We had the most successful summer ever and then the fourth quarter hit like a ton of bricks smashing. We broke hard; three and a half years of hard work down to an instant, flat nothing.
What do you say when you have to lay off employees?
What happens when faith breaks and risk is rewarded with failure?
It was the fourth quarter of 2007, the beginning of the great crash of 2008. Our accountant assured us we were not the only ones hurting. She had clients in business for 20 plus years that were suffering; some were surviving, some were not, and others it was yet to be determined. Misery loves company; it was good to know we were not alone in the chaos.
I remember praying desperately that God would turn things around and yet, the worst came. Our lives were forever changed by this turn of events that set off a chain reaction. Life goes on and you feel like the walking dead. You go through the motions, but not really breathing or living fully. The blanket of shame, condemnation, fear, and guilt laid down heavy on us. Oh how the enemy loves when we live out the mess we are experiencing.
As I answered the door, I knew the look in his eyes was not that of a friendly neighbor. He held a letter of intimidation that had my husbands name on it and life continued crumbling right over my 35th birthday. A creditor at my door, barging into a family moment where he did not belong. Maybe this was a movie set, not MY life.
There is a faith that is hard and the taste is bitter. It’s a strong, enduring faith; one that pushes through, with fortitude, no matter the outcome – good or bad – knowing God’s purpose will prevail for His glory alone. When you can taste the bitter and still chose faith in a God who can – resting in His ultimate sovereignty – maybe you have drank from the “dark roast” cup of faith. Without the bitter we would not know the power and depth of God’s love, mercy, grace, and steady faithfulness.
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The dark roast: beans roasted at a higher temperature, for a much longer period of time, and the caffeine diminishes. The beans will crack once, and then twice, not quite reaching that third break. The origin of flavors, good and bad, are burnt out and the beans take on the flavor of the roasting process. Darker roasts develop an oil on the bean’s surface, they are no longer dry.
Our lives can feel burnt out, with circumstances we did not chose, depleting our “caffeine”, our resources, abilities, and strength – leaving us with the bitter flavor of emptiness. It’s difficult for God to fill a container that is already full. We’re emptied out so that we might be filled. Everything of “us” is burnt out, we hardly recognize who we are any more. Yet, “The Lord is my Shepherd, I lack nothing” Psalm 23:1.
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I’m not prepared for the faith I’m called to and maybe none of us are. I want the outcome of a miracle without being in a position to receive one. I want more of God, or do I? That means “me” must be stripped away and emptied. I desire to impact the world for Christ, yet when he calls me to this difficult-to-walk-it-out kind of hard faith I throw a fit longing for comfort or shrink back in fear.
We want the passion without the sacrifice of the broken; the emptied out container that’s desperate to be filled. The oil of anointing comes through the broken pieces of still trusting, the emptying out of ourselves so that we having nothing left, but to be filled to overflowing by our Abba Father who is so, so good.
Seven years later I would not trade the hard faith walk, for now I KNOW my God. Until we NEED we often do not KNOW. The gift is in the intimacy, in the KNOWING.
Faith on my terms, skipping the roasting process, isn’t really faith at all. The good news is, we only need a small amount of faith to begin with and a whole lot of God to keep pushing through in perseverance. The full measure of God’s power, love, faithfulness, and anointing is often seen when we’ve tasted the bitter and experienced the loss of emptiness – all to be filled again. Psalm 23:5 says it this way, “You honor me by anointing my head with oil. My cup overflows with blessing.” To be filled to overflowing, we must first be emptied.
The contract was written, negotiations were under way, and there was no answer as time passed. I drove to the street, sat in front of the house and prayed to a God who I KNOW can. When I opened my eyes the text was there, the contract was signed and accepted. “Before they call I will answer; while they are still speaking I will hear.” Isaiah 65:24 Seven years of a wild faith journey and we are finally home! God fills and restores!