By Krissa Rumsey
On Sunday, Pastor Ryan Peterson spoke about the rich man and Lazarus. The rich man experienced a luxurious life but separation from God, while Lazarus suffered but joined the Lord at death. This story often leads one to decry materialism and the value of “things.” And when I would hear the story, I actually felt OK with my relationship to it. “I got this,” I would think to myself. I don’t live a life of luxury. I’m not drawn to shiny new things.
After all, my husband and I tend to drive old cars, I buy my clothes largely from second-hand stores, I don’t take the vacations I would like to, and I’m OK with that. Hey, I even work for a non-profit. I’ve got peace like a river because possessions and “things” do not play a starring role in my life. (Right. Cue the guy with the shepherd’s crook to pull me off stage because this is one performance no one wants to see.)
Then, Pastor Peterson asked us to fill in the blank that went something like this: “I could live without _____ and be OK.” Yes, I could probably put “shiny new possessions” in that blank. But I realized there are many more words I would not be able to put there. “A job” used to be one of them.
I could live without _____ and be OK.
A few years ago, I was very content with most everything. Both my husband and I had incomes, our family was healthy, the cars were running fine, all seemed to be well. And then, my husband found himself without a job. Our income was cut in half. I was afraid every day that the bills would not get paid or that a major car repair would be required, or that an appliance would cease to function. (And all of those scenarios did happen on at least one occasion.)
Until then, my sense of peace came from the financial security I felt by having some savings in the bank and two reliable sources of income. But, I no longer had that. The savings ran out. The warranties on the appliances were expiring and the cars were getting older. The things of this world could not offer me security as I perceived they once could. I reached out to the Lord, and as difficult as it was for me to completely place my trust in Him, there was no place else to put it. I really felt the Lord telling me that He was to be my confidence. We often hear that it is only in times of great need that we really learn to rely on the Lord. And, for me, that seems to be the case. It is at those times when I fully experience His promises.
The things of this world could not offer me security as I perceived they once could.
It has been three years and though my husband has been able to take advantage of several temporary employment opportunities, he continues to seek meaningful and permanent work. We still experience uncertainty in terms of our financial security, but, at least for me, we are in a place of greater certainty about the Lord’s grace and promise to provide.
His blessings have been tremendous. There have been days when financial needs arise and I don’t know how we’ll overcome them. Then an unexpected gift arrives in the mail or I receive a raise at work. I haven’t even begun to talk about the blessings our children have experienced with a father who was able to spend the summer at home with them, coaching their softball teams or making frequent trips to the library together.
Three years ago, my uncertainty and fear contributed to sleepless nights and increased anxiety. Now, I am more certain of where my peace comes from. I am becoming more confident at filling in the blank. The promises of Christ are real. I know there are others who have had to fill in that blank with more life-changing words than just “a job.” Many have lost their health. Others have lost loved ones. My own fill-in of “financial security” pales in comparison to so many losses experienced in our world. But, Jesus is always there and He provides the peace that really does surpass all logic and understanding.
Now, I am more certain of where my peace comes from.
Case in point: Two weeks ago our oldest vehicle needed major brake work. We really needed that vehicle because my husband was starting a job (thank you, God) requiring him to drive to Livonia every day. The estimate for the work was $700. A few years ago, this would’ve resulted in a sleepless night for me. But this time, I was filled with such peace in knowing God would make a provision somehow. We knew we didn’t have an extra $700 so I reached out to one of the automotive instructors at WCC where I work to see if they needed a car to work on.
It so happened they were doing a brake class the very next day and could I get my car there ASAP? I did and a wonderful instructor and group of students fixed the brakes for less than $300. The Lord provides. I really believe that the Lord has used our experiences to show me that He would rather I spend my energy loving my neighbors and growing in my relationship with Him, rather than being held captive by worry and fear.
I really believe that the Lord has used our experiences to show me that He would rather I spend my energy loving my neighbors and growing in my relationship with Him, rather than being held captive by worry and fear.
You can view the sermon here: