Thursday, June 12, 2014

Prospered By The Hand of God - As Much As - Even So Much

"As much as ye shall put your trust in God even so much ye shall be delivered out of your trials, and your troubles, and your afflictions..." Alma 38:5 

An invite to you to prove the Lord in these things and see if he will not open the windows of heaven and poor out blessings upon you such that there is not room to receive them...

OUR STORY
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Ten years ago I found myself working in the basement of the Provo temple. While working I would often notice a strong, handsome, young man while he loaded, washed, dried and folded thousands of pounds of laundry. Although this was attractive, I would not have guessed that just 4 short months later… we would be happily doing laundry together (wink wink - a match made in the temple laundry rooms).

For the next seven years of our marriage together, which I call the "seven years of famine", we worked really hard, but we always struggled with great financial burdens. I remember thinking maybe our tiny rental home at the time was helping us fulfill the scripture that there truly was not, “room enough to receive the blessings, that were to be poured out from the windows of heaven.”
We were as faithful as we knew how to be: tithe paying, fast offering, church going, visiting teaching, home teaching, calling, serviceable to our fellow mankind - surely, we thought the Lord would help us. We were not seeking great riches, we just wanted to be able to pay our bills, but still no real financial relief was in sight anywhere.
We were hesitant to go to family, as they were coming to us for financial help. My husband vowed to not ask the bishop of our wards for help, as that is what his childhood was like, endless bishop storehouse orders. But after selling almost everything, I finally convinced Jared to at least confide in the Lord's servant, our bishop, of our financial struggles. 

After many more weeks, he finally made the appointment to confide in the bishop, only to be told that when we were really desperate, having sold everything, he would be happy to perhaps pay a utility bill, but only if we were really desperate. Embarrassed and feeling he wasn't hearing Jared tell him we had no vehicle, we had already sold everything, we were desperate months ago, he left feeling disheartened, humiliated, and embarrassed.

Jared was a highly skilled web developer, designer, graphic artist, operations designer, and system applications professional. It wasn't that there was a lack of work, but it seems Jared's first test from the very get-go of our marriage and career, from the Lord (with Hindsight) was - would he fear man and man's economy more than offending God, in that every single Job he got, especially those opportunities as a owner-partner in a web development firm with members of his same faith in high callings - he was asked again and again, to work on edgy, at times borderline pornographic content required by his employers and especially his older and wiser LDS business partners. 

He was wrongfully told by these partners in the most exciting opportunity at that point in his life, as a young-budding-big-eyed-learning-to-be-a-successful-entrepreneur-admirer of these successful business men, repeatedly not to fail them on these big-time contracts - of which some were with big names like, Time Warner, S&K Mensware, etc. - But as time went on Jared told them (trusting in the supposed common faith-values and moral standards of the faith we all shared) that such is not pleasing to the Lord and the spirit was grieved - only to find that in the end, it was a loosing battle and he would end up disapointed, quitting, signing over his ownership  rather than continue on the path these partners would pressure him to pursue. He walked away with nothing and the Lord answered him with beautiful insights and scriptures after the test.

So you would think I would have understood this pattern by now, but driven perhaps by fear (the opposite of faith), I attempted to help my struggling family of then 4 small children by looking everywhere I could for financial aid - which we obtained with my diligence. In my naive innocence and anxiety for the welfare of our family I knew every single government program available - a miracle and blessing directly from God so we thought! Surely this was how the Lord was blessing us - through financial aid and my diligence in obtaining it. So I bore my testimony to all my struggling family and began to get everyone we could on financial aid... thinking I was blessing their lives... 

We even convinced ourselves that the stories like the ones you hear in conference, where a man is on a roof, prays that God will save him from the flood surrounding his home - getting higher and higher soon to take him - God sends the man a boat, he turns it away and says God will save him, then sends him a helicopter which he also turns away. 

The man dies, drowns from the flood, asks God why he didn't save him... God responds by telling him he sent him a boat - even a helicopter... I think you catch the point. We were constantly trying to force ourselves too feel good about this government aid  - it was a boat that God was sending us to save us from our financial flood, right?

