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"What the heck is going on in' my life?" Navigating the Joseph Pit.

 "What the heck is going on in' my life?" Does that express your life? If so, read this chapter from my book Upside the Adversity.Visit www.upsideofadverdity.com for more.eigh in on the discussion.

 

Chapter 1 – Upside of Adversity, by Os Hillman

You Have a Joseph Calling

So it came about, when Joseph reached his brothers, that they stripped Joseph of his tunic, the varicolored tunic that was on him; and they took him and threw him into the pit.

Genesis 37:23-24, NASB

A man in a dark suit ushered me into the luxurious sitting room of the penthouse suite. The windows of the room afforded a panoramic view of the buildings and monuments of Washington, D.C. “He’ll be with you in a few moments,” the man told me. Then he left me alone with my thoughts.

“Lord,” I prayed silently, “I’ve come more than 600 miles from Atlanta to spend just a few minutes with the man I’m about to meet. I hardly know anything about him. I made this appointment on the basis of hearing an audiotape of a speech he gave. But Lord, I know You placed that tape in my hands for a purpose. Whatever you want me to learn from this man, please open my ears and enable me to hear it.”

A few minutes later, two men entered. One was tall and stately, with an accent that seemed neither American nor purely European. The other man was somewhat heavy-set and spoke with a Swedish accent. His smile was warm and genuine. He put out his hand to take mine. “Hello,” he said, “I’m Gunnar Olson.”

I recognized his voice from the tape. J. Gunnar Olson—founder and president of the International Christian Chamber of Commerce (ICCC)—was a busy man. He was making final preparations for an international conference of the ICCC that very night. Even so, his manner was relaxed and unhurried. He introduced the other man, James Lockett, a member of the ICCC board.

 

The three of us sat down. It was late afternoon, and through the windows of the suite I could see that the skies over Washington were deepening toward evening.

 “Tell me about yourself, Os,” Gunnar said.

 

I briefly sketched in my story. For 20 years, I had been a highly successful advertising executive. My list of clients read like a Who’s Who of the corporate world: American Express, Steinway Pianos, Parisian Department Stores, ADP Payroll Services, Peachtree Software, and on and on. I was active in my church, and I led a men’s Bible study. People thought I was the model Christian businessman.

 

But something had happened to change all of that. Two years earlier, beginning in the spring of 1994, I had experienced a series of catastrophic personal and business setbacks that destroyed my marriage and left me financially ruined. The past two years had left me feeling defeated as a Christian. 

 

“To be candid, Mr. Olson,” I concluded, “I’m not even sure why the Lord has led me here today. I don’t know how you can help me. I only know that I feel like a complete failure. I’ve failed as a businessman, as a husband, as a father, and as a Christian. I know this sounds terrible to say, but it’s true: I feel that God has abandoned me.” With that, I fell silent.

Gunnar Olson and James Lockett looked at each other—and laughed!

I was prepared for just about any reaction to my story, but this response took me completely off guard. I had poured out all the pain of my shattered life before them—and they found it amusing?

 

My shock must have shown on my face, because Gunnar quickly turned to me and said, “Os, please don’t be offended. We’re not laughing at your pain but at the amazing way God works. James and I are simply astounded that the Lord keeps bringing people to us who have stories like yours! I tell you, Os, it’s uncanny!” 

 

“You mean, you know of other people who have gone through an experience like mine?” I said. “I’ve been feeling as if I were the only one!” 

 

“Oh, you’re hardly alone, my friend,” Gunnar said. “In fact, your story fits a pattern so common that I have a name for it: the Joseph Calling. Os, you’re not a failure. God has placed a Joseph Calling upon your life.”

 

“What’s a Joseph Calling?”

 

“Put simply, this is what it means: Like Joseph, God calls some leaders to experience extraordinary levels of adversity in order to accomplish extraordinary things through them. Why? Because He knows that adversity builds character and produces wisdom in the life of a leader. God will use this adversity for good in your life and in the lives of others. That’s the principle of the Joseph Calling.”

 

Gunnar then reminded me of the Old Testament story of Joseph, an innocent man who suffered misfortune and mistreatment, betrayal and false imprisonment. Yet it was those very experiences of adversity that prepared him to become one of the greatest leaders of the ancient world. I knew the story well—but it had never occurred to me to apply the lessons of Joseph’s life to my own trials. 

 

The moment I saw my adversity through the lens of the Joseph Calling, my perspective changed completely. I stopped seeing myself as a failure, abandoned by God. I realized that God had been dealing with me the same way he had dealt with Joseph. My losses, setbacks and trials had all been allowed—and even orchestrated—by a wise and loving God. Yes, Satan was also to blame for a failed marriage because God is never behind a marriage failure. Even so, God was preparing me for a larger role in leadership than I could ever imagine.

