Tempted to Worry

Matthew 6: 31-34 “So do not worry, saying ‘what shall we eat?’ or ‘what shall we drink?’ or ‘what shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore, do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”
In July of 1997, I gave resignation notice to my employer of eight years. I was suffering frequent migraine headaches, had grown increasingly discontent with my job and believed that the time was right to move on. My dilemma was that I was paid a very good salary for the job I performed and I had no immediate prospects for another job. I resigned “on faith” with a strong conviction that I’d find something else quickly with no difficulty. I also looked forward to having a few weeks off to relax while I looked for new employment.
I agreed to stay with my employer until my replacement was on board and trained, which ended up being three more months. During that time a seed of an idea started to form in my mind about a possible business venture. No job leads panned out before I finally left and the vision for this business had continued to grow. I had never done anything but work for a paycheck though. Could I possibly run a business of my own? I didn’t think I could try it alone. Sensing that the whole idea might be from the Lord, I shared my thoughts with a friend and asked her to pray about working together in the venture. We prayed and discussed the possibility often. After a couple of months we took the leap by forming a company and formalizing a business plan. By November we were in full swing preparation to open our business in December. At this point I was excited and optimistic about the future. We saw God’s hand at work as we searched for an affordable location; built our starting inventory and made other arrangements to open. We both felt strongly convicted to resist the temptation to go in to debt in any way to finance our business. I had a small financial reserve to carry me through the next couple of months and didn’t think much beyond that. I was sure that my background in business and accounting would provide an adequate source of income. I also hoped that, contrary to all statistics about new businesses, our store would provide at least a small supplement to my income. No doubts, no fears. God was on our side! We opened in December as planned.
Faith is a basic tenant of the Christian belief system I have subscribed to since my teens when I gave my life to Christ. But faith is easy with a paycheck. Never in my life had I been without a steady source of income until now. By February I was an emotional wreck. I had one regular accounting client that paid me $300.00 per month. My house payment is $650.00. The numbers did not add up. My savings were gone. I had committed to be at our new store 6 days a week from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. This schedule didn’t allow for a second job in my field of expertise. The store I had such high hopes for was covering its own expenses, but there was nothing left over for me. My partner continued to work at her regular job, but was only able to contribute nominal amounts of funds from her budget into the business. No source of cash for me there either. By this time I was convinced that the whole idea was harebrained and that God must be letting me fail for not planning well and for not listening to His voice.
How I was going to pay my next bill became an obsession with me. I began to resent my business partner because she had a job and was doing OK while I was subjected to the stress of living day to day. I put out applications for full time employment, thinking that I would just get a job then deal with how to keep the store open when a job opportunity came up. Several interviews resulted from my employment search, including a some second interviews. Each time I was second choice or my salary requirements could not be met. This was such a frustrating process. I had always found jobs when needed in the past. Did God want me to stay at the store? I prayed constantly about what to do. I continually asked the Lord to open a door for me, and in the meantime kept banging on every door I knew of to try to work something out for myself.
None of my efforts to solve my financial dilemma were working. Still, each month something worked out to cover my bills. Not every provision was what I would have preferred. I discovered that I was a person of great pride and taking gifts and ‘’hand-outs” was extremely humbling for me. But there were loving friends and church family with open hands and hearts to help me financially where I couldn’t help myself. People were referring accounting and tax work to me. I got a call from a colleague at Spokane Falls Community College about teaching a night class for Spring quarter. She recalled that I had taught at Whitworth College before and thought I might be interested. Was I ever! Here was a brief reprieve, but still I worried.
Summer came and with it a request to do an accounting project for my church. I also had two new accounting clients that were referred to me. Still I was living one day at a time. Still I was sending out resumes for full time work. Still I was worrying. In July I got a call from SFCC again. An instructor had cancelled at the last minute for two daytime classes in the fall and I was offered the position. I listened with doubt, thinking I wouldn’t be able to take a job for only two hours in the middle of the day. I wanted to shout and groan at the same time when the I was told the classes were at 7:30 and 8:30 a.m. I could still be at the store by our normal opening time, but the casual sleeping schedule I had become accustomed to over the past several months would be at an end. Praise God. It was work and it came with a paycheck. I accepted the position.
One day as I was recounting to someone the amazing ways that my needs had been met since leaving my job, it occurred to me that all my efforts had been in vain and every financial need had been met through means I did not solicit. I had worried, schemed and complained I had battled with resentment. Yet God had lived up to His promise to feed and clothe me. To my shame I realized I had not lived up to His command to seek first His kingdom. I had been seeking my security. My faith had not been in the promises of God or in His love for me as His child. My faith had been in me and my ability to take care of myself. Stripped of that ability, and having need, my eyes were suddenly opened to the fact that my Heavenly Father had been there all along. He hadn’t provided a month, a week or sometimes even a day in advance, but He had provided what was necessary for each day. While I had been borrowing trouble from tomorrow He had been taking care of today.
It’s easy to second guess what we know to be true when trials come and circumstances are difficult. I really did know that God gave me the vision for our business and, at least for now, He wants me to be here taking care of it. When my situation became uncomfortable I didn’t want to believe that God was making me struggle, so I told myself I must have heard wrong in the first place. God wasn’t making me struggle. I was struggling against His command to live by faith. I had lived not understanding that faith and uncertainty are partners. We do not have to trust for what we see, but for what we don’t see.
Sometimes I’m still tempted to worry about the future, which may be as close at the due date of the electric bill. I don’t know how my financial needs will be provided for. But I know I don’t have to fret or fear. “For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal”. 2 Corinthians 4:17-18. When I remember God’s faithfulness over this past year, my heart fills with peace and confidence that I can be about the business He’s given me and He’ll continue to provide as He has all along.