(This is the third post in a 30-Week Series – Getting to Know God.)
It was the spring of 2010. About six months after being laid off from a position of vice present of sales for the previous 11 years and an industry I had known for most of my 25-year career, it had become clear the sales position I had taken immediately after I was laid off was not working out and I saw the writing on the wall. I wasn’t the only employee with a mark on their back; but I didn’t want to be fired which would only add to my deepening depression and sense of failure (not to mention a black mark on my resume’).
In the spring of 2010, I would turn 49 years old. Once I turned 50, I reasoned, there would be even fewer career opportunities. I was at a crossroads. Was this the right time to start my own contracting business? The job market left me little choice. Taking a portion of retirement funds (which is never a good idea), I started out with making a new life for myself. My goal was simply to earn enough to make our household monthly expenses. There would be no time to think about retirement but only how I could continue to help my middle school sons with their college education and keep our current material assets.
“For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.” 1 Timothy 6:10
Serving two masters
24 “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.” Matthew 6:24
In retrospect the timing of my business decision was curiously during the time of self-reflection – the Lenten Season. At time I was reading the ministry of John the Baptist. John was living much of the time in desert areas and existing on a diet of locusts and honey. His lifestyle was dictated more out of necessity that eccentricity. The poor and affluent were drawn to hearing his proclamation of Jesus, the “Lamb of God,” the Messiah who would deliver them (and me) from bondage.
John preached repentance
The crowds came out to be baptized by John:
“John said to the crowds coming out to be baptized by him, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? 8 Produce fruit in keeping with repentance. And do not begin to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I tell you that out of these stones God can raise up children for Abraham. 9 The ax is already at the root of the trees, and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire.”
10 “What should we do then?” the crowd asked.
11 John answered, “Anyone who has two shirts should share with the one who has none, and anyone who has food should do the same.”
12 Even tax collectors came to be baptized. “Teacher,” they asked, “what should we do?”
13 “Don’t collect any more than you are required to,” he told them.
14 Then some soldiers asked him, “And what should we do?”
He replied, “Don’t extort money and don’t accuse people falsely—be content with your pay.”” Luke 3:7-14
What was the appeal to the affluent who heard John’s message?
While my family was far from affluent, or were we? We had a lovely home, a vacation home in upper Michigan, fairly new cars, nice clothes, food… We didn’t lack anything. The economic crisis of 2008-2009 didn’t happen just for me to reflect on my lifestyle.
But how was God using this adversity in my life?
Could it be that John’s message was a call for personal purity and individual righteousness a call for me to change which master I would serve?
Had I really been a faithful follower of Christ?
Jesus Christ: “Do Not Worry”
25 “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? 26 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? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? 28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today, and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? 31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” Matthew 6:25-34
A prayer from my journal
Oh Father, I confess my heart aches by doubts, fears, and despair. I live in the darkness of hopelessness. Material things have taken Your rightful place. Forgive me for placing the rewards and promises of this world above You. Forgive me for pursuing money over pursuing Your will and purpose.
Oh Father, remove the doubts that haunt me. Guide me in the direction I should go without worry or anxiety over money. As I am reminded of my own baptism, help me to trust in Your promises, Your faithfulness, Your grace and Your forgiveness as Lord of my Life through Jesus Christ. Amen
May I pray for you?
The Prayer Journals are my personal spiritual journey in conjunction with writing my spiritual memoir. My posts in 2018 are a series relating to this theme. If you have just joined The Prayer Journals, I hope you will take the time to explore previous posts on this site.
Please reach out to The Prayer Journals if I can answer any questions about keeping a prayer journal of your own. A prayer journal is an intimate communication between you and God. You don’t have to be a master writer. Perhaps you are an illustrator, a painter, a poet, a lyricist or creator of scrapbooks. Use your gifts to communicate with God, however you wish in your prayer journal.
Blessings on your day,
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