 

My first encounter with Gunnar Olson and the Joseph Calling took place in July 1996. Since then, I have discovered that everything Gunnar told me was true: There are thousands of Christians today who have the Joseph Calling upon their lives. They are entering, enduring or emerging from a time of terrible adversity—and God is preparing them to for the challenge of godly leadership.

Why We Are Called to Adversity

When Gunnar Olson first explained the Joseph Calling to me, it was as if the scales fell from my eyes. I saw my life from a completely different perspective. I no longer viewed myself as a failure, rejected by God. I realized that God was still at work in my life, just as he was at work in Joseph’s life throughout his trials. Once I realized that God had placed a Joseph Calling upon my life, all of my trials and losses began to make sense.

 

Adversity builds strength. Consider the butterfly. It begins life as a caterpillar, a wormlike larva that spins a cocoon for itself. For weeks, the larva remains hidden within the cocoon as it undergoes metamorphosis. When it’s time for the butterfly to emerge, it must struggle and fight its way out of the cocoon. Watching this struggle, we might be tempted to help by tearing open the cocoon—but that’s the worst thing we could do. A butterfly that is not allowed to struggle will emerge in a weakened state, unable to fly. Butterflies need adversity to become what God intended them to be. So do we.

 

The Book of Job is probably the oldest book of the Bible, written even before Genesis. It’s the story of a wealthy and successful community leader named Job. He was the Bill Gates or Donald Trump of his day—a fabulously successful businessman with huge holdings of livestock and real estate. He was also a deeply righteous and devoted follower of God.

Job 1 tells us that one day Satan came before God and God asked him, “Where have you come from?” Satan replied, “From roaming through the earth and going back and forth in it.” In other words, Satan had been wandering the earth, trying to stir up trouble, misery and sin among human beings.

 

God said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil.” Notice that God pointed Job out to Satan! God practically painted a bull’s-eye on Job’s chest!

Satan said, “Does Job fear God for nothing? Have you not put a hedge around him and his household and everything he has? You have blessed the work of his hands, so that his flocks and herds are spread throughout the land. But stretch out your hand and strike everything he has, and he will surely curse you to your face.”

And the Lord replied, “Very well, then, everything he has is in your hands, but on the man himself do not lay a finger.”

 

So Satan went out and proceeded to put poor Job through a trial of adversity. Job’s herds were stolen, his servants were murdered, and all of Job’s children were killed by a sudden tornado. On hearing the news, Job tore his robe, shaved his head, and fell on his face before God, saying:

Naked I came from my mother’s womb,

and naked I will depart.

The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away;

may the name of the Lord be praised (Job 1:21).

God didn’t directly cause Job’s losses. God didn’t personally destroy Job’s herds or kill Job’s children. But God did point Job out to Satan, and He did give Satan permission to bring these losses into Job’s life. In the process, Job undergoes a kind of Joseph Calling experience. Through his trial of adversity, he grows in strength, wisdom and faith. His entire perspective on God is transformed by his suffering.

 

We must get beyond the immature notion that God is only interested in making us healthy, wealthy and happy. God wants so much more for us than that. He wants us to be wise, mature, obedient, bold and committed. He wants us to be like Christ. And the road to becoming like Christ often leads through the wilderness of adversity.

My Own Joseph Journey

I founded my own advertising agency in 1984. The next 10 years were boom years for my company, and I became nearly financially independent by the age of 42. Throughout these years of success, my Christian faith was important to me. I operated my company as a Christian witness, and I maintained a high standard of integrity. Our company was named The Aslan Group, after the lion Aslan, the Christlike-figure in C.S. Lewis’s Chronicles of Narnia.

At the same time, I was experiencing deep problems in my marriage. Although my then-wife and I told few people about our problems, we were in counseling throughout our married life. We visited a number of counselors, seeking a solution to our problems. Finally, in March 1994, my wife decided that it was time to separate. After three and a half years of separation, the marriage ended in divorce. My only daughter was now a teenager.

 

We had just bought a thirteen-acre estate and were drawing up plans for our dream home. It was an idyllic setting, complete with a peaceful, meandering stream and a pasture for our horses. The house would sit on a hilltop. Just down the hill from the site of the house, we constructed a four-horse barn with an apartment upstairs. We planned to live in that apartment while the house was being built.

 

It was just after the barn and apartment were completed that my then-wife gave me the news that she wanted a separation—and that she and my daughter were moving into the apartment in the barn. I was devastated. I knew that we had serious problems, but I figured we’d eventually have a breakthrough in counseling and everything would be okay. Being a strong Christian, the word “divorce” was not in my vocabulary. Somehow, I reasoned, I’d find a way to change her mind.

