A True ... of the Journey from ... Poverty to Riches Beyond Measure Having been ... with all the ... of a virtuous woman, Granny also lived in our home (a survivor of
A True Testimony of the Journey from Spiritual Poverty to Riches Beyond Measure
Having been raised/programmed with all the principals of a virtuous woman, Granny also lived in our home (a survivor of the Great Depression). Additionally, with four siblings, eight to nine people lived in our house at any given time. Parents being in mission work, we were also the 'home away from home' for uncounted numbers of leaders and missionaries.
Every which way we turned, there were lessons on being frugal - for which, funds always stretched just a little further. Also being first born, I was the closest to a big brother there was in our home. It seemed normal to carry over roles of care-taking/protector responsibilities into adult life. Neither did it help that the man I married came from a well-to-do family, for which we would not be accepted due to our financial standing.
Having already come through an abusive relationship, I concluded that if I just did all the right things, I'd never have to live like that again. Unknowingly, I placed myself in captivity to legalism.
Thus, from a variety of sources and pressures, I became a work-aholic. Religious training didn't afford the option of working outside the home. But, it did provide perhaps every feasible thing imaginable to save or make money while at home.
Among feats of putting in 16 hrs. per day for 16 yrs.; I was a foster parent to 12 children, a piano teacher, a baby-sitter, a professional rebater, groceries were not bought without a double coupon (stores hated to see me coming and I hated going - $369 worth of groceries for $53 & then to come home and match rebates was more work than any laundry day I ever saw). I held yard sales, sold craft items, even collected people's left over rummage. Being an idea person, there was no end of ways on how to turn nickels into dimes. If my husband so much as bought a 10 cent candy bar, he was dead meat - as 'spending money' just wasn't there.
I could keep a column going on how to make a Kleenex last for three uses; how to reuse scrap paper; how to make your own Christmas post cards and name tags; how to use your talents to never have to buy presents again; and, what to do with most every piece of trash - besides trash it (to name a few).
In spite of the recession, in every way, we appeared to have 3 times our income. Though, it was impossible to make a budget with funds that weren't there and no one was the wiser. Through the years, what seemed never ending was being slammed (financially and otherwise) to such a degree that, before we could get up from one crisis, another would hit. And, no matter what image we could portray, it was never enough to become worthy in my husband's family's eyes.
Then came the day a friend, from our church, offered to do some remodeling for us. He needed the money, and we could get projects done due to the cheep rate he offered. We'd also seen that he was capable of doing good work.
It was a long story that ended with the interior of our house looking like a construction demolition sight, leaving us; $30,000 in debt for mostly destroyed materials, with an estimate of $240,000 in repairs and replacements, attorneys who wanted our case but said 'you can't get blood our of a turnip', an insurance agent and an insurance adjuster who lied and bailed on us, and an unsafe house to live in.
In addition, my husband's 15 yr. job was going down the tubes due to the administration's theft of funds. Income, hours, and benefits were being cut left and right. It wasn't even possible to file bankruptcy, as we couldn't afford the price of rent.
The hurt was much deeper than material things. It attacked my identity, took away my cover for a low self-esteem, and left me feeling broken and defiled that such a person we'd cared for, ministered to, and helped had done such a thing.
16 yrs. of labor was gone. I was 16 yrs. older than when we began. Being emotionally beyond spent, I just couldn't do it again. I would have been institutionalized before I'd have gotten up to try just one more time.
Finally completely defeated (I guess it takes more to bring down the strong), there was nothing left to do but get on my knees and ask God to give me something to hang on to - as there was nothing left inside of me. I couldn't hang on any more.
God took me down memory lane, reminding me of past experiences ... how we got married, not having yet found a place we could afford to rent and how God had provided a nice place (based upon our income) within two weeks thereafter ... how, when we moved to another state and couldn't find a place to rent that would allow children, He made a way for us to purchase a house we wouldn't have thought we could afford (sellers even helped finance the closing) ... and how, when we moved into houses that still echoed once we moved in, God filled them.
God promised there would be another house, bigger still yet, and that He would do that for us, again.
Always knowing, in my head, that we couldn't even breathe without God, I had found it difficult to give God all the credit in my heart - being that I'd worked sooooo hard! Seeing how God had been there when I hadn't recognized it as Him, I believed Him when He said He would do it, again. (After all, God had a good track record.)
So, this time, I did an about face and decided to let Him do it. All along, I'd been carrying a weight that wasn't mine to carry and I was, finally, giving it back to God. No more ideas, at all. I didn't want that load anymore!!!
With that promised and settled in my heart, suddenly, anger overwhelmed me. Once before, already being active in church, the question had come to mind, "What does Satan think we would do if he just left us alone? What is he so afraid of that he just keeps picking on us?"
I didn't know the answer, but determined I was going to find out and get even. I would take care of God's business and let Him take care of mine. Whatever God had showed me to do, that I'd put off to a better day - I would do. Whatever, God showed me to do now - I would do. What ever God showed me to do next, I would do. I would do, and do, and do, and do until I found what Satan was so afraid of. And, when I found it, I would do it. Then, Satan would be sorry he ever messed with me!
