In our Foundation’s Bible Study, we have been going through the book of Romans, and recently wrapped up the first major section of the book. Paul, breaking from current writing strategies, begins his book speaking of the ‘bad news’. He spends the better part of three chapters outlining the desperate nature of man before God. In 1:16, Paul speaks of the Gospel being the power of God on display. Then, to help us understand the extent of this power, Paul explains the depth of the gulf that separates us from God.
By the time Paul reaches chapter 3, he has vividly explained how all stand hopelessly condemned before God, regardless of your background or lineage. While man is not necessarily as sinful as he could be, all have rejected to honor God and give Him honor. We all stand guilty and condemned. In 3:10-18, Paul uses a litany of Old Testament passages to convey the fact that this is an eternal truth, not one he has created.
When he gets to verse 18, Paul sums up humanity’s problem: “There is no fear of God before their eyes.” Fundamentally, every root of sin comes to a failure to fear God. Man has failed to fear God, sending us hopelessly down a swift river of destruction. Each sin can be traced to some failure to fear Him. Each transgression betrays a failure to apply the knowledge of God and His holiness to our lives.
It is a simple fact that if we were to appropriately apply a fear of God to our decisions, we would not choose rebellion. But we far too often fall into the trap Paul introduces in chapter one. We suppress the truth. We may not suppress the truth of God the same way we would before God stepped in to redeem our hearts, but we still hold back the application of what we know to be true about God to our lives and the decisions we make.
Each and every time I sin, each and every time I fail, it is because I failed to fear God. I didn’t take what I know about God to be true and apply it to my life. I functioned like an atheist, not a sinner saved by grace unto obedience. So let us be about the business examining our hearts, our motives, our decisions to see if they are being educated by the fear of God.
For the last 8 years, God has sovereignly had me working at Lowe’s, helping me, in His abundant goodness, to support my family and supply exactly what I need when we needed it. The road has not always been smooth, and was full of ups and downs, but it was always obvious that God was sustaining me and preserving me. Through this long and winding road, God has always shown Himself to be good and generous.
Last week, this road came to an end. I always knew that eventually my time there would end, so it wasn’t a shock when it finally came. In my last five years as an Assistant Store Manager I have realized that there aren’t many people who retire from Lowe’s. God has shown me enough over these years for me to not doubt His plan for provision in our lives. But I know that there are things that I can only learn through circumstances like these. Here are some of the things that have been floating in my head:
- The thing that pains me the most about leaving Lowe’s is the relationships that I will inevitably lose. When you work at a place for 50+ hours a week for 5 years, you form some significant and strong relationships. Like any family, there were some members of the family that you aren’t as fond of, but I truly cared for them. In the first few days, I felt like I needed to be there to support them and help them. I even dreamed of my phone constantly ringing (which it often did) and me trying to help as much as I could. I feel like a shepherd has been torn from his flock.
- I will miss the opportunities I had for the Gospel. In the past few months, I had lost two very special men that I had managed to the grave. I will miss listening to what is going on in families, the sicknesses and illnesses, the ups and downs. I will miss being able to point people to a hope greater than this world has to offer. I will miss the little conversations and questions that were often posed to me.
- Another lesson that I am presently learning is how far your trust in God goes. We all have different levels of trust, some a lot, some not at all. But it is in situations where you really have no idea what is going to happen that you find out how deep it is. And when you find the bottom of that barrel, God starts digging some more, showing you where your trust must grow. Your trust grown context. All I can do is look back, see the trail of grace that has brought me thus far, look to the Word of God to see His eternal trail of grace, and look to the future to see where the path goes.
- Along the same ways, I don’t want to waste this trial. I want to learn everything I can. I want to take opportunities that I haven’t had before. For the last 5 years, I’ve been scheduled 55+ hours on a very eclectic schedule, leaving my body craving some sort of consistency. One day I would be there at 5 am, another working to midnight. I can now dictate that. I can wake up each morning at the same time and establish habits, like starting each day in the word and prayer, something difficult to do when the start came at 4am.
- I also don’t want to waste this time with my family. While I have worked a lot, the schedule did still allow for me to be with my family. Homeschooling always allowed for us to spend mornings together when I would close or afternoons when I opened. But we’ve never had an extended time like this together. While we won’t have money to have too much fun, I’m cherishing the moments of availability.
When I walked into Lowe’s the first time, I couldn’t have imagined that it would have lasted like it did. I truly thought I had another job lined up and was just going to get paid for a few days of training. But God had plans of gracious provision in ways I couldn’t forsee. And just because I can’t see His future plan doesn’t mean it isn’t written. I’m just excited to see where the path goes!