 

Soon after the separation, I faced a series of ruinous crises in my business and financial life. First, our biggest client—one that represented 70 percent of our billings—decided to end our seven-year business relationship and fire us. To make matters worse, the client disputed a major campaign that we had just completed and refused to pay the bill—a little matter of $140,000!

Second, less than a month later, I noticed that I had stopped receiving financial reports from an investment company in which I had about $100,000 invested, both personal and business funds. It turned out that the company had gone out of business amid a flurry of lawsuits. Our money was gone—embezzled by one of the principals.

 

Third, a few weeks later, another investment company went under. This time, I lost about $200,000 of my own money plus a sizable sum that my widowed mother had invested on my advice. The guilt I felt over the loss she suffered was unbearable.

 

The fourth business calamity I suffered was especially painful because it involved a trusted Christian brother. He was the vice president of my advertising company, the man who managed our second-largest account. I had confided in him and prayed with him during tough times. Then one day, he came to me and said, “Os, I’m leaving to form my own advertising company.” It was a shock—but an even greater shock awaited me. A few days later, I learned that he had taken our second-largest account with him in violation of the non-compete agreement he had signed with me.

 

All of these personal and business calamities had befallen me within a space of a few months. Only a short time earlier, I had dreams, goals and forward momentum in my life. Now my dreams and my self-image lay shattered at my feet. I wondered why God had forsaken me. I couldn’t go a single day without breaking down and crying. Sometimes, while talking to a friend, I would choke up in mid-sentence and start to weep.

 

During the first year following the breakup of my marriage, I felt as if I were paddling a rowboat with ten holes while trying bail out the water. As I tried to keep my company from bleeding to death, I struggled to maintain a relationship with my 12-year-old daughter, who was hurting even worse than I was. There was a period of about three weeks where I seemed to lose my relationship with her completely, because her view of me was tainted by the influence of my estranged wife. For a while, I wondered if my relationship with my daughter would ever be restored. 

 

My pain was so great that I questioned the existence of God. Paradoxically, I was also angry with this God whose existence I doubted. The more that went wrong with my life, the angrier I became. I blamed my wife, the investment companies, and my former business partner for these calamities and tragedies. I also blamed God.

 

I have learned that I have the kind of personality that demands to be in control. A controlling personality is usually driven by two forces: fear and pride. I lived with the fear that if I didn’t control every situation, I would lose control of my life. I hesitated to delegate important tasks and decisions to others because I feared that other people wouldn’t do things as well as I did. Most of all, I feared allowing God to have full control of my life. I realize now that my fear-based addiction to control was corrosive to my marriage.

 

I also had a problem with pride-based control. I had to maintain a good public image—the image of a successful, competent businessman with a strong Christian family. I couldn’t let anyone know that I was flawed or that I lacked competence in any area. I couldn’t bear the thought of people knowing that my marriage was failing, and my business was failing.

I tried desperately to reconcile with my wife, but she wouldn’t budge. I tried desperately to recover my lost investments, but that was a lost cause. I tried desperately to save my advertising agency from ruin—I cut the agency staff from 10 people down to one (me), but I still lost money. My life was tumbling out of control. For a control addict, there is no worse fate than that!

 

I had lost everything that meant anything to me—my marriage, my relationship with my daughter, my business, my wealth, my self-esteem, my dreams and my faith in God. What did I have left to live for? I even considered having a car accident so that my family could collect on my $500,000 life insurance policy.

 

My trial of adversity, which I call my “Joseph Pit” experience, began in March 1994 and lasted until March of 2001—exactly seven years, just like the seven years of famine in Egypt. During my trial, God sent a number of people to walk alongside me and help me understand what God was doing my life. At the end of those seven years, God restored me in all aspects of my life—and He gave me a whole new reason for living.

Your Own Joseph Journey

I’m writing this book because there are thousands of people going through a journey like mine. I’m writing this book because I know how it feels to suffer adversity and feel abandoned by God. You may be in the Pit right now, but realize that God is at work in your life, using your adversity to prepare you for an amazing future.

 

Over the years, I’ve found that very few people understand the Joseph Calling. Pastors don’t. Business leaders don’t. Well-meaning family members don’t. I didn’t begin to understand it myself until I walked into that Washington, D.C., penthouse and Gunnar explained it to me.

Now I take this message wherever I go. I share these truths through my speaking and workshops. Every time I talk about the Joseph Calling, people come to me and say, “I’ve never heard this before! I’ve felt completely alone with my pain! I thought God had turned His back on me!”

 

God used Gunnar Olson as a lifeline when I needed one. Now I’m privileged to see God using me as a lifeline of hope to others. I could never have had this ministry if I had not gone through the Pit of adversity. Today, I’m grateful for what I’ve learned through that experience of pain and loss. What looked like a Pit of despair at the time has become a launching pad for the ministry I have today.

