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Thursday, January 23, 2014

Thing$ "I" Learned The Hardway

           Thing$ “I” Learned the Hard Way

      Much of life is about learning things.  Sometimes we learn how to do something.  Other times we learn how not to do something.  Sometimes learning is hard and sometimes it is expensive.  The price or value of learning is sometimes hard to measure.  Often lessons are learnt simply based on Murphy’s Law.  If you are very old you have heard of Murphy.  If you are younger you may not know Murphy by name, but he has probably been involved in some of your learning experiences. What is Murphy’s Law?

     Murphy’s Law states simply that things will happen in certain predictable ways. Basically the worst possible thing that can happen, will happen.  It will also happen at the worst possible moment.  For instance you have new tires put on your truck. As it is time to get your brakes done you get them done also, because you are a responsible person.  You had a brake cam over so you are sure that is the problem. You only have a million four hundred thousand plus miles on your truck.  So you take the risk and spend all your cash reserves to get the work done.

     Proud of yourself you leave the truck stop, freshly showered and in your last clean outfit.  You hit your brakes to turn up the on ramp.  Then the brakes cam over,  again.  You pull over to the shoulder and crawl under the truck.  Of course you left your coveralls at home because it was supposed to be a short week.  They were dirty from greasing the truck and adjusting the brakes.   Regardless you crawl under the truck in the rain and back off the bad brake. Then you go back to the truck stop.  Your goal is to have them fix the brake they supposedly already fixed.  It is at this point you learn all your brake drums need replaced because they have worn so far down.  That is why the brakes kept camming over even with new shoes.

      You resolve yourself to the situation and organize the finances to get the job done.  Only one minor problem comes up.  It seems they only have one front rim and three rear rims in stock.  They have to special order the parts and they will not arrive till tomorrow.  Another problem arises.  The truck is in the shop and the wheels are off.  You discover you can’t sleep in the truck.

   No problem you whip out the handy dandy emergency cash reserve more commonly called a credit card.  The problem is solved.  The problems keep going on and you keep solving them.  The next thing you know you are $120,000+ dollars in the hole.   You are making the payments, but this is no way to run a business. Finally you are reading in the Bible and come across a verse you have read often but never taken to heart.  Well it was at that time I took it to heart.  I said, “Lord, Your Word says we have not because we ask not.  I have never wanted to bother you with my financial problems but I seem to be digging a hole and I need your help and guidance to get out of it. I know I am not supposed to borrow money.  Show me the way to get out of this debt and manage my finances according to your word.”

     A short time later I stopped at a place called The Road Angel Centre, at the northeast corner of Exit 68 off of I 70 in Illinois, which was and is run by the Association of Christian Truckers.  It is a Christian outreach to and for truckers.  It was a place I stopped often when going or coming from the West.  It was where I would get off the interstate and take the back roads to the house.  Loved to sit in front of the wood burner and just kick back and relax and fellowship with other Christian truckers.  It was on one of those stops that my life got turned around.  Not the Christian part, but how I handled my finances.  There were some free books laying there and I took one. It really changed my financial perspectives.  The book challenged me to a new way of looking at my finances.

       The book taught me to not only believe God’s Word , but to take it to heart and put my whole life in God’s hands.  I had given my life to the Lord, but I still wanted to be in charge and often did not give it over to the Lord till I was in a real jam.  The book was “I didn’t Do It, God Did” by a guy named Woody Clark.  He is the owner and head of Woodpecker Trucks in Pendleton, OR.  It was a short easy reading book that laid out how to put your total trust in God and His Word.  The book laid out how God had changed his life and guided his paths.

     After reading the book I started changing how I did my finances and especially how in my relationship to God.  It helped me go from over a $120,000 dollars in credit card debt to being a God dependent Christian.   The latter is a far better situation to be in.  The reason being you learn money is not the answer to your problems.  God is the answer

    There is one small irony in this situation. From 1988 till Thanksgiving Day of 1993 I was a company driver hauling chicken for a meat wholesaler in Vincennes, Indiana from Albertville, Alabama. It meant I passed through Nashville, Tennessee six days a week for that whole period of time. It was my last job as a company driver and allowed me to listen to a guy named Dave Ramsey who was just getting started at the time. His program gave me the foundation to apply what I learned from Woody Clark’s book.

     The problem was not that I wasn’t blessed by the Lord.  If you read my post of 7/4/13 Driving on Prayer, you will see how God can take care of things even when you can’t figure out how.  The problem was as I progressed in my trucking career as an owner/operator I started to think it was more and more about me and how I needed to do things.  One little problem or bump after another happened as I became more and more independent.  When I found Woody’s book I had been just going from bump to bump to bump.   The book made me realize that the reason I was having all the bumps.  It was from not taking things to the Lord. It was from not letting him clear my paths before me.  I was not allowing him to make my way smooth as he promises in His Word, which he had already done without me even realizing that it was happening.

      It amazed me how quickly things turned around when I finally realized where and what the problem was.  Following God is not a part time, when you feel like it thing.  It has to be a 24/7 experience or your only fooling yourself.  I have seen the Lord open doors and take care of things.  In Malachi 3: 9-11God makes it clear if you follow the Lord in the way he says, he will open the windows of heaven and pour out a blessing you can’t contain.  I truly believe that and can show it from my own life.

     Ten years ago yesterday I had a heart attack.  It is in my 6/23/2016 post.  Just scroll down to where it says TESTIMONY in big letters and you will see why I know it is not all about money. Even after I had to quit driving and had no income God did not come up short.  I had the heart attack on 22nd of January 2004 and did not get my first disability check till August.  I had no savings and no money in the bank.  Yet I never missed a payment or was late on a bill during that whole six month period.

     This all came to mind yesterday the 10th anniversary of my heart attack as I attended the service for one of my church brothers who left that church and went off to pastor another church.  A mutual friend ours who passed away several years ago asked me one time if I had a retirement plan.  I told him that I didn’t.  I also had no insurance other than that provided by my wife’s employer.  He said aren’t you concerned about how you will survive in retirement.  My answer to him was what I truly believed at that time.  “The Good Lord got me this far, I believe he will get me home.  It is in his hands.”  My friend, whose funeral I was at yesterday agreed with me and he lived it till the end. There were four of us in that conversation and I am the only one of us left alive.

    Here is another testimony that is true and I can prove. I only make about $15,000 and year on disability.  Yet over the last two years I have given away over $100,000 dollars.  No it was not my money, but a couple church brothers and myself had to give it away to close the doors on a church that did not live in light of God’s Word.  If the $50,000 the church had in the bank had been used for the Lord’s work, maybe the doors would not have to be closed and the building sold. The irony to me is that I never had a say in the church until the bitter end.  Even though I was in my sixties and had been in the church well over twenty years I was not a senior member till it became time to pull the plug.

    About three months ago my income was quadrupled.  It came about by a chance meeting that I believe the Lord had orchestrated on my behalf.  Yes I had to do the leg work, but he opened the doors.   God handles the details.

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