Satan sometime uses enough truths to then tell a little  lie within the truths to ultimately distort our thinking and distract us from fully trusting the Lord. But the Lord is patient and uses things, even government aid by our own agency of choice, as stepping stones for us - because of his perfect love and patience with us. 

God left us to be blessed by what we were putting our trust in the most. Government ran by man. Don't get us wrong, we were grateful and were planning to get off aid as soon as we could... but we didn't realize we were running in the wrong direction.
It was that same year we had engaged with financial aid, our seventh year of marriage, that although we now had a way to obtain food, and cover any medical expenses - we quickly and finally hit financial rock bottom. Bankruptcy was now a temptation that was constantly before us... 
About this same time Jared’s previously subtle tooth pain intensified.  We knew we had to get him to the dentist - it had only been 7 years since he'd been to see a dentist.  So… we began selling anything left that we had. We sold every last thing that would sell, anything over a value of ten dollars.
After his dental visit (paid for with the selling of our limping mini van) we breathed a short sigh of relief, but as his numbness wore off, we realized he was in more pain than he had ever before experienced. 
For the next 30 days Jared battled incredible pain, he could do nothing unless he was on the maximum dosage of ibuprofen - which was just enough to get him by.  It was finally concluded that permanent nerve damage had occurred at his dental visit, and he was recommended to see a maxillofacial surgeon – which we could not afford.

With hindsight (where things are much more clear ) it felt as if the Lord was allowing us to be blessed by what we were trusting in most... where he couldn't bless us as much as he wanted because of how little we trusted him, we cannot be blessed (let alone saved) in ignorance, God is bound by his word, and blessings are truly predicated upon obedience to the laws, statutes and judgements pertaining to those blessings.

It was as if our minds were so entrenched in what we were brought up in - the blessings of programs like financial aid that seemed right, but in the end were setup by forcing others to pay for them -  a form of forced robbery (see book list here) - that it took these other experiences to get us to soften and come back to the Lord - so again with hindsight, sometimes the trials of our lives are mostly due to our maybe not leaning to the Lord enough... where this trial was a way the Lord was teaching us, even beckoning to us to trust in him more fully.
Financially impossible to see a specialist, Jared then determined to take the matter to the Lord and he said to me, “he was not coming home from the temple until he had a solution.” After an entire day of praying at the Timpanogas temple, he finally left feeling frustrated, miserable, and holding his jaw in pain… but his faith was not shaken.
On the way home, driving on the freeway, as he pondered - he was then overcome with a powerful, sweet, burning impression that God loved him, and would honor his faith, and would honor his desire to be healed.
Jared returned home and relayed this experience to me, I felt the spirit whisper to me that God did desire to heal  my husband, I felt the love Jared felt in that impression. I remember at that time looking at the refrigerator seeing a coloring page that my son Jacob had brought home from primary, it was a picture of a fish that read, “I am a God of Miracles”.
It was a sweet reminder, beckoning me to trust in him… now. “You can trust me Kathleen” he seemed to beckon.
A fast was begun in Jared’s behalf… The Sunday arrived to both bless our fourth child and receive the healing blessing Jared had been prompted to seek. Due to fasting, there was no ibuprofen to help with the intensifying pain. That morning, after the blessing was administered by his father, his pain increased.
Discouraged, I slipped Ibuprofen in his pocket before sacrament meeting and encouraged him to take it, if he needed it. He thanked me and we sat down ready to bless our baby.
Jared never wavered in the prompting he had - even those he trusted most told him the Lord doesn't work like this, he won't necessarily heal him - but trusting fully in the Lord, within 48 hours of his seeking a healing blessing the pain was completely gone. 

However, maybe due to the stress of our finances at the time, we forgot to properly thank the Lord for the miracle of healing nerve damage in Jared's face that was so intense it was affecting his head, his brain, his ears, and even his neck (a new appreciation for pain was gained by Jared in this). A few days went by after the pain was gone completely and the intense pain began to return. We felt prompted the reason was we forgot to properly thank the Lord. We repented and did so in sincerity, and it was after that offering of thanks and gratitude that the pain went away again (we feel by the spirit healing Jared), and has never returned.
Through this experience, I realized God… was beckoning… to me…. He was pleading with me… to trust him, to HASTEN… to him… and find rest. As we prayed and studied together, always seeking employment where we could find it - we were beginning to feel confident the Lord had been beckoning to us during those 7 long years of famine –

A sweet answer then came to us the following weeks when we were lead to read through a verse in Alma, the words almost jumping off the page at us. It was a direct answer to us. 