 

What does your Pit look like? How deep is it? How wide? How dark? How painful? No two Joseph Pit experiences are alike. Yours may entail the loss of a career, financial setbacks, a crisis in your marriage, the loss of loved ones, the loss of your health, or any of a thousand other trials or calamities.

 

But one thing is consistent in every Joseph Pit experience: Your life is interrupted. You’ve lost control over your circumstances. You are cast upon a sea of uncertainty with a raft but no oars. For the first time in your life, you are forced to depend entirely upon God and others.

If that is how you feel right now—I want to give you hope for your future. God has selected you to embark on the journey of a lifetime. He has chosen you to join the select company of people like Job and Joseph, Daniel and Paul—people who have undergone adversity and have emerged as people of refined character and enlarged leadership ability. I want to give you the same message that God imparted to me through Gunnar Olson: You have a Joseph Calling upon your life. In this time of adversity, God is preparing you. He’s getting ready to use you in a mighty way. And He will turn your Valley of Achor (trouble) into a door of hope.

Questions for Reflection

             1.   How do you normally respond when you find yourself in a crisis of adversity? How would you like to respond?

             2.   What parallels do you see between the journey of Joseph and your own journey in life? What lessons or encouragement can you draw from those parallels?

             3.   What are your feelings as you reflect on the adversity that you are experiencing right now? Are you angry about the situation that you are in? With whom are you angry? God? Yourself? Your spouse? Other family members? People in your church? People in your business circles? Others?

             4.   What is the prayer of your heart right now? How would you like other people to be praying for you? Have you asked a trusted Christian friend to be your partner in praying for that need in your life?


 

Excerpted provided by permission. Upside of Adversity, Regal Books, copyright Os Hillman, 2006. Reproduction without permission prohibited.

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Os, space does not permit it all, but for at least 5 years now God has used your newsletter. It actually started with Joseph (i.e. going through someone's Biblical life). Joseph was the first CD / contact I had with you.

I've continued an up/down journey of brokeness from 2005 until now, with hundreds of things God has said. My character has changed much, but not near as much as I wish, in terms of handling all the despair and hoplessness that I fight daily.

I lost yet another job (March 2010), though more than ever before I spent the 7 months in this job by tithing, doing sincere devotions daily, going to church and a men's study.

Based on the 5 years' experience with God, I did all these things KNOWING God may STILL not bless the startup company I was at. I expressed this to God regularly, asked Him to bless the company, yet fearfully chose to release all to His will (that IS our part of obediance and trust). After 7 months the Owner became ill and the company folded.

I could talk about the failed marriage, massive loss of life savings, mental failure, development of major depression, a suicide attempt, more firings than ever experienced in my entire life. That summarized, I know God better than ever in my life. In spiritual terms, God's way of working, it makes sense. In my human understanding and the pain of life itself, it makes not sense when you consider how awsome and good God is, and how He can make your life wonderfully pleasurable (perhaps what hurts the most for me in terms of knowledge).

I continue to suffer, my heart is again very broken, I am disappointed, and hate my human condition. NOTE that I pursue God and try SO hard to CHOOSE joy. I hate being who I am, being weak, double-minded, so emotionally broken. Other than my relationship with God and keeping eternal salvation in mind, I have no real lasting peace in my heart, my emotions. I don't know why, considering how much I pray, surrender, call to God for power in my body, etc.

God continues to speak to me about what I pray or what I read, but will NOT give specific direction to my life. I have NO vision, no clear mission for a career work situation, no calling to 'turn right or turn left'. I am not referring to 'do what you know to do', in terms of general Christian living, God Himself knows I strive continually to remain faithful to Him, regardless of circumstances, not to earn anything before Him, but to simply follow His commands, to love Him the best I can.

What I find so difficult is that now, more than EVER, I seek God's guidance, that He'd tell me what to do exactly, but He does NOT. The message, far as I can tell, continues to be perservere and trust Him, regardless of what happens to you; homeless, whatever. Note that up until now, God has provided food, clothing, and shelter.

I follow a 'through the Bible' regular reading schedule and am now in Job. Almost every verse applies to me. Anyone who says crying out in despair of life is ungodly or wrong, is a LIAR. Anyone who says expressing doubt when in great loss, when severely depressed and feeling utterly hopeless, is also a liar. God never condemned Job for his suffering and even desire to die, or to curse his being born. God simply and clearly explained to Job that God IS God, and created all things, and regardless of what happens in your life, God is in control and can do as He wants, whether you understand why or not. Perhaps Satan accuses me before God, that I will 'curse God to His face' because of my suffering. But I won't. I'll die screaming perhaps, hating all my life here, but I know now that God has plans for me, plans for good and not evil. And I may have to wait until Heaven to ever enjoy life again.

