After six years of living by faith and attempting to share the results, I am unconvinced that it’s any easier to outwardly express the pain of a difficult moment than it is to live by faith through that moment.
Mainly because seeking comfort is logical (the unspoken rule of popular Christian culture), while seeking the will of God at any cost is not. So for those with the task of publicly displaying their burdens in the name of encouragement, the risk is great that some who hear will simply not listen beyond their own understanding, and miss the point entirely.
But for the sake of those who will truly listen – for the sake of those who recognize that God will never say “Well done my good and financially secure servant” – we will continue to take that risk unflinchingly, and to seek His will at any cost by aiming to emulate the heroes of faith, rather than simply quoting them.
To that end, I believe it is necessary to continue by sharing the struggles we’ve faced since the launch of The Extravagant Fool, five months ago. As there have been moments for my wife and I that seem utterly cruel on the surface, but in the end have increased our trust in God so dramatically, that His presence has become as discernable in our home as an additional member of our family.
Thanks in advance for listening.
It’s a heckuva thing to walk into a bookstore, see your own name and title on the shelf – knowing that its message is encouraging people all over the world – and chuckle at the bitter irony of not being able to buy even a single copy for yourself, or more importantly, not being able to buy even a single bag of groceries for your family.
It’s a heckuva thing to receive phone calls of praise from powerful people – those who sell millions of books, and those who show up in movies – while reflecting on the fact that your son’s wedding is three days off, and you don’t have enough gas in your tank to get to there.
And it’s a heckuva thing indeed to carry these heartbreaking moments around, knowing you’ve done your Father’s will, but feeling like that kid who’s been sent to his room the one and only time he didn’t deserve it.
Just after the book launched in May, as people began buying and being challenged, encouraged, and even transformed by it (with hundreds of good reports stretching from our own backyard, to Canada, and the U.K.) the fiery darts of the enemy – betrayal, false accusations, and financial upheaval – began to fly relentlessly against our mind, will, and emotions, to discourage, depress and fatigue our position as living-proof-witnesses – that intimacy with God –is– worth any price.
And without warning or explanation:
- Several close friends who’d declared the book a transformational read, and offered their full support, suddenly did an about-face, and severed all contact with my family.
- We lost our income when I was fired by my wealthy employer, who, after reading my book, questioned its validity, and referred to it and me as ridiculous, and delusional.
- By email I received additional accusations, character assassinations, and even a few threats, including one from an angry individual announcing that he was going to “hunt me down” after one of his family members who’d heard our story, decided to step out in faith.
- A dear friend who’d planned on retaining my services for a writing project was forced to postpone it indefinitely when a devastating fire occurred in her home just days before the work was set to begin. She and her family were unharmed, but it left them with months of costly reconstruction, and left us with no extra income to help fill the gaps.
- We lost the ability to cool our home in the nearly 100 degree summer heat, when inexplicably, all four of our A/C units (two main, and two wall units) stopped working within days each other.
All of which resulted in a temporary downward spiral of no income, dwindling resources, and the inability to use my office to work, write, or help promote the book. And ultimately, the inability to pay for our basic needs such as electricity, health insurance, car repairs and even food.
It’s a heckuva thing this journey of faith, not only in taking each step with a total dependence on God, but in the task of remaining credible witnesses by sharing the experience – warts and all – with everyone.
Some call it foolishness; we call it faith – the paradoxical dividing line between all that pleases God, and all that cannot. On one side we see a fool who claims to be led by God, yet he can barely afford to eat. On the other we see a God who makes fools into authors, and then requires them to continue practicing what they preach.
It’s a heckuva thing indeed, with a price tag that is hard to concede. Unless, of course, we first believe that there is no risk when we fully allow the Spirit of God to lead.
Plenty of good news about what God has done these last few months, what we have learned from it, and where He is leading the journey of The Extravagant Fool – The funny red book that takes the risk of irritating some, for the sake of inspiring, encouraging, and offering hope to an entire culture of believers. Come along and see what happens next.