We felt as if we had been given a math equation, "as much as we put our trust in the Lord, even so much he could deliver us". Or in our case previously, “as little as we put our trust in the Lord, even so little, could he deliver us…” Alma 38:5
My trust in him was strengthened, but he was not yet finished teaching and testing me.  That’s what he does when you come to him, he teaches you and tests you, because he loves you and wants to keep you closest to him.
Jared and I thanked the Lord for this miracle of scripture insight and we rejoiced in the sweet burning of the spirit in our hearts, but we were still in an impossible financial situation, made worse by a costly tooth experience.

“I would that ye should remember (Jared and Kathleen), AS MUCH AS ye shall put your trust in God, EVEN SO MUCH ye shall be delivered out of your trials, AND your troubles, AND your afflictions.” Alma 38:5
If we showed trust in him a little, lovingly, he would help us get by a little, which we had experienced for… 7… long… years... 
He was beckoning to us again and again… would we hasten to him now?
We dived into the complete unknown and prayed specifically for the strength to begin to trust him more fully.  After this prayer, Jared then had an amazing job opportunity. He was interviewed 7 times! But the entire time, Jared kept telling me the spirit was asking him to not take this job. What?! I thought. Jared, are you crazy?! Full benefits, full time work, what are you thinking?! I did trust Jared a little more, he was right about this tooth, despite what seemed to be foolishness to the faithful friends around him - but come on Jared - this is the Helicopter, don't let us drown. 

Now you have to realize that Jared is an entrepreneur and always has been since a child (he has worked for 15 companies in his short 26 years at this point), which I now look back and realize true entrepreneurship is maybe nothing more than the faith-filled opportunity of being self-sufficient under God's care and trust in him. 

So to Jared, he was feeling the Lord wanted to honor his desire to work from home, become self sufficient under God's hands, and be closer to his children - but to me, it was another test - would I now trust my husband was following the spirit? How do I type out a scream at this point... AHHHHHH!!! Ugha Mugha!

Frustrated with this working of the spirit Jared was telling me - to not take this amazing job, where they were offering him to be a sub-CEO of sorts... Jared, much chagrined, left for his final 7th interview with this company - the spirit telling him to go to the interview, but not to take the job. Talk about pressure... 

A few weeks prior to this interview, a random ward member (now a great admired friend) showed up at our door with a book titled, Many are Called Few are Chosen - by H. Verlan Anderson. This was not a smooth hand off, we barely knew the guy - and in our naive ignorance, he seemed a bit more free spirited or open minded than we were comfortable with - So we thanked him with a smile, and had put the book aside and forgot about it... Well, for whatever reason, Jared took that book with him to the interview. We can attest that God works in mysterious ways. 

The interview was an hour and a half delayed for whatever reason. During that hour and a half, God knew Jared would read the book entirely, and if he didn't have that hour and a half, he never would have made time to read it. (big breath Kathleen) So this entire job interview process was just so Jared would have time to read a book, talk about a test!

While reading this good book, the spirit bore powerful witness to Jared through what he read - a witness of how the priesthood power works and how government aid was a form of robbery to his fellow man and God could not help us until we gave up any dependency on help of this form. Now, armed with the spirit's powerful witness  answers to both not taking the job, and our struggles, knowing perfectly that he was to not take this job but return home and watch the Lord work miracles in our little family's sphere or world - he returned home overly giddy with joy, turbo charged, and I was certain upon watching him come up the driveway, huge smile on his face, brightly beaming in his countenance, I was sure he would be starting that job on Monday.

Maybe it goes without saying, what happened next, after he shared his experience and told us he found an answer, and it was to stop all financial help in any form and to not take the job??! (Hindsight - the awesome company offering him the job closed its doors a year and a half later)

This is where I have to admit I questioned if he was making this up - but I did feel the spirit beckon to me to trust the Lord, after all what else could we lose at this point... doing it our way had been an utter failure (maybe that is how Nephi felt the two times he tried to obey the Lord in obtaining the plates, utterly failing both times losing everything in the process). 