For over 5 years now I have battled being torn in two, dying inside and yet learning to totally depend upon God, learning to be determined to God not matter what, learning to choose to praise God even as I cry tears of despair. Being afraid and in despair, and yet reading and praying every morning, often for an hour or more. Even as God finally DID tell me perhaps a year or so ago that ALL my suffering was about "brokeness", very specifically.

I am utterly convinced by my experience that God may or may NOT help you in your circumstances, timing of release it in His hands, and it is not based on your performance, your FAITH, good works, etc. You can believe ALL you want, SAY all you want, that God will heal, etc., but he may NOT for some time.

I actually had a guy, early on in my trial, tell me, "God is saying you've been a wimp, and He is toughening you up. You complain about retirement, your 401k, no benefits, etc. God WILL restore you, it may take 5 or 10 years, but he will restor you."

Note that I met this guy while just doing some PC repair work. I heard him talking about going to China with his family for vacation. He has EVERYTHING I wanted (in my mind). His own business, money, big house, etc. Anyway, I thought perhaps mentioning I'd visited Israel in 1981 might open a door to witness. Note I NEVER really witness these days, but you'll see God did all this.

In short, he learned I was a Christian, and he was also. The first thing he said was, "I'm really tired of living in this world. How about you?" Of course I said, "Yes I am", something like that. He saw my face and said, "You really are, aren't you..."

I ended up dumping about my career loss, marriage, etc. I had NOT told him I had been complaining to God that I have no retirement, no real savings, no 401k... the very WORDS he used later or through two people (unrelated to each other) saying the SAME things or quoting even the SAME verse!

Can you see WHY I hope so much for restoration in THIS life?

He sometimes blesses the evil (for awhile) and suffers the righteous. It is extremely hard to know ALL God's promises are true, yet they may NOT apply specifically to you, either right now, or perhaps not in this life. I have CLAIMED God's promises over and over, and over, and still the situation worsened.

This confusion ultimately drove me to insanity in terms of my body shutting down, all decision-making ability being lost, being hospitalized, recovering somewhat, then attempting suicide... and two months later getting a local city job! Talk about emotional, weird living circumstances. I worked hard to get that job, hoping for long-term career and excellent city government benefits. A year later I was laid off.

I cry to God that ultimately he restored Job, Joseph, David, and others. He specifically gave people in the Bible direction, but not always everyone. I often pray to God, that NOW when I truly surrender and seek His will for MISSION, whatever it may be, trying with ALL my heart, asking for His power in EVERY aspect so I can both will and DO his will, why doesn't He tell me specifically what to do.

At 49 now, I have often felt my life is almost over. We all know it is not, not until we die. But I've often felt very old. So I've prayed alot to die, just like Job did, just like Isaiah did. I am utterly worn out, yet have to live here.

More recently, after living 7 months on my own, I moved back into my 'home' with my spouse, because SHE lost her job as well. She experienced almost the same harsh breakdown due to mistreatment and evil from a boss at her job (the same thing that drove me to the hospital in 2005).

I helped her through her trial, and though she saved this company tens of thousands of dollars (by finding accounting errors, etc.), her jealous female boss fired her. Same as what happend to me years ago.

Oh yes, she was committed to God for about 5 minutes. We went to church ONCE. Since then she has played ALL the old tapes... everything is my fault, etc. She literally drives me insane. Note I moved here in FAITH, I prayed, not knowing God's will. I simply put my trust in Him. Well it's been hell again. Note more than ever I do not blame God at ALL. I now know He is GOOD, and perfect, etc. So then I rationalize it is my fault (because the situation is not "good"), but then hold on the truth that 'fault' is not the issue here, it is what God is DOING that matters.

So my journey continues in great frustration, sadness, and despair. Yet I choose as best as I can to focus on God, on His goodness, on Heaven, on being saved eternally, etc. I thank God for as much as I can, as regularly as I can. In my lack of understanding, how I hate this world. Yet it continues to be my hope that God will have mercy on my life, be gracious and grant utterly unmerited favor, and perhaps in this life grant me restoration as He did for Job, Joseph, and others.

That perhaps like Abraham, though he lied to Pharoh (ie. made mistakes in life) about Sarei being his sister (though she was, but ALSO was his spouse), GOD intervened and then Abraham came out of it a RICH man. All you readers, know that I truly and ultimately seek GOD as my riches, as my security, as my job, my career, my very life. But God ALSO blesses people in THIS life.

