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 “Trust in God”

3 O’Clock … AM (2015-03-04 Daily)

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

 

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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