One of the Best Christmas Gifts Ever!
The Arnold’s received one of the best Christmas gifts ever this year. However, prior to sharing, let me give a bit of prospective on “boasting”. Jeremiah 9:23-24 (NIV) says:
23This is what the Lord says:
“Let not the wise man boast of his wisdom
or the strong man boast of his strength
or the rich man boast of his riches,
24but let him who boasts boast about this:
that he understands and knows me,
that I am the Lord, who exercises kindness,
justice and righteousness on earth,
for in these I delight,”
declares the Lord.
So, I wrestled a bit with whether to share this story and have landed on the side of this is “boasting” about our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Keeping that prospective let me begin the story which originated a few years ago.
In October 2008, I lost my corporate position with all the nice “worldly” perks. While we weren’t living an extravagant life, let’s just say we were comfortably living a six figure income lifestyle. I’ll save the story leading up to my departure for another day, however, what’s important to today’s story is a couple of things. First, as many may be able to relate, I have a control issue when it comes to my life and, I lost control of my life that day. Second, a cornerstone verse came to my wife, Lisa, that day as I walked in the door. Philippians 4:6-7 (NIV) says: “6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” So, since that day, we’ve been on a continual journey of placing our faith and trust in Christ while watching our “net worth” plummet as I continue to try to take back control.
Fast forwarding to February 2011, we were at a pivotal point where cash flow was extremely tight and I needed some answers. While I’d had varying success operating a coaching and consulting business, it simply wasn’t enough to maintain the lifestyle our family had grown accustom. While I’ll save the entire story for later, I had one of those moments where the Holy Spirit showed up in Truth@Work meeting. During a prayer a member spoke a prophetic word which was, “This man is being called into ministry and it’s to use his business experience in the church.” Still today, this calling is unfolding however, walking away from that meeting, it was clear that I was to take a draw from my 401K to continue to fund daily needs while seeking His will for my next steps.
So life is moving on, we’re divesting assets and watching our net worth decline, and I’m praying daily “please give me clarity of my next steps”. My journal is packed full of multiple memorable moments along the way which I’ll likely capture in a book someday. For today, our next stop are the events of March 2012 which relate to the picture in this blog post and here it is. Our family attends Trader Point Christian Church (TPCC) in Indianapolis, IN. During March 2012, we had a building campaign, Generous Giants, with a series on stewardship. One of the things that stood out to Lisa and I was the aspect of “sacrificial giving”. You see, for years we’ve tithed and given, however, it’s historically been out of abundance. In our prayer and conversations leading up to the day of commitment, Lisa and I were feeling called to really stretch on our commitment and trust in Him to provide. We agreed upon an amount and also committed to a percentage of income over and above this amount assuming He blessed us with abundance. On March 25, 2012, we walked up to the alter and placed our contribution card in the tube feeling a sense of peace that we were honoring Him with our obedience.
That following Tuesday, I went to TPCC’s website to check the calendar to insure our upcoming Truth@Work meeting was on it. When I pulled up the website, the picture above was on the front page. Yes, if you haven’t guessed by now, that is Lisa and my hand placing our commitment card into the tube. As I viewed the picture, I felt so blessed and was in tears as I heard my Lord say, “well done, now continue to trust me.”
Now, the first of July 2012, cash flow is once again extremely tight. The first week of July, I committed to a specific prayer asking that God would make clear to me what I needed to do with respect to cash flow by Monday, July 9, 2012. On Sunday, July 8th, God answered this prayer in a way I never could have even imagined. But first, we must go back a few years.
In 2004, Lisa has a pulmonary embolism (blood clot in lung) which are often fatal and she survived. In spite of extensive testing, we never could determine the root cause leaving only one option which was birth control pills. A few years later, we saw advertisements regarding lawsuits against the drug company for blood clots. We’re not lawsuit types of people, however, something prompted us at the time to pursue this further. While we knew there might be some money associated with the lawsuit, we never really expected it to be much and we’re primarily interested in holding the drug company accountable. While we had a few phone calls from the attorney’s office over the course of the past couple years, it wasn’t something we found ourselves reflecting on. July 6, 2012 my father had back surgery at the same hospital Lisa was admitted in 2004 and I found myself sitting in his room reflecting on the events of 2004 wondering when we might hear something on the lawsuit. Then, on Sunday, July 8, 2012 after church we received a phone call that will forever change our lives. It was from our attorney and she needed for us to authorize a minimum dollar amount for the settlement. While it wouldn’t be appropriate for me to share the amount, let me just say we were floored when we heard it. While it wasn’t a guarantee, I knew it was God’s answer to my prayer I was seeking prior to that following Monday.
Well, as things happen with lawsuits, an agreement wasn’t met that next week as hoped. That was OK from our stand point as we truly felt His presence in this situation. Whether we received a settlement or not, we knew that He had told us, “it’s going to be OK, you can trust me.” Then, on September 19th, we received a call letting us know that a settlement had been reached in the order of magnitude as the amount we previously had agreed. So, with this settlement, we would not only be able to meet our minimum commitment to the Generous Giants building campaign, but we will far exceed this amount over the entire three year commitment period. Praise God! However, while there was a settlement, we still didn’t know when to expect the funds and really didn’t know the net settlement amount to expect.
So, this post started out by saying “One of the Best Christmas Gifts Ever!” By now, you may have guessed that we received the funds at Christmas. Yes, in a way that was symbolic of our relationship, I felt prompted to pull up our bank account just prior to leaving for TPCC’s Christmas Eve services and was surprised to find His gift to us deposited that day. While I would love to tell you that this was a “bonus” and that we are able to use it for all kinds of neat things, it really funds an even better story. After tithes, offerings, taxes, paying off credit card debt, and buying our 16 yr old son a used car, we still have a small amount in the bank to allow the ramp up of our Truth@Work ministry and wherever God leads us in the weeks, months, and year ahead.
While we’re still early in our journey, what we do know is that our faith has grown exponentially over the past few years. While not always, there are more and more times which we have a Philippians 4:7 experience, “And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” To the best of our ability, we’re committed daily to Matthew 6:33, “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”
So, with our story today, let me ask you: “What are you holding on too tight to today which you need to turn over control to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ?” If you would like to discuss further what this looks like, please feel free to contact me at any time.