WHO do you know who would rather be Abraham than the paralyzed, the lame, Lazuras who suffered all through life (though he went to Heaven)? Yes, I want to be just like Jesus, like Paul, and God is my witness that I surrender to whatever He allows or wants, to the best of my human capacity. But I am to be whoever God made ME to be as well, and like any human being in the Bible, I simply want to be delivered, set free, have true peace, have some enjoyment of life, not be continually humiliated.

NOTE! I had just submitted this comment, then checked my Outlook mail and saw the Friday, June 18th 2010 TGIF newsletter. So once AGAIN, God speaks to me. I welcome any comments from readers regarding what I earlier wrote, and how it relates to today's TGIF below!

Making Decisions by Hearing God
TGIF Today God Is First Volume 2 by Os Hillman
Friday, June 18 2010

"For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways" (Isaiah 55:8-9).
God speaks to his children in many varied ways. God has said that his ways are not our ways. If left to our reasoning, we will fail to fully walk in the full counsel of God, which leads to poor decisions.

Thus, our goal is to avoid being deceived and to develop a listening ear that hears the voice of God with confidence. Our goal is to have such intimacy with God that we can walk in the full blessing of our decisions and to be assured they are not based on our own reasoning alone. This does not mean that we do not use the intellectual and logical skills that He has equipped us with.

A.W. Tozer said that the man or woman who is wholly and joyously surrendered to Christ can't make a wrong choice - any choice will be the right one. J. Oswald Sanders explains his method of receiving guidance from God for decisions; "I try to gather all the information and all the facts that are involved in a decision, and then weigh them up and pray over them in the Lord's presence, and trust the Holy Spirit to sway my mind in the direction of God's will. And God generally guides by presenting reasons to my mind for acting in a certain way."

The apostle Paul said, "For it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose (Philippians 2:13). God has equipped us with everything we need to make good decisions. Hearing His voice is the first step toward making right choices in life.

Do you have a decision to make? Submit that decision to the Lord, ask God for clarity. Ask Him to make the desires of your heart the same desires that He has for you in this matter. Await His perfect timing on the matter. Then you can be assured of making the right decisions.
Robert, You are definetly storing up great treasures in heaven. The more you push through this storm you're in and still stay strong in faith, the more lives you are affecting. With forums like this, one can never truly grasp how they are affecting others. I for one am inspired by your faith. Keep pushing forward. God does have great plans for you. Ask Him to give you strength for the day and He will do it. Don't worry today about the strength you'll need for tomorrow, when tomorrow comes God will give you the strength you need then.
Keep on keepin on!
Hi Jim, I'm surprised anyone actually read it... I fight a tendency to ramble, there's just so much... maybe a book one day.

FYI, I'm now in Psalms for my reading schedule. My commentary said, on Psalm 21:7, "When we trust in God, we have permanence and stability. We may lose a great deal -- families, jobs, material possessions -- but we cannot be shaken from God's favor. He will be our foundation of solid rock. He will never leave or desert us."

That pretty much sums up my life at this point. Interesting, eh? The amazing thing, is that I'm finding all of the Bible's writings, promises about God, to be true. Though simultaneously horrible, if you survive the suffering, the loss of identity with this life and your emotional grip on material security, even your marriage, family, home, mental health, physical health, you do learn to depend on God for ALL...

He becomes your family, home, job, income, literally your security, provision, etc.... and your love for this world does fade, and your eternal perspective, your thoughts of God, Jesus, and Heaven, including your relationship with Him... slowly but surely (I can personally guarantee it) grow to a depth of understanding you would otherwise never know.
Thanks for all these posts. Your journey helps others understand the " Joseph" journey.
Os, thanks for taking a moment out of your extremely busy day. Sure wish we could spend one hour talking sometime, even 30 minutes!
Hi Robert, I am very thankful for your sharing and I totally agree! And you know what, last nite God used that same verse you quoted from Phil 2:13 to reaffirm his purpose and truth. What you just testify has ministered to me, keep growing that dependence on Him!

Today, God spoke and told me that He is a God of love. Not the kind of God I have been chasing who would grant wishes on money/financial issues. I have chasing after my own tail for the long time and I am certain that I am coming out of a dark period now. I am glad and just have to keep remembering Good at all time and I know that God will aligh me to His purpose and calling for me!

May the peace of the Lord and His understanding and wisdom open your mind, your heart and spirit to hear Him this day forward! Amen! God bless:)

G - God
O - Owns
O - Our
D - Destiny

Praise God!
Hello Madalina! I'm very glad to hear from another believer... I am more glad that you gain some benefit from my experiences. If I had my 'human' choice, I would most certainly not be where I am right now, however we would definitly not be talking, nor would I know the Lord nearly as well. It is a very hard thing to accept (for me anyway); that pain and suffering is apparently needed in order to develop a deep relationship with God. Even doing all you can in terms of 'right' does not prevent it.

