I wish you could walk a mile in my shoes. If you could, maybe, just maybe, the walls of skepticism in your life about God might come crumbling down; if not crumble, at least dismantle brick by brick. I am a cynic so I can relate with you. Believing in God might not be the easiest thing to do. Maybe you’ve tried church and only became more convinced that God would be easier to believe in if it weren’t for “Christians”. You want proof. You’ve read or heard Bible stories about God parting the Red Sea and making the sun stand still and Jesus feeding five thousand and healing the cripple. Nice stories, you think, but that’s all they are…stories…until it becomes real to you. Until you get backed into a corner, at the end of your own rope and your child is going to die. The doctors can’t do anything. You can’t do anything. If you had $10 million you would give it to save your child, but no amount of money can buy a cure. Then something inside of you whispers, “Come to me.” You know it’s God and with nowhere else to turn, you go to Him. You give Him a real shot. You genuinely seek Him and He responds to you in such an earthshattering way that the Red Sea thing is small potatoes. He gives you the peace to know that if your child does die, you will be ok anyway. Then from that point forward faith is the easiest thing in the world for you because God moved a mountain in your life. The Bible stories are nice, but He just wrote a new story with you. You stop seeing things as coincidences and recognize them as God playing connect the dots in your life. You see them as God’s love and His plan and provision for your life. If you haven’t guessed, the “you” in this story was once me until God broke through my walls. Now all of this has been background landscaping to help you as I take you somewhere else while you are in my shoes (are they comfy? I’ve tried to break them in for you). I want to share with you how I’ve seen God recently connect the dots for me. You might call it all a coincidence. I once would have. But once blind, now I see. We have to go back over 3 years.
Three years ago my business was strong. Tied to the real estate market, I had been prospering for over 15 years. So when my best friend, Earl called and asked me to help him start a roofing company, I dismissed it. (dot 1) I was busy and also confident that I didn’t have anything to contribute to him. A year passed and the economy began to slow. I told my wife that I felt like God was stirring something inside of me, but I didn’t know what, except that I sensed it related to business. (dot 2) When you finally accept that God is real, you know that He does get inside of you and starts messing around. Three days went by and Earl called. We normally spoke several times a week, but he hadn’t mentioned the roofing idea again in a year. This time he did. (dot 3) This time I listened. In a little over 2 years we took a brand new company from nothing to one of the highest respected roofing companies in the area on the Better Business Bureau and Angie’s List. Earl recognized something in me that I never would have given myself credit for…in spite of knowing nothing about roofing except that I don’t like being on them, I am good with people and had the potential to provide excellent customer service. He was right. We won the Angie’s List Super Service Award our first 2 years in business. About a year into the roofing business, the economy really tanked and the revenues from my real estate business which I was still maintaining slumped to half of what my family needed, but the roofing company made up the difference. (dot 4) Do you see how God provided? When Earl first asked, I didn’t need the extra income, but God knew a day was coming and He stirred me enough to take notice when Earl asked me again. This time I still didn’t have any more confidence that I was the right man for the job, but I was confident in God who was leading the way. Although my season with the roofing company ended, these 2 years were an excellent training ground for me in marketing and customer service and it also gave my self-esteem a boost. (dot 5)
When I left the roofing company it was for personal reasons, not because I had made my millions and was packing my bags for Maui. I still needed income to compensate for my declining real estate business. I know what you are thinking. Leave a job in this economy? How stupid are you? You have no idea. But it was the right decision. I have no doubt…now. For several weeks I questioned the decision as I worried about my ability to provide for my family. I don’t think there’s anything scarier for a middle aged man than the fear of not being able to take care of his family. Death doesn’t have a grip on me like this fear does. At least death provides life insurance. But this experience etched permanent lessons into my mind and lasting changes in my heart. (dot 6) I’ve read a lot of business and personal finance books and they were great for acquiring knowledge, but unapplied knowledge is foolishness. I’ve been a fool and God used the only thing that could teach me…pain. My son is just like me, poor fella. He will not believe me when I tell him that his oatmeal is too hot to eat until I tell him to touch it with his finger. But I will not allow past mistakes to be repeated. When you hit bottom it is a great time and place to rebuild a better foundation. I will be wiser financially and stop living like there is no tomorrow. I will work to be better prepared for fluctuations in the economy so as to not put my family in peril. As for my heart, I have been humbled. For over 20 years I have been a business owner, the CEO, President, Top Dog of a thriving company. I’ve made a great living doing an office job and I took it all for granted. Recent events have made me realize how hard it can be to scrape out a living. When you call a friend, another business owner and tell him that you are willing to do manual labor for just over minimum wage, the chip is no longer on your shoulder. And when your brother in law calls you and says that his deck needs to be pressure-washed and stained and he’s willing to pay you, you don’t hesitate to say yes and thank you. You reach a point in which you swallow the humble pie and become willing to do anything, as long as it’s legal and moral, to put beans and rice on the table. A new found gratitude for every dollar God gives you is a valuable tool to possess when rebuilding your future.
So during this time, I worried, I prayed and I executed on all that I knew to do. One day recently a client came to me and said that much of the work I did for him was falling through due to banks not approving loans (no fault of mine) and that he would have to do more of his own work to keep his costs down. I was not upset with him because I know that he cares for me like a son; he just had to make a business decision. I still drove home frustrated about the situation. So I vented to God, “You’ve got to show me something!” (dot 7) I instantly felt shame because why should God have to show me anything? He gave my daughter life. But I also know that as a father I don’t condemn my kids when they come to me for things that weigh them down. As a good father I want to help and I know that God is soooo much better a Father than me and He didn’t mind my little outburst. The condemnation I felt was self-inflicted like always. Ok, now wake up, because this is all about to get super cool and I don’t want you to miss it.
The very next morning at 9:30 am I received a phone call from a friend. This friend owns a successful business and his company was in the midst of interviewing candidates for a position. He said that God woke him up at 5:30am, way earlier that his alarm clock was set, and put my name in his mind. Bazinga! (dot 8). We met for lunch a couple of hours later. Why tarry when God is playing connect the dots with you? He ultimately offered me the job and made it crystal clear that this was not a charity case; he truly felt I was the best person to fill the position. I believe him. He’s too smart to put his company at risk by bringing in someone who he didn’t think was the best candidate.
A couple of the super cool things about this situation: this new job at its core is very similar to the skills I learned and sharpened with the roofing company even though it’s an entirely different industry (God was preparing me); this company has an extremely promising future and if I mind my p’s and q’s, so will I; my friend said that he’d been thinking about filling this position for a year but the timing was never right. I replied that I didn’t need the job a year ago. And the most dramatic way that I know God’s big ol’ hand print is all over this opportunity…it fully meets my financial needs. I was already mentally and emotionally prepared to work 3 or 4 jobs or whatever it took to make ends meet, but this deal fell from the sky and landed on my head. God is so good.
Looking back I could be upset about leaving the roofing company, until I look with a grateful heart. For 2 years the roofing company provided the income that was missing from my real estate business and I learned and developed a new skill that prepared me for a subsequent golden opportunity. I also helped a friend. That feels good. Looking back I can see how I might have gotten upset about my real estate client taking back some of his work, but had that not happened, I might not have gotten frustrated and cried out to God. Then God might not have woken up my friend at 5:30 am the next day with my name on his mind. Most importantly, I once again got to see the Hand of God move in my life which demonstrates how much He loves me. And do you want to know a beautiful truth? He loves you just as much and He’s probably already been playing connect the dots for you, too. You just have to see them and stop calling them coincidences.