The Little Work Book: Chapter 3
God Is Your Provider
After my release from prison in 1993, I was confident that my greatest challenges were behind me. I thought I’d easily adjust back into society, find a job, and in short order be well on my way to getting my life back on track. But I soon found out reality had other ideas.
Everything turned out to be a lot more difficult than expected. In prison, the pace was slow, there weren’t many choices, and few of them were all that difficult. On the outside, there seemed to be important decisions at every turn, and everyone seemed to be moving faster than I could think. I wanted the world to slow down, but I couldn’t change the pace. I knew I had to get up to speed or get left behind.
During my time in prison, I had learned to depend on God to get me through. So I decided to take the same approach with this new life of freedom as well. And the first lesson I needed to learn was that God was my provider.
Matthew 6:33 (NLT)
Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.
For me, this meant that I was to do my best to keep God first and to do things in the manner He would have me do them.
I was in the perfect situation to put this lesson to the test. I didn’t have any special skills for the sort of work that now was available to me. Prior to prison, I’d been in sales for most of my working life. But I was sure the Lord was leading me away from that, so I would have to learn to do something new. Another big hurdle I was facing was making restitution on a half million dollars in debt. To fulfill the requirements of my parole, I needed to bring home a little over fifteen hundred a month. At the time this stipulation was made, I thought that would be the easy part, but after getting home and searching around, the only job I could find paid less than seven dollars an hour.
At first, I was thankful because minimum wage in 1993 was over two dollars less than that. Then I did the math and realized that I wouldn’t be coming close to the amount I was expected to earn each month. Needless to say, it didn’t take long before my thanksgiving turned into complaint-giving.
“Lord, this isn’t going to work. I need more money. I need a better job. I’m not going to make it.”
Do you have food to eat? Do you have a roof over your head? Do you prefer to be back in prison?
“Yes, I have food and a roof, and no I do not want to be back in prison.”
Then be thankful for what I have provided, trust me, and see what happens.
It wasn’t the answer from God I was hoping for, but I decided to obey. I decided to be thankful every day I worked, work hard for my $6.50 an hour, and trust God.
A year passed, and I got a pay raise to $9.00 an hour. While part of me was still anxious for something better to come along, I thanked the Lord for the increase and continued to be obedient to what He told me to do.
The following year, the Lord led me to a different job that paid $15.00 per hour, and the year after that to a different employer who more than doubled my wage. In 1998, five years after my release, I was able to start my own business and in my first year cleared over $90,000.
Three years later, the half million in debt was gone.
During all that time, there were many ways that God provided that had nothing to do with what I was able to earn. For one, He had my wife in a good job, and her income kept us afloat and basic needs met. For another, when I first got out of prison, a family kindly let us live with them for a while, further reducing our expenses during our leanest times. On two occasions, we needed transportation and were given vehicles by friends who noticed. We were often invited for meals. People gave us things we needed when we needed them. People even gave us things we didn’t need just to encourage us. In the end, I didn’t even have to pay off the entire debt. Yes, I paid back large sums, but large sums were also forgiven. God worked through a variety of ways to take care of everything. He wasn’t limited by my earning power.
But back in 1993, I didn’t know any of this. I thought I’d be in debt the rest of my life. All I saw was long hours at a hard labor job with a modest check at the end of the week. All I had to hope on was the promise that God would take care of me if I put my trust in Him. But I didn’t know how He was going to provide. I didn’t know that the debt would be behind me in seven short years. I didn’t know that I would one day own my own business. He was the one with all the solutions, and they were far better than anything I could have come up with. All I had to do was get out of bed, go to work, and be thankful.
So I would like to challenge you to do the same, to get honest with yourself and ask yourself the following questions:
Can I make myself get out of bed every day?
Can I make myself go to work?
Can I thank God for His provision?
I’m not asking you to want to get out of bed or want to go to work or want to be thankful, I’m just asking if you can make yourself. If you find you can, then in the next chapters I’ll share with you how to find a job, advance in your work, and develop a successful career.