Saturday, May 30, 2009

Treasures in Heaven; Blessings on Earth

I have been blogging each Saturday this month principally about not judging. I am fascinated once again at how appropriate the monthly resolutions have been on more than one occasion since I started this focus at the beginning of 2008 - and the wrap-up post for this month is a another great reminder that God knows us personally and is willing to inspire us in advance to meet circumstances that will arise in the future.

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:
20 But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal:
21 For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.
22 The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light.
23 But if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness!

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.


Rob and Crys said...

I totally am with you when you say that "each time I have chosen to pursue treasures upon earth, I have ended up being burned by that choice". I can see that is my life also. Thanks for this post, it comes at a time when we are considering taking a drop in salary to take a job where we feel we need to go. Thanks again, I love reading your post and thoughts. You always express them in such a way that I find myself nodding and saying that's it, exactly!

SimplyMe said...

I understand completely, although I don't remember seeing God's "hand" in many of my decisions. I'd like to be able to identify God's involvement the way that you explained. I try to involve God in prayer and in trying to identify the spiritual promptings but I've always struggled with making decisions. Currently I am looking at getting out of the field of human services, in large part, due to compassion fatigue. I'm strongly considering closed captioning for the deaf and hard of hearing. I need to go to school for 2 years and need to do it online b/c we own a home and my husband works in this community. It will be tough but I don't know how to 'know' if this is what I need to be doing, I just believe that I could do well with it. As I was traveling to visit a client today I thought about praying to God, but being that last weekend was the first weekend that I've been to church in several years I didn't want to get into that old rut of praying and then struggling to find the answer. How DO I involve God without fearing disappointment?

Good luck in your new endeavor! I have to say that I found relief in the avenues that you've been down. Sometimes we can be stuck on one career and feel tied to it, but you prove that we can move around and be ok. My best to you and your family!

Papa D said...

Crystal, I am glad I decided to post this in this way. I almost wrote it differently, so I hope it was inspired just for you. Anything for Mama's oldest daughter. *grin*

SimplyMe, I recognize most of the more powerful moments in hindsight - which I think is a fascinating reason to "endure to the end". It's cool when I can see His hand in the moment, but sometimes it's even cooler when I had no idea in the moment and only recognize it years later.

SimplyMe said...

Re: Recognizing God's hand after the fact. I never thought of "enduring to the end" in this way. I'll think about this as I reflect on God's hand in my past. Thanks for the well as for the url instructions! If I have any questions when I try it next I'll send them your way! :)

Patty said...

I was so happy and pleasantly surprised when Michelle told me about the house. I've watched several families over the past couple of years have such miraculous and amazing blessings presented to them in the midst of what would seem to be confusing or almost impossible situations. It's a real testimony to me of how Heavenly Father not only knows us but really wants to give us what we will enjoy.

Unknown said...

Moving is very stressful, even if you're excited about the move. I wish you the best in the process.

RE not judging, I've had an interesting experience recently... blogged about it, actually. I've gone back through my journals from when I was a teenager and I have a hard time not judging my teenage self pretty harshly. I'd be interested in a discussion about something like that :)

Christy said...

It is so uplifting to read things like this. Thank you for sharing your miracles! My best to you and your family.

Papa D said...

NSG, two things:

1) I believe the hardest part of "Judge not" for many people (especially women) is "Judge not thyself". Of course, we need to identify weaknesses and seek to grow and become, but the attendant condemnation of judgment is something we should not do. It's just so darn natural!

2) Our RS President writes a wonderful blog (click on Patty in the comments on this post), and I think she has written about her past and self-judgment.