For example, I recently had a job for 7 months (Aug 2009 - Mar 2010). Based on the previous 4 years, I kept on my devotions daily, went to church, joined a bible study, and tithed regularly (like never before) from each paycheck. I really did not want to lose another job. I had a great boss, really enjoyed the work, etc.

Now I knew these obedient actions did not guarantee a stable job, and I daily surrendered all to God (with fear), yet I prayed constantly that God would bless this new startup company. However the Owner/Investor became ill and the company was shut down. The lesson? God's promises may not apply right now, or to you specifically, though they are all true. In tithing, God promises, even challenges you, to tithe, saying, "I'll pour out such blessing on you that you will be overwhelmed." Yet from my perspective, I was not blessed 'earthly-wise'.

I was not totally broken down, but like shock treatment, it triggered additional disappointment and once again, forced the stretching and excercise of my faith in God's goodness, grace, and compassion. That's the part that hurts, the continuous discipline of excercise, for me it is literally like lifting weights.

As I continue my scheduled reading through Psalms, I am convinced that God continues to keep me in uncertain circumstances to increase my faith in His faithfulness, to gain greater confidence that I can depend on Him. I am learning to reconcile the many promises for deliverence and protection, with the fact that they do not apply to everyone, a mystery that can drive you mad as you seek God's salvation from troubles. We know bad things happen to good people all the time.

So I ask for all good things while surrendering all simultaneously. That, as David, I may see 'goodness in the land of the living' (blessing in this life), and for spiritual success as well, meaning that His will and purpose for my life be fulfilled. That, like Job, I may be restored and blessed twice as much, and have a great relationship with God; it never hurts to hope and ask!

As of today, He has not yet allowed me to be without a home, food, or clothing. For that alone, I am most thankful.
I recently read Os Hillman's book "Adversity and Pain, the Gifts Nobody Wants" and realized what I have been going through is the "Joseph Calling". It was astounding, and at time, a little frightening as to how much Os' experienced mirrored my own. With nearly 7 years of being in the desert, I feel parched and exhausted at times. Yet this past year God has been repeatedly telling me, whether I turn left or right, to "Be Still and Know that I Am God." I very hard thing for a doer, a fixer, a problem solver. But I know that is a part of my character I needed to surrender to God.

Right now, I am in day of 11 of fasting and praying...not always on my knees, but as I drive, as I walk...in whatever I'm doing. I thought I had surrendered all, and exposed to God "all my filthy rags". I have prayed repeatedly asking, "Search me, Oh God ad know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts." " Point out anything in me that offends you and lead me along the path of everlasting life." I thought that I had dealt with everything. But since I began my fast, God has allowed to bubble up to the surface things that I have forgotten that I needed to confess and deal with. He also gave me light and understanding how some of my past actions, although I thought were justified and corrected, from the perspective of others around me, were anything but good and right and pure. They were, as I put it justified in my own eyes. There have been so many amazing truths that I have learned in these 11 days, not the least of which how much God loves me and has been longing for this time with me, just as I long time with my children and loved ones...only He longs for me more.

I don't know how long I will be fasting, but I've asked God to give me three confirmations as to when I should break my fast. Satan, has already slickly disguised himself and sent a false message, to "get up, eat and celebrate." Because he is so slick and cunning is why I've asked God to give me three confirmations. If I receive none, I will press forward for a 40 day fast and bask in the company and this wonderful time with God.

I don't know how long my Joseph pit experience will last, but I know my strength does not come not from self-sufficient me, but from God alone.

Pressing Forward into the arms of Christ,
Penny Bolton

Robert Shackelford said:
Hello Madalina! I'm very glad to hear from another believer... I am more glad that you gain some benefit from my experiences. If I had my 'human' choice, I would most certainly not be where I am right now, however we would definitly not be talking, nor would I know the Lord nearly as well. It is a very hard thing to accept (for me anyway); that pain and suffering is apparently needed in order to develop a deep relationship with God. Even doing all you can in terms of 'right' does not prevent it.

For example, I recently had a job for 7 months (Aug 2009 - Mar 2010). Based on the previous 4 years, I kept on my devotions daily, went to church, joined a bible study, and tithed regularly (like never before) from each paycheck. I really did not want to lose another job. I had a great boss, really enjoyed the work, etc.

Now I knew these obedient actions did not guarantee a stable job, and I daily surrendered all to God (with fear), yet I prayed constantly that God would bless this new startup company. However the Owner/Investor became ill and the company was shut down. The lesson? God's promises may not apply right now, or to you specifically, though they are all true. In tithing, God promises, even challenges you, to tithe, saying, "I'll pour out such blessing on you that you will be overwhelmed." Yet from my perspective, I was not blessed 'earthly-wise'.

