Tuesday, September 8, 2009

so that we might model in humilty...

For a long time I attributed the financial challenges we had to the industry in which we labored. We were in sales, owning our own real estate business. When the economy first started showing signs of a downturn with real estate revealing the first indications, we hoped that it was a short season and believed we would weather the storm. We had not the life experience of down-turned market. We just hoped for the best and sought out wisdom and council. The encouragement we received aligned with our own thoughts about buckling down, spending less, and remaining strong through this challenge. We wrongly assessed the severity of the downturn and while, we had no debt, $30,000 in savings and a consistent 5 figure monthly income, it was not enough to carry us through.

Our saving disappeared within months, our debt rose to $50,000. We decided to sell our home, cut our losses and start anew. We listed our home for sale, waiting for a buyer, but the equity we had in our home was gone within a month as the market continued to plummet. We felt as though we had the rug pulled out from under us and we were struggling to catch our breath. We had no more room on our credit cards and our income was pretty much non-existent. We saw our only option was bankruptcy. There was no way we could recover from the hit we were taking in a time frame that would be passable.

The road of bankruptcy was laden with guilt and shame, especially since we did not personally know anyone who filed because of a failed business in a bear market. The only people I knew who filed bankruptcy had done so promptly after running up their credit cards, buying enough toys to fill a shop. While our friends and family were supportive, we were really the first in many of our friends' lives to hit financial devastation so they were not really sure how to encourage us. Awkward support through veiled judgments was the majority. But, as we met God in our quiet times, we felt nothing but love, compassion, and acceptance. We received powerful words of life in that season that will be a treasure for years to come. Though we felt the shame of failure, He clothed us with beauty for ashes. He sifted through the ash of our burned out life and salvaged our most precious treasures and uncovered a legacy that would not be tarnished by fire.

Matthew was offered a job at the Rock of Roseville, our church, right when our income was about to completely run out. We did not have to go without food due to the love and support our friends provided in that season. Though we were making about 1/4 of our prior income, we were so grateful for the Lord's provision in giving Matthew the job at the Rock. (We actually ended up earning in 2006 what we tithed in 2005.) We moved in with my mother and her husband who graciously opened their home to us for 15 months. We paid off some of the debts we felt called to pay off, though we had technically been "forgiven" by the bankruptcy, and paid off a tax debt of $16,000 not forgiven in the bankruptcy. We established a savings again. 5 months ago we moved to rent a small house about 1/3 of the size of our prior home.

It has been 2 years, nearly to the day, from our bankruptcy settlement. In my quiet time today, I felt the Lord say, "Did you ever wonder why you were a forerunner in this economic crisis?" Again, I say I thought we were some of the first casualties because of the industry in which we labored. What He said next surprised me but at the same time resounded with truth in my heart. He sent us ahead so that those around us who would travel the same road would have a soft landing, a place of peace. He "shot us out of a canon", a prophetic word given to us by Bill Norton in 2001, so that we might model His love and grace to a weak and faithless generation. Like a comet in the sky we led the way for many, our failures "on display" so that those around might see the glory of God. We shone as put-out ash being breathed upon to reveal fire inside. For that, I am grateful the Lord used us and am glad for the road down which he led us. For us, there is no other road but the straight and narrow.