This is a guest post by Pam, who shares how her self-reliance and desire to feel financially secure prevented her from fully trusting God. When an unexpected turn of events forced her family to close down their business and declare bankruptcy, God revealed what it meant to fully rely on and trust in Him. Pam’s faith made it possible for her to persevere through a difficult time and for God to use her circumstances to transform her from self-reliant to God-reliant! Her story is a testament that true security comes not from our own efforts, but from our one true God.
My life wouldn’t look “broken” to an outsider – I was raised in a strong Christian home, accepted Jesus at an early age, and was a fairly happy, good kid and well-adjusted young adult. I didn’t even think it was broken myself, but the “cracks” had started to form as soon as I got old enough to learn about being responsible.
I was taught that if I saved my money, planned ahead, and did everything “right,” both morally and ethically, then things would turn out okay and I’d have a comfortable, trouble-free life. Looking back, I now realize that the times I thought I was being prudent I was really being self-reliant. What I believed was a healthy respect for preparation was actually an addiction to the feeling of security. I wanted assurance that I would always have money in the bank, a roof over my head, and that things would go as planned. I thought I trusted God, but it wasn’t until my self-reliance and security were threatened that I was forced to put that trust to the test.
When I got married, I knew my husband’s dream was to open a food business similar to the one his great-grandparents had owned for decades. Despite my misgivings about the financial insecurity of business ownership, I agreed and we purchased a small neighborhood bakery. Our customers loved our products, but there weren’t enough of them to keep income steady. In addition, we discovered that the previous owner had been taking shortcuts to get around various fees and taxes. By doing things “right,” as I’d been trained to do, we ended up paying those fees and taxes, which landed us in a financial hole. We also made some foolish decisions with the best of intentions, such as withdrawing retirement savings to keep paying employees. When we no longer had enough money to pay our mortgage and I was forced to ask for help from our church, I realized that my security blanket was gone and I could not rely on my own careful planning.
After six years of greater and greater losses, we had to close the bakery and declare bankruptcy. The day the bank that held our house as collateral for our business loan delivered a Notice of Intent to Foreclose, I called a housing services agency, left a voicemail, and then sobbed harder than I’d ever done in my life. It was the death of my security. I could no longer be self-reliant. I had nothing left except my foundation as a believer, which caused me to cry out to God for help. I was devastated, but I clung to the truth that God is faithful.
“Because of the Lord’s great love for us we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness.” Lamentations 3:22-23, NIV
God heard my cry and intervened to save us from the results of our own poor decisions. Through another mom from our church, He led us to a bankruptcy attorney with integrity and affordable fees, which my in-laws were gracious enough to pay. We were able to keep the house and renegotiate our loan, and while we are still paying off debt, there is light at the end of the tunnel. I am confident that God will never leave us, and this confidence gives me hope in the darkness.
God taught me many important lessons from this experience, mainly not to obsess over my own security. Every morning when my mind fills up with “to do’s,” instead of rushing into planning mode, I consciously give them to the Lord. “This is Your conversation, Lord. Please guide me in what to say.” “This is Your project, God. Please lead me through the steps involved.” Even, “This is Your Target run. Please keep me on task so I don’t end up with an over-full cart!” With every “This is Your…” statement, I can feel my load lighten and His peace wash over me.
“Don’t worry about anything. No matter what happens, tell God about everything. Ask and pray, and give thanks to him. Then God’s peace will watch over your hearts and your minds. He will do this because you belong to Christ Jesus. God’s peace can never be completely understood.” Philippians 4:6-7, NIRV
The key message I want to share is that our security doesn’t come from our own efforts – it comes from being a child of the One True God. Only He provides for us and He knows what we need before we even ask. Trust in Him, cast your anxieties upon Him, and seek to put His kingdom first. He will take care of the rest.
“Then Jesus spoke to his disciples. He said, “I tell you, do not worry. Don’t worry about your life and what you will eat. And don’t worry about your body and what you will wear. There is more to life than eating. There are more important things for the body than clothes. Think about the ravens. They don’t plant or gather crops. They don’t have any barns at all. But God feeds them. You are worth much more than birds! Can you add even one hour to your life by worrying? You can’t do that very little thing. So why worry about the rest? Don’t spend time thinking about what you will eat or drink. Don’t worry about it. People who are ungodly run after all those things. Your Father knows that you need them. But put God’s kingdom first. Then those other things will also be given to you.” Luke 12:22-26, 29-31, NIRV
If you would like to reach out to Pam, please leave a comment below or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org. If God has changed YOUR life, please consider sharing your story to change someone else’s life! To share your story, e-mail me with “Broken to Beautiful Transformation” in the subject line and I will follow up with you. Thank you.