I had no desire to end up broke again. But painful experience had taught me that my earnest simple faith appeared, once more, to be on a collision course with the stark realities of life.
I recalled the disastrous summer a year before. With high hopes I had set out to become a student literature evangelist. My strong but simple faith assured me that I would win my part of the world for Christ. I lasted three weeks.
The first two weeks my partner and I were stopped twice by the police and asked what we were selling. The incidents were unnerving. The third week we were escorted to the police station and interrogated by the police chief. We caved. Reasoning that we had planned to sell only for the first half of the summer anyway, we opted for the easy way out and took an early “retirement.”
Now, a year later, the same fervent conviction to answer the call to sell religious books had come over me again for the summer ahead. Fresh in my memory, however, was the image of the big, burly police chief who had so thoroughly intimidated me the summer before. Weighing more on my father, however, was the hard fact that the sales I had completed during those doleful three weeks hadn’t even covered the expense for gas.
Despite these unfavorable indications, I enrolled in the training class. What a new perspective! The training was different and much more thorough than the year before. Things were looking up.
The day before I was to start my second attempt as a student literature evangelist, Dad decided to tell me that doing the same thing again was foolish. So he informed me that he was putting his foot down, and I would not be leaving. I had to find a job that made some money.
I was crushed. I had had such sincere motives. So many doors had seemingly opened. That evening my prayer was one of confusion and resignation. I thought I had done my best. I had believed I was responding to the Lord’s invitation. I had been exercising the kind of faith I thought He wanted from me, even in the face of a hard experience from the summer before. Now the door was closed. The next day I’d start looking for another job.
As I was dressing early the next morning I heard the doorbell. I heard voices and was surprised at the early visit. Soon I heard Dad call me. To my great surprise, I saw the publishing director. He had come to see if he could do anything so I would be able to canvass that summer. I was flabbergasted at what Dad told me.
“Mr. Hansen,” he said, “has given me his word to guarantee a base income for you out of his own pocket. You may go on one condition. You must put in your hours every week,” he said sternly.
Someone believed in me. In a very real sense I had to go for broke. No matter what happened, I had to answer this opportunity honestly. My faith took on a new focus—a focus that included not only the high-minded and appropriate desire to witness but a firm commitment to do what was necessary to actually sell books.
My father’s wise insistence for me to be financially accountable, linked with Mr. Hansen’s belief in me, made all the difference that summer. Remarkable, providential, faith-building events occurred during those weeks. And Mr. Hansen didn’t have to pay anything out of his pocket.
That summer I learned that stewardship is more than money. It is a lifestyle that includes both faith and accountability.
“Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life” (James 1:12, NIV).
By Larry R. Evans
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