of 2)

I beg your pardon,

I never promised you a rose garden.

Along with the sunshine,

There’s gotta be a little rain sometimes.

             —Lynn Anderson, Rose Garden

 

I sat at my desk re-reading the Document Control and Change Management Process Guide for the umpteenth time that afternoon. Even though the process manual was coming together nicely, I felt it was taking much too long to finish—every time I typed the last period, another flaw in the procedure would jump out from behind a paragraph and yell “boo.” I leaned forward, determined to clear up the lingering confusion. I sighed. I’d been polishing the document for at least a week, but it hadn’t yet taken a shine.

Chad, the owner of the company, looked up from his computer. I’d been working for him as a contract electronic designer for over three years, and recently he’d asked me if I’d be willing to take on more hours. He’d rebuilt the eight-year-old business from the ground up, a nascent phoenix rising from the ashes of the Great Recession. I’d accepted the increased workload without question, recognizing not only the opportunity to help Chad rebuild his company, but also the chance to witness God’s outpouring of supernatural provision.

“I need your opinion on something,” Chad said. He then asked for my input on one facet of his company vision. I welcomed the break, and after we’d chatted for a couple of minutes, the conversation turned toward one of my favorite subjects: trust. “To make this business work we’re going to have to find people we can trust. I trust you,” he assured, “but I’m still going to ask you a lot of questions.” Having worked in the defense industry for 27 years, I could relate—the Government overseers with whom I’d worked occasionally reminded us that their job was to “trust but verify.” Having stepped out in faith and obedience to write a book full time, I could relate even more. As King Solomon advised his son in Proverbs 3:5-6 (NKJV):

 

Trust in the Lord with all your heart,

And lean not on your own understanding;

In all your ways acknowledge Him,

And He shall direct your paths.

 

It’s all a God thing, as I like to say. But trust takes a bunch of patience, the patience of Job.

Despite the outward manifestation of God’s faithfulness over the years, trust and I are still awkward partners in this life’s dance. For the past couple of decades, trust in both God and myself has grown, not like a cottonwood—fast and weak, subject to cracking and breaking under extreme conditions—but like a pecan tree—slow, strong and resilient. And after years of lifting my branches toward heaven, I’m bearing fruit—a bumper crop—the first of many to come. I recognize that, yet …

As Chad and I talked, the subject of patience, especially in the financial realm, followed on the heels of trust. “It’s hard to be patient when all you see is red,” Chad reflected. “But we just need to stay the course.” Definitely easier said than done. If trust and I are still uneasy dance partners, patience and I are continuing sparring buddies. In my book, The Epiphany of Joy, I mentioned that I once asked God, “What’s my worst sin?”

“Impatience,” He answered immediately. The response came with no hesitation.

What’s that saying? “If you don’t like the answer, don’t ask the question.”

I carry around the infractions of my impatience like a well-worn but ever-growing rap sheet. I’ve wrecked cars because of my impatience. I’ve lost money—lots and lots of money—because of impatience. I’ve missed countless opportunities to grow and learn because of impatience. I’m impatient with the pace of God’s financial outpouring. I’m impatient with the rate of acceleration of my writing career. I’m impatient with myself. If the wages of sin is death, then the salary of impatience is regret. I’d do well to write the words of Charlotte Bronte across the chalkboard of my heart: “Remorse is the poison of life.”

We talk about the patience of Job, how he endured Satan’s relentless attacks against his family, property and health while never cursing God. We talk about how he endured the persistent and sometimes foolish judgment of his so-called friends and how he remained convinced that God’s wrath (in reality Satan’s tempting and God’s testing) was unfounded and unfair. But this story is really about the patience (and mercy) of God rather than the patience of Job. Job, though blameless in God’s eyes, was not without sin. The poor guy was in denial:

 

So these three men ceased answering Job, because he was righteous in his own eyes. Then the wrath of Elihu, the son of Barachel the Buzite, of the family of Ram, was aroused against Job; his wrath was aroused because he justified himself rather than God.

—Job 32:1-2 NKJV

 

The sin Job didn’t recognize was his own self-righteousness. Only after God stepped in and wire brushed him did Job finally open his heart, repent and relinquish all to his Creator. And after Job did as God commanded—praying for his friends—God restored his wealth and his position: “And the LORD restored Job’s losses when he prayed for his friends. Indeed the LORD gave Job twice as much as he had before” (Job 42:10 NKJV).

(continued)

 

Copyright ©2014 by David C. Hughes

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