Financial Rewards

Something very good has happened to our community. If you haven't been following along with my blog, in a nutshell... we sold some land and after over a decade of financial stress, we've suddenly paid off our mortgage. The benefits of this abound, one of them being that I suddenly don't have to wonder if I'm going to get my next paycheck. Theories abound as to why this has happened to us. As curious, existential, human beings we're always trying to figure out the cause and effect of life. We're always trying to find the secret to success (in order to secure it) and the formula for failure (in order to prevent it). Some of the theories are:
  1. We are being rewarded for our perseverance. I couldn't tell you how many times we nearly threw in the towel but decided to give it one more Sunday, one more month. Almost everybody else concluded we were dead in the water and would never recover from such devastation. And frequently I felt that way. However, eleven years later we are still going... by the skin of our teeth... when out of the blue we are approached by a company offering us a proposal to buy land that we couldn't refuse. Overnight, we might conclude, our perseverance paid off.
  2. Several years after the split in 1997, we made a risky financial decision to give away to charity and other struggling churches 10% of whatever income we made. We did this as a step of trust. We were going to be generous no matter what the cost, even if it meant not paying me. Some believe that it is because of our financial sacrifice that we are being rewarded financially.
  3. The split in 1997 was horrendous and I would never want to experience that again. It was nasty and cruel and devastating. We had to hold to a difficult decision that cost us almost everything. We felt that we were doing the right thing, in spite of the consequences. We became the laughingstock, the reproach of almost all of our neighbors. Now, some might believe that this is our vindication, the final proof that we were right all along and that we are finally being exonerated in everyone's eyes.
  4. I feel one of the issues that caused so many people to get upset and split away from us was because I was liberal in my treatment of others. For those who were very conservative and perhaps more religious saw this as a libertine... an unfortunate and dangerous thing. It was the equivalent of endorsing sin. Others saw my approach as liberating, and finally found a community in which they could discover and express their unique authenticity. Some might believe that this sudden financial release is a public endorsement of who we are and what we are about.
I could go on. I don't know if any one of the above "causes" brought about the "effect" we are enjoying now. In fact, we just don't know, can't know, and mustn't know. We don't even know if there is a cause and effect, a connection between something we do and a result. This is one of the greatest mysteries of life, that we can neither know our deepest motives nor the guarantee of the intended result. No one knows the heart of people and what goes on in our inner thoughts, not even ourselves. We would love to believe that if we do this, that will happen. We would be thrilled if The Secret were true. But it isn't! We have no idea if this financial development in our community is because of any value we possess, any good we've done, or whether it is just an act of mercy, a gracious move of deliverance from years of stress, struggle and sacrifice. Some would question even that. This kind of cause and effect reasoning is inevitable in our minds but futile. The opposite could be true: that we suffered for over a decade because of a bad decision we made in 1997 and that we were being justly punished for it. And now that the time of our judgment was up, we are finally released. Again, we just don't know. We simply have to humbly acknowledge that in spite of our good, we may suffer, and in spite of our evil, we may live abundantly. In any case, I have learned that at all times the proper posture is the  embracing of both repentance and gratitude, dying and living, sorrow and rejoicing.

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