Unexpected Challenges – Unexpected Blessings
A new job! A new home! A new start in a new place! I experienced all of these wonderful and exciting things recently and it has been a tremendous blessing. But like all major changes, I have experienced both expected and unexpected stresses. But because I knew this transition was coming, I had been working on a strategy to prepare for this transition for more than a year. And thank God, because I needed the extra financial padding that I had included in the plan for those unexpected stresses.
Part of my plan included finding a home at a reasonable cost so I could pay off some bills. I was thrilled to find a nice home in a cool neighborhood that meets my needs and provides some financial margin. Part of the deal was buying the house in “as is” condition, so I knew I needed to be prepared for the unexpected. I have renovated other homes and could tell the property was in good condition overall. But as any home buyer understands, you really don’t know the actual condition until the home inspection.
So when we turned on the water, we found several pipes had burst during the winter. This was an unexpected expense leading to added stress. But it was not overwhelming. The rest of the house was solid – and as I said, I had a strategic plan.
Knowing I would be moving after my residency, I took on a couple extra teaching jobs on the side so that I would have extra cash for the move. This little bit of planning and extra work paid off when I was able to easily pay for these plumbing repairs – in addition to the other expenses of a major move.
There are some principles I’ve learned that have been helpful in responding to both the expected, and the unexpected expenses that arise in life.
Use what is in your hand: When God called Moses to lead the children of Israel out of Egypt, he was understandably insecure. When Moses asked how he would lead the people, God answered – “What is in your hand?” As a shepherd, Moses carried a staff. God worked through that tool to demonstrate his power to Pharaoh. He will do the same with our talent, education, and experience if we allow him through surrender, prayer, strategic thinking, and hard work.
Keep it simple: In this move I have purposely simplified. My long-term goals allow for expansion, but at this juncture I needed to contract for a time in order to position myself to expand in the future.
Learn to love to do the things you must do: My mother taught me this important concept. There are times when we have to bite the bullet and do the hard work before us. Sometime that means sacrifice some of rest or leisure. But if we are wise in our planning and our work, this sacrifice can often reap significant benefits. The writer of Proverbs declares: “A little extra sleep, a little more slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest – then poverty will pounce on you like a bandit; scarcity will attack you like an armed robber.” (Prov. 6:10-11, NLT) I have noticed that many successful people have two things in common – they are focused on their objective, and they work hard to achieve it. My kids and I have a saying that we call the von Buseck motto: “Work hard; play hard; pray hard.” I believe this is a recipe for a fulfilling and fruitful life.
Have more than one canoe: Trusting in one job to meet all your needs is risky business. I was unexpectedly laid off two years ago, but because I had developed my teaching, writing and speaking businesses, I had cash flow to cover my bills even though I didn’t have a traditional full-time job.
Shop around: Take the time to find deals. It may take a little extra effort, but shopping for the best value for the money pays big dividends. It is worth it to buy quality, even if it costs a little more. But when shopping for that quality product, spend a little extra time looking for a sale or a deal.
Be willing to buy used: Years ago a friend taught me the wisdom of buying gently used cars instead of brand new vehicles off the lot. Many times you can save a significant amount of money, while having a vehicle in like-new condition. Watch for “certified used cars” that come with a decent warranty if you can.
Be a giver: You cannot outgive God. As you give to the local church and to Kingdom causes God promises to bless you. And remember, your giving doesn’t have to always be financial. God also blesses the gift of your talent and of your time.
Think Kingdom – and think eternally: There is nothing wrong with having financial and material success in this life, but always remember, they do not follow a hearse with a u-haul full of your stuff. Jesus taught his disciples, “Store your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal.” I have experienced the amazing blessing of sowing and reaping as I took seriously Jesus call to “seek first the Kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” (Matt. 6:33, ESV) Financial challenges come to us unexpectedly in this life – but they are not unexpected to God. If we follow the admonition of the psalmist to “delight in the law of the Lord and meditate on it day and night”, He will be faithful to his promise that we will be “like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields fruit in season, whose leaf does not wither – and in whatever we do we will prosper.” (Ps 1:2-3 paraphrased)
Dr. Craig von Buseck is a writer, speaker, and communication professional. His books include “Nobody Knows: The Harry T. Burleigh Story” and “Praying the News”.