Archive for the 'Religion' Category

If the Lord Wills

I’ll not forget an experience I had late Spring 1990. We were in our 6th year as a company, having enjoyed five straight years of rapid growth and profitability. I had added personnel and our firm was working all over the state of Michigan. However, it was May and we had lost a considerable amount of money the first four months of the year. T. L. Hart, Inc. was in trouble.

I had had a goal of becoming one of mid-Michigan’s best and largest painting contractors. And we were well on our way. Our list of reputable customers was growing and, as for me, I was active in the area’s trade association and had worked my way to the top as president. Working with this association and the state, I had developed an apprenticeship program to train new painters. All of which was in jeopardy because of the losses. Not only was what I had built at risk, but so was my family. We had sold our house in town—and couldn’t get a loan approved for the new house we wanted because of the financials.

I was humiliated and my world was fast falling apart.

One day, laying on the couch and commiserating with myself, God reminded me of a Bible verse I had read before. It was from the book of James, chapter four, verses 13-15:

“Come now, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, and spend a year there and engage in business and make a profit.’ Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away. Instead, you ought to say, ‘If the Lord wills, we will live and also do this or that.’”

There’s a lot to be learned in these three short verses, but my take away that day was this: “if the Lord wills.” That is, whatever I do—in this regard grow the company—it has to be in harmony with God’s will.

Most folks think that God and religion are to be relegated to Sundays and church, but that’s not true. Even a casual reading of the Bible instructs us that God cares about even the most mundane things, like eating and drinking and sleeping—not to mention business, employer/employee relations, profit, and so forth. I had come to understand this through many years of not only reading the Scriptures, but also being part of a Christian businessman’s group which studied such things.

God’s will is paramount to any endeavor, and it is important for the earnest believer to be always putting that ahead of his own aspirations. I think mine had gotten way out ahead of God’s

Life is too short to be messing around with pursuits motivated by pride and personal ambition. In fact, James goes on to cite the reason for his admonishment: “But as it is, you boast in your arrogance; all such boasting is evil” (verse 16).

I’m certain my inward attitude resembled at least to some degree such arrogance. Success, especially quick success, breeds such things. Thank God He interrupted the course of things and interjected His thoughts into the matter. I stood corrected.

If I remember it right, we went on that year to recover the losses and ended the year with a small profit. And I was able to get a mortgage. God is good.

I had a lot more to learn—but I shall save these for another time. What is important, albeit with respect to business, marriage and family, church, and other personal interests, is the will of God. The take-away is this: we ought always to say when considering anything, “If the Lord wills.” Or, “God-willing, we will do this or that.”

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For Openers. . .

Those of us who are Christians – and many non-Christians for that matter – make the mistake that we have God pegged, all figured out; that we know what He is going to do and when He is going to do it and how He is going to get it done.  What foolishness!  Even the apostle Paul did not presume to know fully the mind and ways of God.  So should we?

This is what Paul concludes after he has just laid out God’s extrordinary plan for His people Israel:

“O the depths of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unfathomable (inscrutable, unsearchable) are His judgments (His decisions)!  And how untraceable (mysterious, undiscoverable) are His ways (His methods, His paths)!  For who has known the mind of the Lord and who has understood His thoughts, or who has (Iever) been His counselor?  For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things (For all things originate with Him, and come from Him, all things live through Him and all things center in and tend to consumate and to end in Him).  To Him be glory forever! Amen” (Romans 11:33-36, Amplified).

This puts things in perspective.  While I firmly believe a person can know the will of God for his or her life, I have also learned from experience that we don’t always get it right, we don’t always get full disclosure, it doesn’t always play out the way we think it will.  Ultimately, God knows precisely what He is going to do, when and how – and He’s not necessarily obligated to tell us!  Our job is to trust Him.