A Wake-up Call?
As I walked to my car, I really wondered what I would do now.
Ten months ago things had seemed so perfect. We had been offered a job back in southern California close to family, found a beautiful new home in a great location, and I had started working with a fast-growing ministry that I loved.
But in the last ten months things had gone from great to, well, a disaster.
The timing of our move ended up being as bad as it gets. It just happened to coincide with the complete collapse of the housing market in the Dallas area. So ten months after we had moved, we still had not been able to sell our house—no matter what we did. That meant we were carrying two house payments: one for our old house in Dallas and one for our new house in southern California. As you can imagine, the strain on our finances was pretty enormous.
In addition, a few months after moving back to southern California, our third child was born, with the typical expenses of a newborn being added to the costs of our young family. And all those expenses along with two house payments had drained us of any savings we had.
Now I was on my way home to tell my wife I had just been fired.
I felt like I had taken a blow that knocked the wind out of me. I also felt like a complete and utter failure with no possible way out of the mess I had created.
Everything I had ever thought about success and money had been completely wiped away. I was stripped clean and was once again starting at zero—or worse yet, in minus territory.
Faith in the Financial Crisis
I have thought a lot about that time in my life as I have watched many families lose so much since the beginning of the 2008 global financial crisis—a crisis that seems to have no end in sight. As the world economy continues to roil, it creates the typical ripples of most economic crises: a stressed and rigid banking system, a weakened housing market, high unemployment, and a very uncertain future.
Millions are feeling the pain as many continue to be unemployed, others just now losing their jobs, families struggling with strained budgets due to increasing costs or the loss of their dream home, or both.
I have known their pain.
That day for me, having just been fired, put me into a severe financial crisis. There I was with a young family of five, two mortgages, no job, and deep in debt. Bankruptcy seemed like a speeding locomotive heading straight at me.
There were many sleepless nights crying out to and wrestling with God. “Why me, Lord? I acted in good faith. I trusted you! Where are you when I need you? Is this what I get for serving you? Where are you?”
I was desperate, filled with an overwhelming sense of failure and with no solution in sight. In those nights alone with God I would eventually find myself confessing, “I do not know what You are up to, but I do not have any choice but to trust You.”
Looking back, what I realize now is that God took me into a financial wilderness to teach me lessons that I could not have learned any other way. He was, in fact, rescuing me from a bondage I did not really understand—from a misplaced security.
God used my personal financial disaster and those years in the wilderness to begin a process of reframing my thinking about money and success. He met me at the lowest possible point in my life when I was most vulnerable (and extremely teachable) and gently led me on an amazing journey to a destination that I thought I would never find. He led me to a place of real financial freedom and genuine security. I thought that place did not exist—except, perhaps, for those of great wealth.
Finding True Security
Today I cannot help but think that He took me through those years not only to take me to that place, but to help others—perhaps you—who find themselves struggling through some sort of financial crisis. Or have this real fear of the future and whether or not you’ll be able to make it financially. I am writing this for those who feel as if they are in financial bondage, and long to be free, secure, and at peace.
What I learned is that God cares deeply about our finances. He really does! In fact, Jesus spent a lot of his ministry addressing the seductive power of money, and explaining why the handling of our money is so important to him. As Rich Stearns wrote in the Introduction, Jesus talks more about money than heaven and hell combined. This is a central issue that has a direct impact on our relationship with him.
I also learned that there are traps that can easily ensnare us and put us into bondage. Consumer debt, financially stretching to maintain a certain lifestyle, presuming on the future and minimizing delayed gratification.
And finally, He showed me the true meaning of what many Christians call stewardship.
That is why, in the midst of a financial crisis that has so many Christians in its grip, I feel a sense of excitement and hope. When I look back at my own life and the debilitating financial crisis I experienced, I realize that coming out of the dark night of my economic despair, God brought about a hope and new sense of security, peace and freedom I never could have anticipated. And it is a great place to be!
Maybe the ongoing financial crisis we are in … and the challenges you are facing … are being used by God to help you reframe your thinking and discover the freedom, peace, and security your heart longs for, and that God wants you to have. I am speaking of a freedom, peace, and security that cannot be swept away by any economic storm or personal financial crisis—no matter how severe.
If that is what you long for, then you have picked up a book that could be very helpful. In the following pages I want to take you on the same journey to discover exactly what I did: that the security God offers you as His child is not dependent on the size of your bank account, the strength of your financial portfolio, or the amount of your paycheck. It is a true financial freedom, a genuine security that can never be taken away.
Rick Dunham, a DTS graduate, is the President and CEO of Dunham+Company, an international consulting firm that helps charitable organizations in the development and execution of their marketing, fundraising, and media strategies. This excerpt is from his book Secure. Used with permission.