Matthew 6:19-23 was the "secondary" passage I chose to analyze and emphasize this month (Matthew 7:1-5 being the primary one). It reads:
19 Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal:
When I first crafted this resolution, I honestly didn't know why I included two very different passages for one month. I stand all amazed now, looking back and looking forward, at how inspired that decision was so long ago.
As some of you are aware, I am in the process of making a major change in my life - and, like many moments of extensive change, my immediate future has caused me to reflect on my past. This resolution (to study and consider Matthew 6:19-23) is interesting in light of my reflections this week.
For those of you who are not aware, I will be starting a new job in a brand new field next month. Among other things, I have been a classroom teacher, a training manager, an educational publishing salesman and sales manager and, most recently, a manager in the elderly care industry. For years, I have considered trying to move into college admissions, but the timing simply never seemed right. Now, it is - and I will be an entry level admissions rep for a liberal arts college in Missouri in about three weeks.
(If anyone has children, siblings or friends who are interested in a liberal arts education, especially one where they can craft their own individualized field of study, have them check out Culver-Stockton College. We are making some very exciting changes, and I am looking forward to being a part of that process.)
What struck me this week, amid the pressure of packing, purging, house hunting, etc., is that I am (yet again) starting over and taking a significant pay cut (from when I was employed) in order to pursue something I really want to do - and something I feel I have been inspired to pursue. Looking back on my life to this point, I am impressed once again by the foresight of the man who gave me my Patriarchal Blessing - when he told me that money would never be a top priority in my life. Each step along the way, from my college graduation (when I walked away from enormous economic potential to become a school teacher) to my movement away from upper level management in order to help influence my own children and a troubled young man to this mid-life career transition, I have faced multiple decisions where I had to choose between "treasures upon earth" and "treasures in heaven".
What is fascinating to me is that each time I have chosen to pursue treasures upon earth, I have ended up being burned by that choice, in obvious, undeniable ways - while each time I have pursued treasures in heaven (to "do the right thing"), I have been blessed greatly, in multiple, obvious, undeniable ways. Essentially every major, incredibly difficult financial trial I have faced has been the result of following my own instincts and understanding; essentially every major, incredibly enlightening blessing I have received (relative to my immediate family - wife and kids) has been the result of choosing something that made little sense at the time - something about which we felt inspired or something that was arranged almost without active involvement and work on my part.
My upcoming move is just the latest example of this. I know I am going to be doing what I am supposed to be doing, and this week has included direct evidence to me and my wife. Due to the overall economic situation in this area and our own situation, we are going to have to rent when we move. The issue is that, for a family of seven (at least for a few months), there are practically no available rental properties in the area to which we need to move. I felt strongly that we should try to live in the town where the college is located, but it became apparent right away that there were no housing options available for us. Instead, it appeared that we would need to look in the surrounding, larger towns - and even with that expanded search we were able to find only one option that fit both our size and cost needs. Therefore, we arranged to go out and look at that possibility on Thursday, praying it would work for us.
This Monday night, I was contacted by an agent with whom I had spoken previously. She informed me that she had talked with someone who was trying to sell his house and wasn't interested in renting. He had agreed to let us see it and talk with us about the possibility of renting for a while. When she showed me the house on-line, I almost fell out of my chair. It was the ONLY house I had seen as I initially looked on my own in the town where the college is located that I remember thinking, "I wish this house was being rented."
The bottom line is this:
We have a house we can rent, at a price we can afford, of an adequate size, in the exact location where I had felt we needed to be - and NONE of it, really, was my doing. I had reconciled myself to having to compromise, convincing myself in the process that I must have misunderstood my initial impression.
Surely, God is good - and we are blessed in this life when we lay up for ourselves treasures in heaven. The Gospel truly is full of paradoxes, and I am learning more and more to trust in Him and ignore what I want in order to do recognize and accept what He wants.