Suddenly, I realized that nothing I'd ever learned in any church, great or small, had taught me how to overcome these battles. When attempting to seek council from those thought to be spiritual, I would be shunned. In time, I came to understand that they didn't know the answers. Thus, I learned to suffer such attacks, from Satan, silently.
Verses preached hadn't worked either. They must not mean what people think they mean. Evidently, only God knows how to defeat Satan. I determined that, if I sought God's will and instruction on every given matter, it would be impossible to fail - as Satan can't defeat God. Therefore, I decided to erase my training and start over (as a little child, ye must be born again to enter the Kingdom of God) and bring my every question to God.
(I know that's not the way man teaches it - but follow on.)
The law made nothing perfect, but the bringing in of a better hope did, by which we draw nigh unto God. Hebrews 7:19
When verses spoke to me, THEN that was God speaking. And, since man's interpretation hadn't worked, I would research God's word for definition of those words ... soon learning that God is His own best commentator!
Having begun seeing the Bible in a new way, I'd search like a detective, looking for How-To's (calling them "Master's Tools"). There's a promise of God's Word not returning void. So, whenever we'd be advertising a program or church event, I'd look for a supporting verse.
Then, without proper tools to find a verse I needed, I spent two weeks, 14 hrs. per day, searching. I couldn't give up, as that would mean Satan had won. God promises, if we seek Him with our whole heart, He'll reveal Himself to us.
Suddenly, the Bible came to life! I could actually hear the words and they spoke to my heart! For the first time, I understood the Bible! It spoke to me in my language!!!
For the next several months, I wouldn't put God's word down. There where so many promises, Master's tools, and lessons to be learned - all over the place!
It was so neat! God's instruction works!!! Whatever big or little that I sought God's will on, He blessed! I learned the real meaning of "except the Lord build the house, those who build are laboring in vain - to not take the name of the Lord in vain." I also learned to let Him build mine. God provided and continued to provide tools for me to find deeper things in the Bible, as I was ready to receive them.
In the process of learning forgiveness at a level few have ever known, I came to realize that I was responsible for what happened to my house, that I hadn't sought God's will on it first. That was a pretty painful pill to swallow.
Though, God also taught me to know when to hold 'em and know when to fold 'em in terms of being manipulated by people who take advantage.
Seeking God, in all things, became my choice, as only God knows where Satan will be lurking next. Step by step, letting go of things I had been doing to keep financially afloat, I began taking God with me to the grocery store and wherever else I went.
The MOST wonderful thing, in addition to all I continued to learn, is this. I grew in a personal relationship, a moment by moment walk with God, engulfed in His love ... and finally came to terms in that I was already accepted by God the moment I received Him into my heart. I am royalty, an heir to the throne, a child of the KING!
In regard to finances, I later realized that Satan had been steeling from us all through the years - even in areas I hadn't recognized. Having once given myself too much credit as, perhaps, one of the most prepared for being frugal in the world, there were areas I hadn't even seen. Only God can defeat Satan every time!
It took 3 mos. just to clean up the construction mess enough for our house to be safe, though it never got repaired.
God gave my husband a new job (at 3 times our income) (at the very same company who'd promised him employment 15 yrs. earlier) and made provisions for finances to get straightened out - one step at a time.
However, we ran into obstacles every time we attempted to thereafter hire help and, not wanting to start another project without God's blessings, restored finances just got saved instead.
Additionally, just before God replaced lost inheritance and other things that had been stolen from us, He gave me this verse. "And I will restore to you the years that the locust hath eaten, the cankerworm, and the caterpiller, and the palmerworm, my great army which I sent among you." Joel 2:25
I had no idea what any part of that verse meant at that time. But, I knew God had just promised to replace ALL that Satan had stolen from us throughout the years. Tears of joy flowed at the awesome love of God! It was more than I'd hoped for and more of God than I had ever dared dream.
It has been 11 years since this part of my spiritual journey began. We've been free of financial bondage for a very long time now. And if not really that long, perhaps the memory has faded. God answered me in the joy of my heart. He set me free, as only He can do!
I haven't seen anything since that was enough temptation to ever go in debt again. And, the growth with God has been wonderful! As painful as the transition was, it was well worth getting to know Him in a more personal way.
The house God promised, that day on my knees, we paid cash for (paid in full). Not only did we get three times our income, but, again, we live in a house that is three times greater than our income would afford and is more than we ever expected to have in our lifetime. Only by the grace of God, over 3,300 sq. ft., and I have no doubt but what God will fill it again.
God was more interested in cleaning the inside of the cup - making it healthy and whole. And when that's done, He owns it all!!!
Having learned appreciation for the verse "he learned obedience by the things he suffered" ... when our thoughts aren't lined up with who God is and His perfect will, we're not in our right mind. Everything God asks of us will prove to be for our benefit, every hard lesson learned will turn to glory. The battles are in the mind. To take Satan by force and get our mind back, we have to start all over and come as a little child.
The greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven are the children. In all things, God is our strength and OUR GOD REIGNS!
In addition to being a published author and poet, Joyce C. Lock created the religion column, "Christianity Made Simple" for Peru Daily Tribune, continues to write inspirational articles for area newspapers, and shares further in online and e-mail ministries.