BY: Jason Payne
E-MAIL ADDRESS: Jason@lifeassembly.com
BIBLE TEXT: Mark 4:19 (KJV): And the cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts of other things entering in, choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful. Mark 8:36 (KJV): For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?
PERSONAL REFLECTION: Being in business is about profit and loss and if a business does not stay in the green it probably will not last very long. I was self-employed for most of my life and it definitely had its ups and downs, but for the most part, I found myself to be savvy and successful in the construction industry. I am a people-person and was very good at making money. I worked hard and was driven to succeed, finding my identity and self-worth in my accomplishments and accumulations. I had forgotten who I was “in Christ,” and forgotten my first love (Revelation 2:4). More success brought more responsibility, which brought more stress, which caused me to lust after other things to cope with the cares of this world.
From the outside it looked like I had everything a man could possibly want, but I was battling a drug addiction and I was consumed with inner turmoil. Eventually, I was not able to hide it or control it and it became my master. My heart got hard. I exchanged the truth of God for a lie and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator (Romans 1:25).
From 2005 to 2012 I tried to live a double life that almost destroyed me. The Bible says in Matthew 6:24 “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.” Either God will be your master or you will be your own master. By 2012 I found myself broken relationally, spiritually, and financially. I was not living at home and my wife filed for divorce. I had hit rock bottom and felt destitute but God had a plan. I found myself at a place called Teen Challenge in Chattanooga, TN. I lived there for a year away from my wife, children, and the distractions of this world and became willing to let God have His way in my life.
While I was at Teen Challenge I told God that I did not care if I had to clean toilets when I came home. As long as I was in His house and His will I would do it! I knew that going back into construction was not a good idea. When I came home though I did not know what to do with myself. I wasn’t working and found myself with too much idle time. I knew God wanted me to be in ministry but I did not know what it would look like or how I would get there. One day I was praying and seeking God to speak to me. My phone rang and it was a person I knew who wanted me to look at a house to paint. So what do I do? I started questioning God and myself. Is this from you, Lord? Are you giving me a fresh start? Maybe this is just something I should do temporarily until something else comes along? So what do I do?
I talked myself into going back to doing the thing that was familiar to me. I did the very thing Peter did in John 21 when he went back to fishing after following Jesus for 3 and a half years. Why? He did not know what else to do. So for the next year I found myself getting busy, getting big too fast, in a bad environment, and I began to struggle with some of the same issues I had before. However, the difference for me during that time was that I could see the signs and recognized that I was starting to follow the same old pattern (Romans 12:2). So I quit! I was willing to give it all up to do what I felt was right and be obedient to the Lord. No amount of money was worth my sobriety or my family!
You may be asking what happened next. Well, a few weeks later a close friend of mine asked me if I had ever thought about working at the church. I said, “Yes, all the time, but I don’t know how that would happen.” Well, guess what? A few weeks later Life Assembly asked if I would be interested in being their facilities pastor. Can I tell you that when they asked me I could not contain myself emotionally because I knew it was an answered prayer from the Lord?
You may ask why would I give up a lucrative paint business just to clean toilets at a church? I will tell you why! Because I knew it was an open door and opportunity to experience the fullness of God’s grace and blessings. Not for my glory, but for His! See, this time I was willing to give up everything to be His disciple (Luke 14:33). The man I used to be was willing to give up everything for selfish ambition and vein conceit, never humble and never thinking of others before myself (Philippians 2:3). Am I saying that I now do everything right? That I am always humble? That I don’t struggle? Absolutely not! But what I can tell you is this: The love and grace that I have been shown — not only from God, but from my wife, my family, and my friends — has made me want to share that same love and grace to others!
PRAYER: Dear Heavenly Father, I pray that we would not let the cares of this world consume us or the lusts of the things of this world be more important than You. God, I pray that everyone would experience your grace in a way that transforms — a grace that we don’t take for granted, or something we feel like we have to do, but a grace that just IS! A grace that causes us to become fruitful and free!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
I have been married to my beautiful wife, Christy, for 19 years. We have 2 amazing children: Elijah and Kayla. I am the facilities manager at Life Assembly and just received my Bachelor’s Degree in Christian Counseling. I enjoy doing missionary work, playing basketball, boating, watching Alabama football, and eating hot donuts!