I accepted Christ as an 8-year-old (April of 1981 to be exact) but my earliest thoughts that I can recall were an awareness that there is a God in Heaven who loves me, stays with me and looks out for me.

For much of those past 29 years, I was content with a watered-down version of what it means to walk with Christ. All that changed when our finances fell apart about six years ago. Like many watered-down Christians, that was when I fell on my knees, turned  back to my Sunday School Jesus and said, “Okay, I give up! Please help me! Please fix this!”

But instead of swooping down like some financial Superman, Jesus put me to work. He opened doors for me to go into ministry and help other people clean up their financial mess. He blessed me with the opportunity to write a book about it. And He made me watch as he swooped down, like Superman, and provided financial miracle after miracle for the families I was pastoring.

But… not for me.

Every dollar in debt we’ve paid off has felt like three. It’s been a long, painful, embarrassing, slogging process. Like running through the stickiest mud while carrying a cinder block. Imagine doing that while watching hundreds of other people gallop down a clean sidewalk. It hurt.

About two years ago, I got a little ticked off at God that I wasn’t on the sidewalk. Oh, I kept doing what I do and I kept a big smile on my face, but every time one of the great families I’m blessed to pastor had some monumental breakthrough, part of my spirit screamed in pain.

– I saw a couple with more than a million dollars in debt become debt free in a matter of weeks.

– I saw a family fall on their knees before God and beg for a miracle for their debt and inherit $100,000 from a relative they never even knew existed.

– I saw a man with a crushing tax problem get miraculous mercy from the IRS, and all he did was pray and then make a phone call.

– I celebrated with a friend whose husband not only finally found work after a year of searching, he got a windfall from a pension he didn’t even know he had.

– And I’ve seen hundreds of families with even more credit card debt than we had eliminate their debts in less time than it took us just to get traction.

Why? Why? Why?

I heard a story recently that went something like this: God pointed to a large boulder and told a man, “Try to move that boulder.” Day after day the man pushed and shoved at that boulder and it never budged an inch. After a couple of years of this the man finally gave up. Frustrated, he sat down and leaned against the boulder and said, “It’s impossible! God, why would you tell me to move this boulder? I can’t! I’m done! I give up!” God replied, “I didn’t tell you to move the boulder, I told you to try to move it. And you obeyed. And look at you now. Your back and arms are muscular and strong. Your body is lean and tanned. And you know every crack and crevice of the boulder. Now watch Me move it.” God moved the boulder and charged the man with the responsibility of building bridges out of smaller rocks, which of course he could do with no effort at all with his newly formed muscles, strong back and arms.

This process, for me, was clearly not meant to be easy. When it comes to a boulder of debt, I know every crack and crevice. I know how it feels. I know how heavy it is. I know what it’s like to push and push and still the boulder doesn’t budge.

I know how the fights start. I know how your stomach sinks when the phone rings and how much trouble you’ll go to so your friends don’t find out. I know what it’s like to sort through a pile of bills and try to decide which ones to pay and which ones to set aside for now. It’s a miserable existence and the worst thing I’ve ever gone through and hope I will ever go through. But it’s given me the ability to empathize with others in similar situations and more importantly, help them navigate their own boulders. It’s given me humility and transparency, two things I certainly did not have six years ago. It’s given me compassion, depth and perspective.

And it has taken my watered-down faith in a Sunday School Jesus and replaced it with a strong relationship with the Father, Son and Holy Spirit who are more powerful, more involved and more aware than I ever imagined.

Through every struggle, challenge and trial, God has shown Himself faithful to us, even as we’ve continued to push on the boulder. When you pray and God responds, you learn how to lean on Him when things are beyond your control in a way that you just can’t absorb third-hand in church. Your faith becomes real. It becomes a working part of your life. It becomes a necessary function of who you are, like an arm, a leg or your brain.

You can’t NOT lean on God because you’ve seen him move those boulders that you could never budge.

What I missed in those “why, why, why?” moments is that while God doesn’t always resolve our concerns immediately, He always, always immediately responds. Some people get a speedy miracle, but some of us will have some boulders that He wants us to try to shove for awhile. And while we’re shoving, God is blessing us with opportunities, relationships, experiences and other miracles that strengthen our muscles and build our faith.

And if you’ll do it, you’ll be blessed in ways you cannot imagine, through experiences and blessings that it never even occurred to you to ask for. And when it is time, God will say, “Okay, my child. Now watch Me move it.”

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