Did you read the first article? Putting God First - The Pain of Arm's Length
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As a child, like most children, I knew everything about everything. As I grew older that started to fade. As a sometimes stubborn mule, I still think I know more than I really do. So when a sermon came along in the last year about putting God and my trust in him first, for many reasons, that was a leap of faith like no other. My partner, Grace, and I had many conversations about it before throwing the mechanism into gear.
What was the potential problem?
Along with my slightly over-inflated ego came issues that were plaguing our lives, wait… issues that plague our lives (as they still do, but do not have as much impact because we’re now putting God first). Those issues include extreme financial stress, broken health, the need to provide for a child and bouts with environmental factors.
I thought my partner and I were the only ones who could plan for the safety and future of our family. So when we heard a message in church that it was time to trust someone else’s judgement and care, God or otherwise, we became almost as confused and apprehensive as a Purdue fan at an IU basketball party (or the other way around).
How could we possibly let someone else take over our path to a brighter future? We knew our own previous mistakes and where they led. We knew our then current situation and it’s challenges. What we didn’t know as well then, or I should say, “who”… that was God. We’d not completely tested the trust we should have had for him. At best, we were in the dark about the results of putting him first.
What shifted the balance?
Everything in our lives was uncertain. My new photography venture has been a slow start, as any art tends to be these days. We've been trying to figure out our living situation, financially and geographically. My partner’s mother had not yet met our baby due to distance and health issues. Almost everything that makes a life on earth, for us, is often delicately and precariously balanced. After about four months of daily talks about how to shift our family into forward mode, we felt almost as confused as we had before we started.
We’re not naive, lazy or too slow. The issue of difficult decision making only comes form being drawn into exceptional challenges, then given the unusual gifts to overcome them, but not having enough guidance or wisdom. The lives we live are almost surreal and we wanted (and still want) to make that worth something, to use it to help guide ourselves, our daughter and as many of our Godly brothers and sisters as possible.
So by the time this sermon about putting God first came about, we had a sense of our potential power over something big. We were also beginning to sense, but not to understand how that power was big enough to need guidance from someone of far greater wisdom than any human. We’d read books, talked up a storm with friends, gone to therapy, asked advice form many different channels and even came to some (what we thought were) final decisions, but none of it was strong enough to give us sufficient confidence.
That’s the way life is right? Do your best planning without ever being fully confident that you made the right decision. I used to think that was stone-set wisdom, until this new chapter of my life unfolded. Now, the biggest decisions are more often a matter of simply letting God run the show.
When we heard the sermon and it’s message, “Put God first and everything else will fall in line.”, we came away with this; maybe it was time for the gamble, and maybe, it wasn’t even a gamble at all. Maybe our heavenly Father and his team of experts (the rest of the Holy Trinity, the angels, saints, etc) had our backs, but only if we took a breath, relaxed, surrendered control and handed him the reins.
How did things go after that?
Different. Instantly, considerably, utterly, blindingly… different. In fact, it got downright weird.
We started receiving information from all over, clear signs of what we should start doing. We heard messages in sermons that specifically had undeniable, direct connections to the decisions we were trying to make. I don’t mean hearing something like, “treat others well and good relationships will build”, then doing it and having nice people become friends.
I mean things like trying to decide whether to stay in the midwest or travel to Los Angeles to spend time with family and beef up my photography and writing business. Then shortly after, going to a sermon that talked about following a calling, taking a leap of faith and making big life changes, while scores of videos and images of traveling west were shown on huge screens in the background.
Before that trip, we had a member of a prayer team speak with us about finding the right path. As she did, she prayed about some of the exact, very specific questions we had, but had not told her about. And we prayed for daily guidance from God while we were to be on the road.
That trip started my documentary. In strange ways, we were led to different churches and people along the way. We came across an uncanny amount of right-place-right-time moments that gave me some highly unusual photography and writing opportunities.
We just “happened” to meet people who discouraged us from some of our own plans, only to lead us to much better opportunities. Not even the most informed travel agent could have planned such a trip. Many of the events that we witnessed were either completely unplanned, or unexpectedly modified at the last minute themselves, so there was no human prediction of each occurrence.
Was it just about the cross country trip?
No. The trip took five weeks out, 3.5 months stay in LA and 3 weeks back. We did not start or end with a large budget. We found deals that were unusual and received help we never expected.
As of the time of this article’s original release, about a year had passed since we made the change of putting God first. Since then, the number of profound and significant events has only increased. Our minds are constantly blown with synchronicities and unplanned, hugely beneficial happenings. We meet people who seem to just fit into our story and end up with very similar stories to our own. We see unusual signs that we’re taken care of and are traveling the right path.
We constantly meet people and have conversations with them that correlate directly to information we found just beforehand. For example, a few days before writing this, a friend of ours gave us a great idea. She talked about how more and more people are praying for their child's future husband or wife. The next day, for the first time, I met a woman at our library who told me the story about how her daughter got married to a guy she really likes and who treats her daughter well. She said it may have had to do with the fact that she prayed for him from the time her daughter was very young.
We’ve been given insight into how God does what he does, learning more and more about how his system works. Read, Being a Conduit for more info.
You sound a bit nutty
Well I am a bit nutty, but that doesn't mean my views here are invalid or technically inaccurate. In fact, what I’ve learned through the use of my very analytical, often skeptical, data driven mind is this; crazy is not going against a grain that’s shaped without the presence of God. It’s not standing up and announcing that I see signs and wonders and that God has changed my life by his own hand. "Nutty" is not recognizing that our life’s scenarios often come straight out of the books of the Bible….
"Crazy" is living under tremendous, often disguised levels of pain and loss without even trying to connect to God. "Crazy" is the denial of a Father and his son that have the power to love us so strongly, we could find joy while hovering in the midst of life’s worst. "Crazy" is justifying the loss of the most sincere truth and love we could ever have, out of the fear of how we look to others. Crazy, to me, is never putting God first and never getting to experience the profound, bright and most of all, natural path we’re all built to be on.
There is no loss in trying
There is more loss in not trying. There is trust in putting God first. He has the bird's eye view that we can't possibly understand. Therefore he knows where resources belong. He knows where to best plug us into our lives and our futures, our relationships and our ventures. And no, contrary to popular misconception, you won't just end up as a wooly, white, four-legged creature, calling out "Bahhhh" every time God commands.
Even when we do his work and put him first, we end up with the return on investment and the free will to use it. In other words, god Gives back and he gives us the freedom to enjoy the benefits. Everything else does fall in line when we put him first. And, in the end, we don't just benefit from the great experiences we have a long the way. We get even more plugged into an eternal future and a place of completion, balance and fellowship.
Did you read the first article? Here it is, Putting God First - The Pain of Arm's Length
Next week will bring the resource article.