A story of God teaching through trials.
Today, March 31st, 2017, my wife Cassandra and I will close on our house. This in itself probably isn't "story worthy", but the journey to this point is why I chose to share.
It began in January 2009. I had a fairly high paying job, we were about two months from having our third child, living in a big new house, driving nice cars, and kids attending a private Christian school. Most would say we were "living the dream". Sure we were living at or slightly beyond our means, but we thought we had everything we needed. God had truly blessed us.
Then in late January 2009, I was laid off. Since Cassandra was only working part time at our kids' school, we really had no income. I had been out of work before, so I didn't really panic right away. After about three months of unemployment, I began to worry. We had been given a forbearance on our mortgage, so we weren't having to pay that. We were now on food stamps, so food was okay but our other bill collectors weren't as forgiving. After ten months of no job, I decided to take a position at a Taco Bell. At least two to three times per week, people would ask me, "You have two degrees from Texas A&M... Why are you working at Taco Bell?"
We were way behind on most bills, and unemployment wasn't cutting it. We now had three children, including an eight month old baby. As soon as I gained employment at Taco Bell, the mortgage company contacted us about resuming mortgage payments. Since we hadn't paid in ten months, they rolled the interest accrued onto our balance and jumped our payments by $700 a month. We could now no longer afford the house. We were told we would be able to do a short sale on the house. Unfortunately, once we found a buyer, the bank changed their minds and foreclosed on us. We would be homeless in thirty days.
Throughout all this, we kept our faith in God to provide but personally I kept asking why He was putting me through this. Why wouldn't God allow me to provide for my family? Why would He take everything I had worked so hard for away from us? Why were we being punished?
For a full year, I worked at Taco Bell. I worked the drive-thru, the late shifts, weekends, holidays, birthdays, etc. Until one day it came to me, pride was my issue. God was using all this to teach me about pride. I had taken credit for all that we had. I had put God in a box – limited what He was responsible for and for what belonged to Him. I began to ask for forgiveness in this and for Him to cleanse me of my pride. Within a week or two of this, I was offered an executive position with a great company, making more money than I'd ever made before. We had lost our house, a car, and our combined credit scores had to be in the negative numbers, but we had drawn closer to God and each other through this. He began the restoration process.
That is why this closing is such a big deal. We have a renewed focus on Christ and His role in our lives. He didn't give us back our old life, He gave us a new one. He gave us a better one where He is the focus and He gets the glory.