Hebrews 13:23-28 ESV
Let me tell you a story of faith—faith without sight. Faith when all looks dim, and God seems silent.
As I moved on my upward career path, gaining more responsibility and making more money every year since I had left college, life was good. My world remained mostly stable, and I did not know what I did not know, which was this: I found my significance in everything that passes away—in money, in where we lived, in my marriage, in how I looked, and in what other people thought of me.
It started in an unsuspecting way. Austin left his job and took a full commission sales job. His job was full of promise, and I was rocking and rolling in my job in the entertainment business. Not only did I love my work but I also was finally in the industry I had lusted for my entire life. Although I wasn't on the front side of the camera, I was behind the scenes, and it fed a deep desire in me.
What we quickly learned about full commission sales is that it's unpredictable and that it takes time to build a clientele, and that translated to living off of my salary mostly, which meant we had to cut out extras. Cutting out extras for a time is not hard, but it becomes incredibly difficult when you realize you can no longer count on a future full of extras, or the life you once had and envisioned for yourself.
We were living in a one-bedroom apartment. I was embarrassed. I grew up in Highland Park, and somewhere like that was where I belonged . . . or was it? I would walk through Lakewood and covet the homes. I pictured our life in one of these homes and awaited the day things would "turn around" for us and we could buy one, have our 2.5 kids, and live happily ever after. But it didn't happen, and finally this impassioned desire to have that sort of life overtook me, and I could no longer live that way. So I cried out to God, and His solution was to stop looking at the homes as I walked past. So, I started going on walks and literally looking only down at the pavement. I would not look to the right or to the left, but only at the sidewalk. And slowly, very slowly, my heart's attachment to that which was not mine—a perfect home, life, and family—died. I found I no longer wanted or needed that life I thought I had to have to be happy.
Fast forward a year or so, and I have lost my job. This means, as I have written about before, that we have zero consistent income coming in. But God, being rich in mercy, came in and provided for us when we could not provide for ourselves. He gave Austin a job, and in two weeks Austin had a promotion and raise that matched my old salary exactly. And I entered a realm I had never before experienced or known.
In this world of job-less-ness, I saw myself. I saw that I valued myself based on how much money I made, if I was continuing to "climb the ladder," and if people I worked with appreciated me. But it was all gone, in a flash, and there was nothing I could do to get it back. And so every day I faced the fact that the things in which I had formerly found my worth no longer existed. You would think it would be obvious, but it wasn't, not for a while. It is now clear that those things were never secure; I only thought they were, and that God, being rich in mercy, was removing them from my life, not because of me, but because of the great loved with which He loved me.
And then, I'm here now, and it's been over a year since I've had consistent income. It's been over two years that Austin and I have essentially lived on one person's salary. I do not say that to complain; rather, I rejoice, because it has removed our heart's belief that our money was our own (rather than a gift from God) and that having it today meant we'd always have it. Instead, we have seen that we could have everything today and it could be gone tomorrow; or, we could have nothing today and the whole world tomorrow. Whatever we have, it is God's good pleasure to give and to take away. And He is a loving and kind Father, and He cares tenderly for us.
And the biggest test of this time (besides having no consistent "extras") is that God has not spoken to me or clearly directed me as to what I am to do. I have offered myself to Him as a willing vessel, ready to do whatever He wants me to do. I have told Him I want to work, Austin wants me to work, and I have looked for jobs; and, yet, He is silent. Certainly, there are paths I'm walking down, but still NOTHING is clear—nothing. And so I am in a profound time of living by faith, where God's promises (both biblical, as in, "I have plans to prosper you and not to harm you"; and personal, "I have called you to serve the poor and needy in Dallas") are unfulfilled. I do not see or know the answer, and yet, my future is certain. It is as good as done, for He has promised, and He who has promised is faithful.
I am asking God to take the certainty I know in my head, that He has a plan and He will deliver, and translate it to my impossible heart, so that I live every single day with the intimate, personal, heart knowledge that it is already complete, and so on that day when I get to see what He has planned, it will be no better than the life I live today.