I was not totally broken down, but like shock treatment, it triggered additional disappointment and once again, forced the stretching and excercise of my faith in God's goodness, grace, and compassion. That's the part that hurts, the continuous discipline of excercise, for me it is literally like lifting weights.

As I continue my scheduled reading through Psalms, I am convinced that God continues to keep me in uncertain circumstances to increase my faith in His faithfulness, to gain greater confidence that I can depend on Him. I am learning to reconcile the many promises for deliverence and protection, with the fact that they do not apply to everyone, a mystery that can drive you mad as you seek God's salvation from troubles. We know bad things happen to good people all the time.

So I ask for all good things while surrendering all simultaneously. That, as David, I may see 'goodness in the land of the living' (blessing in this life), and for spiritual success as well, meaning that His will and purpose for my life be fulfilled. That, like Job, I may be restored and blessed twice as much, and have a great relationship with God; it never hurts to hope and ask!

As of today, He has not yet allowed me to be without a home, food, or clothing. For that alone, I am most thankful.
Wow, you'll need to keep posting what He says. I've never had the clear faith that fasting would get me 'better' answers or some really clear guidance. I've tried but can barely make it through one day. Keep posting on your fast!
I highly recommend you read, "Hunger for God" by John Piper. I guarantee it will change your life. Please read it all members!

Penny Bolton

Robert Shackelford said:
Wow, you'll need to keep posting what He says. I've never had the clear faith that fasting would get me 'better' answers or some really clear guidance. I've tried but can barely make it through one day. Keep posting on your fast!
In terms of fasting, what should I realistically expect from God in terms specific guidance for work? I just can't seem to break through in faith... believe that something specific, Him clearly speaking to me, will happen. I'm highly logical, so I'm seeking practical application, the process of fasting, especially examples of results.

I've been very, very frustrated with Him because He does not tell me exactly what to do. I've had 5 years now, ups/downs, in career. Please note I'm not ignoring the thousands of lessons, and major growth in knowing Him and His character. I'm just like anyone else, I just LONG for a little better life.

At 49, time is running out for any semblance of retirement / savings / security, I mean, God knows I need income and money to live, pay for health care, etc. More importantly is being sidelined, trying, really trying to just keep trusting in Him for some resolution and change of circumstances.
Hi Robert,

My understanding of fasting is to deny yourself of something that is a part of your life, so to speek.

This past holiday Easter season I fasted from caffiene. I wanted God to provide me guidance in the employement area. Over the last 3+ years I have endured my own Joseph pit. A 30 year family owned building company came to an end due to circumstances out of my control. I know God was in control, but I certainly wasn't. Anyway, back to the fasting. I had prayed during my fast that God would provide me guidance to choose one of 2 doors that had opened. One door presented itself a few months before Easter and the other during the 40 days. The first door was the one God wanted me to walk through, but I did not hear Him clear enough. God was working the timing out and once again "I" tried to rush things along and thought the second door was the one. Again this all took place over my 40 day fast. I took the 2 job. Over the next 3 days of employment several things accurred that seamed to be road blocks. Silly things like a gas card they gave me wouldn't work, to differant work vehicles with in 2 days, both with issues. At the end of the 3rd day I received a call from the 1st door employer asking if I would still be interested if a job opened up. On day 4 he called me back again and told me the guy he hired instead of me desided not to work for him. This was on a Friday. I met him the next day, but before I did I prayed to God that if this is where He wanted me to go, please make it clear for me. When I met the guy on Saturday, in the span of a 15 or 20 minute long conversation, he answered some of my questions I was going to ask him without me even asking the questions. When that occured, I knew it was God affirming that this is where I was to be. Lesson learned was that all along God was working behind the scenes and if I would have let go and trusted completely I would have not walked through the 2nd door first. This all came to conclusion at the end of my 40 day fast.
I know I kind of rambled a little. I to, like you, find it hard to hear His voice for direction. Sometimes, I think, He works not from the sound of His voice, but through His actions as He orchastrates His plan for each of us.
Hope some of this helps.

Jim

Robert Shackelford said:
In terms of fasting, what should I realistically expect from God in terms specific guidance for work? I just can't seem to break through in faith... believe that something specific, Him clearly speaking to me, will happen. I'm highly logical, so I'm seeking practical application, the process of fasting, especially examples of results.

I've been very, very frustrated with Him because He does not tell me exactly what to do. I've had 5 years now, ups/downs, in career. Please note I'm not ignoring the thousands of lessons, and major growth in knowing Him and His character. I'm just like anyone else, I just LONG for a little better life.

At 49, time is running out for any semblance of retirement / savings / security, I mean, God knows I need income and money to live, pay for health care, etc. More importantly is being sidelined, trying, really trying to just keep trusting in Him for some resolution and change of circumstances.

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