I recently discovered that two passages in the Bible create perfect bookends for my life. When I was a young boy, I was very strong in the Catholic faith. I asked for and received a Bible (which I still own) for Christmas when I was eight years old. Despite this, by the time I graduated from high school I had drifted from God. Twelve years later I would return to church (a protestant denomination) but wasn’t reconnecting with God.

A decade after that I would become driven by professional success. My false idols were more money, more fame and more respect. And I achieved much of it. What I didn’t realize at the time was that I actually didn’t achieve any of it: God blessed me with it all. Even when I cut corners and was less than ethical at times, God continued to increase the salary and the regional fame that came with a radio show. Though I have read it several times before, I found it jarring to reread this passage from Deuteronomy recently:

When the Lord your God brings you into the land He swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, to give you—a land with large, flourishing cities you did not build, houses filled with all kinds of good things you did not provide, wells you did not dig, and vineyards and olive groves you did not plant—then when you eat and are satisfied, be careful that you do not forget the Lord, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. Deuteronomy 6:10-12 (NIV)

When times are good, it’s easy to forget Who makes them good. When I was prosperous, I was far from God and never considered that anybody but me was responsible for my success. Beginning in 2016, after I came to Jesus, God began relieving me of all that prosperity as he moved me toward ministry. This brings us to the other bookend:

Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior. Habakkuk 3:17-18 (NIV)

Habakkuk envisions a devastated economy coming due to Israel’s disobedience to God. But he will rejoice and be joyful, come what may. My income in ministry is a fraction of what it was in the secular world in 2017. Yet, I can honestly say we don’t lie awake at night worrying about money.

When times are good, remember the Giver and give thanks. Remember the past faithfulness of the Giver when tough economic times come and rejoice and be faithful and trust that He will be faithful again.

— Pastor Jerry Bader

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