I once heard someone say, “challenges are just wonderfully disguised opportunities for growth.” I really do believe it to be true. Just like a strong physical body requires exercises that push it beyond what is comfortable, so a strong character requires challenges that aren’t comfortable. My newest challenge is that an advertiser owes me a lot of money.
The first time someone owed me money
I remember as a teen selling my guitar to an acquaintance from church and after months of reminders and little to no payments I realized that I wasn’t likely to ever receive full payment for the guitar. As a fairly young Christian, I learned 2 lessons. First, that Christians are people just like everyone else who make mistakes and don’t always do what they should. Secondly, that I could “fight for my right” in the flesh or I could let God vindicate me.
At that point in my life the $400 that was owed to me was a huge sum of money and it was honestly very difficult to cast that care on the Lord. I prayed about it for weeks and it became clear that the best course of action was to deliberately SOW the guitar into his life. I realized that I could either have a victim mentality, thinking that something was stolen from me, or I could choose not to have been stolen from and GIVE it, knowing that the Lord sees my heart and would reward that.
Looking back on this lesson, as difficult as it was it was so good for my character development. It helped me take a great step forward in breaking any love of money that was present in my life and ultimately helped me to better learn put my trust in God rather than trying to make things happen myself.
“Give to everyone who asks of you, and whoever takes away what is yours, do not demand it back.” -Luke 6:30
Fast forward to a today, and I have a new opportunity for growth. As a result of being a full-time blogger, I receive payments from quite a few different advertisers and ad networks. Up until a few months ago, I was making the mistake of not thoroughly keeping track of my payments. I just assumed that if they owed me money, they would just pay me. As a result of my naivety, one particular advertiser went months without paying and now owes me many times more than what I was owed for the guitar. At first I just contacted them to let them know, assuming it was just a mistake and that they would just pay off the remaining balance. Instead the last couple months have been a lot of me calling and emailing and getting little to no response and even less in payments from them.
As if the large chunk of change that they owe me wasn’t enough, this is money that I pay my bills with. It seems that the stakes are quite a bit higher than they were with the guitar in high school.
At the peak of my frustration I stumbled upon this verse…
“Let your forbearing spirit be known to all men. The Lord is near.” -Philippians 4:5
And just guess what the definition of “forbearing” is. Webster’s defines it as, “a refraining from the enforcement of something (as a debt, right, or obligation) that is due.“
I think God was trying to make a point to me, and as thick as it was laid on, I got it. To add to that, I felt like I was supposed to apologize to the advertiser for being too overbearing. After arguing and coming up with about 100 reasons that they should be apologizing me, rather than me apologizing to them, I obeyed and sent an email apologizing for my behavior.
The next verse in Philippians 4 says…
“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.”
While all this was going on, we were saving up every dime we could find so we could come up with the required down payment. I have to admit it was difficult not being anxious knowing that if they would just send what they owed, we would comfortably have our down payment covered. I guess that was part of the test.
So after all that I was convinced that I was going to cast this care on the Lord and allow Him to work on the situation. Right before I left for Florida two weeks ago, I called them to kindly get a update on the payment status and it appears they have gone out of business. It’s all a test.
There have been some good practical business lessons that I have learned from all this that will serve me well in the future, but much more valuable are the lessons that God is teaching me about my character and how to do things His way. I don’t know if I will ever be repaid from the advertiser, but I am confident that obeying God’s Word will always yield the best result – even if I don’t see it right away.
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