At times, life can be discouraging. It can seem as though nothing is going right, and God has forgotten about you. At times like these, I find it helpful to go back through my history and remember times when God has taken care of me.
College was not an easy experience, as it probably is not for most young people. For Roberta and I we started out at a small church based Bible College, where we could attend college level classes, and intern to gain hands on experience. Since it was a small church based Bible college, and not accredited, there was no financial aid available (a blessing that we did not understand at the time). The education was very reasonably priced ($2,000 per semester including books), but still tough for a college student new to the area, working part time and needing money for living expenses as well. Though it was not easy, never did I miss a meal, go without clothes, sleep in my car, or anything else far better people are sometimes forced to do. There were times that I did not have everything I wanted, and things could have been better. There were several days (sometimes consecutively) that my bank account would have only a couple of dollars, but I would remind myself that a couple of dollars is more than some people. In fact, it kind of became a game to me to try to run my account as close to zero as possible without going over. I once got down to 22 cents!
Through most of my college experience, I was either employed or not employed by choice, only one semester did I not have a job despite looking high and low. Upon arriving at school for my second year, I hit the ground hard looking for a new job, and took the first one I could get. I was hired by Target as a stocker. This was by far the worst job I’ve ever had. I hated every minute of it, but was grateful that God had provided me with a job. Evidently, I was not grateful enough though, because one day I got my schedule mixed up and showed up to work on the wrong day and missed the right day. A couple of days later, I was fired. Discouraged, upset and yet somehow still somewhat hopeful, I made finding a job, my full-time job. Within a week, I had new job back in the restaurants, where I was much more comfortable, and made better money.
I could take credit for it and say that I found the job because I dedicated myself to finding a new one. I could list the places I put applications in and my experience, but ultimately, it happened because God was looking out for me. Through the rest of college, I was able to take jobs and leave them on my own terms. God always provided. Roberta and I were engaged through our last year of college, and I was looking for jobs. I beat every bush I could think of to find a ministry position for Roberta and I. I called DYD’s, looked at every church opening across the country that I could think of, but it was the most obvious/in-obvious place that God had for us, the church I grew up in. We were young, dumb and in love, but God continued to take care of us. We made a few mistakes along the way (actually a lot of them) and we are working on correcting them now, but He has always been there providing for our every need. We felt a stirring in our hearts to move on after 2 years, so move on we did.
At the beginning of the recession, we moved to Oregon to a much smaller church (about 1/10th the size) knowing that God had called us here. There have been some lean times here. On more than one occasion, I’ve been told that it is possible that my job may not continue because the church is struggling financially. On more than one occasion, I was told that my salary might decrease, or that we might lose health care, or other things. In 3 years of employment, my pay was never cut back, neither was my health care or any other benefits. One time went went one week without a paycheck, but that was it. To be honest, we barely even noticed it. God has been good to us.
I love how Jesus says it in the Gospel of Matthew: “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?” (Matthew 6:25-27) There is so much wisdom in this. God’s pattern is that he takes care of his people. He always has provided for me, and he always will. Even when things look the bleakest.
Now with Baby Zane on the way, and Roberta facing the possibility of unemployment, we are looking to God even stronger for provision. We’ve done all that we can do in preparation, saving money, cutting expenses, living as minimally as possible now its God’s turn to show up and show us to make it all work.
The story continues. That is the beauty of it all: it is never over.