I too read the book after this experience, and per the spirit's whisperings to us through reading this inspired book ( see book list here, also and especially D&C 109:7) we offered a sincere prayer and immediately afterwards, together, Jared handed me the scissors and said, "do as you feel the spirit is asking us to do, cut the card in pieces" (the week of Thanksgiving mind you having yet gone shopping), determining we would allow him the chance to deliver us and take him up on that witness thing (see Mosiah 24:14). We were beginning to hasten towards him.
Now, with no food help but a little tender mercy here and there from my parents, we had nothing, but... I did hold onto the medical help from the government (oopsy - fear driven wifey). Thanksgiving was fast approaching, and boy were we tempted to go get a new food card... the flood of debt, financial issues, and now food, was rising up to our necks.

It was literally the very next day after cutting up the food card, that the blessings began to fall into our laps… it was not a quick fix right then and there, but it was heaven-sent – and as King Limhi and his people experienced – God was about to show us what he truly meant in lightening the  burdens upon our backs (creditors calling daily telling us to pay them, food hard to come by, etc.) -  even so much that we too could not feel them upon our backs… we were learning to hasten… ourselves to the Lord’s beckoning.

It was a phone call from a previous associate with whom Jared had done business with. We didn't expect anything from this person nor were they anywhere on our radar or mind, the last person we expected to hear from in any positive way, as we had assumed from the negative outcome of the business transaction over the years this person really didn't want to talk to us ever again. But on the phone, this person humbly said, "I don't know why, but I feel I need to show you something. Get a baby sitter for 7pm tonight and come visit me in my office."

We told her ok, worried we were going to be mugged in a back alley, prayed about it, got free baby sitters that very night, and left feeling that the Lord was somehow in this. We showed up to this persons office and she showed us some amazing things - where we at first said, oh, that's really nice, you are making a thousands of dollars a month - how cute... how does that help us?... 

The spirit then slowly brought us out of our slump and despondency due to allowing ourselves to become our circumstances maybe more than having hope of deliverance by the Almighty God - and, as a few weeks went by, the spirit kept prompting us towards what this person had shared with us until we gave it a go... borrowed a few hundred dollars from my parents, and asked them to help pay rent and food just for the month and literally 3 months later from that day all our financial weights were lightened such that we could begin to meet our own immediate needs, buy our own food, pay for a gallon of gas in our borrowed three-seater-truck... 

God was beginning to lighten our burdens such that we could no longer feel them on our backs, and nothing short of the power of God could have delivered us like we were delivered those few months. 

But remember, God is a God of Miracles, and although miraculous to us, he wasn't done teaching and blessing us. You see, although we had that powerful witness, we thought there was no way we should let go of medical help for our children. We didn't have any medical help for us adults, but our children were secure - surely that would be too much to risk taking our children off medical aid? The Lord wouldn't want to put our children at risk right?

We prayed about that, prayed desperately for courage to trust him and take our kids off of this medical help, and we did it, we just called in and cancelled any and all government aid of any form. We did feel the Lord was pleased, like a burden lifted off our hearts.

It was almost right after getting off any medical help, that I then developed a pain in my abdomen. I ignored it for some time, until it had gone on long enough to worry me. Jared gave me a blessing and he blessed me that I would know what needed to be done.  Too tired that night to do anything else, I fell asleep.
As I slept, I dreamed I was at the Gate, and an angel addressed me and said, "you know you are going to die..."...  I woke Jared up, and told him of my dream, and per my dreams suggestion; we headed into the ER in the middle of the night, without a penny or insurance to our name. I felt silly telling them my pain was a 1.5 out of 10 on the pain scale.
But as they ran tests they discovered I had been bleeding internally for days and an immediate operation was required to save my life. 
As I came out of the anesthesia, grateful to be alive, Jared and I then winced as they asked for our bank card to make a small down payment of fifty dollars, which was rejected, of course, because of insufficient funds…
A nurse then kindly informed us we would be doing the hospital a great disservice, basically robbing them, if we did not apply for government financial aid, because it would pay for everything, including the doctors hard work of saving my life.
 You would think after all these faith-building-experiences the decision would have been easy, trust God… hasten to him. Would I hasten to him? We are finally starting to be able to pay some of these bills, a pathway to financial stability was now open to us, but this new medical debt could sink us...
Jared and I offered a private prayer, and told the nurse we would think about it. After the prayer, we looked at each other, both feeling what this was about, it was a test - we then tore up the papers and went home thousands more in debt – we hastened towards him, trusting he would be there for us and deliver us As much As we put our trust in him.
As we went forward, we determined to trust God at all hazards with our newly found increased faith and trust in the Lord, and IMMEDIATELY he sent the further means for us to begin to stabilize financially. 

Looking back now, we can now see how the Lord saw the flock of birds that his Israelite people needed - they were just over the hill - but they couldn't see them - they just had to trust God a little more, ask him - just as we had to trust that God sees all, even an opportunity he was waiting to bless us with - we just had to look to him and trust him fully.

We still have an exhilarating spiritual experience now every time we read through Mosiah chapters 21 through 24. We now understand what it means when the Lord says he will lighten their burdens and free the people by his power so that they can be his witnesses thereafter. We are witnesses to the power of his mighty deliverance - God Loves us. He has everything we need already laid out for us. We just have to trust him.
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END STORY

God has so much more for us than we can fathom - so much so that literally there is not room for the blessings to be held by us (our biggest complaint currently is that we don't have enough time or room for the amount of blessings being poured out upon us from this experience - talk about a complaint right?). 

We also didn't expect how many other blessings, insights and inroads would come from this experience. We have literally felt the windows of heaven open up and pour out upon us, where many other desires of our hearts have been slowly answered through this one decision, to HASTEN OURSELVES to the Lord and TRUST IN HIM more than man.

We invite you to kneel before him, and ask him where you are maybe ignorantly and even innocently not trusting him, then watch and prayerfully ponder the experiences that come your way. It might be a random ward member that knocks on your door and gives you unrelated books on spiritual topics. It might even be at work where an opportunity rises and the spirit you recognize in your heart tells you to stay away from such.

What happened to us is a pattern in the way God works with all of his children patiently and lovingly (see D&C 52:14). It took us much longer to "get it" than it will take you, because we were so naive and blind and so slow to decouple ourselves from false traditions and beliefs that exist esp. amongst our fellow Latter Day Saints, and maybe our generation - on how the Lord works with his children. God is no respecter of persons, and is not bound by good-intentioned men's philosophies and how miracles are to occur. Faith tried and tested put all those philosophies to their proper light or lack thereof.

One key that we found to our finally learning to trust him, was how God answered a previous prayer we had offered in wanting to know how to help fight for our freedoms in this country, which prayers he answered and is still answering with good books that by the Holy Spirit are increasing our faith in Christ, and are teaching us to keep an open mind and heart (see book list). 

The key is just that, keep an open mind and heart, even pray for such a heart, and let yourself be lead by the promptings of the Holy Spirit over all men - QUIT PUTTING LIMITS ON GOD and he will reveal his mysteries to you - be not afraid to seek learning and faith by good books, as sometimes we don't have the faith or knowledge enough, so we need good books to help us get there ( D&C 109:7 ).

Oh, and just to sum up our experience, we are being spiritually prospered continually - but also, for what it is worth, he then gave us, after our trials an open mind to an opportunity to exponentially be blessed in financial means and there is no other way we could have fathomed being blessed like this - Only God, AS MUCH AS WE TRUST HIM -  could have brought us to where we are at.

An invite to read about a principle of truth God taught us in this experience we related above, The Grace Flowhttp://voiceofanearthquake.blogspot.com/2014/07/the-grace-flow-gods-resources-entrusted.html

3 comments:

  1. Thank you for sharing your story. I especially appreciate the part about refusing government medical help even in the face of real medical bills.

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  2. Thanks for the comments. This doesn't mean we have mastered such principles of trust, but we are working on them always, but we now have a more awakened sense of how real God is and his involvement with us - lending to trusting him much more - not because he wasn't always there but we were ignorant to him and had to learn to trust him more fully.

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