More than 30 years ago, on April 2, 1983, Janet and I incorporated our business here in Indiana. We had moved from Illinois and I had spent some time consulting for the State Department and other Washington institutions, including the Reagan White House. All that was over and Janet and I had to decide what to do next. It seemed that the only real option for us was to start a company here, so that is what we did.
We struggled mightily the first three years. I endured complications from a very difficult gall bladder surgery, we racked up business losses that were more than 6 figures and we had three young children at home. Kristin, the oldest, was 7, Jill was 4 and Andrew, our youngest, was not yet 2. Janet and I coped with quite a bit of pressure to make sure that we didn’t lose the business. And if it hadn’t been for a good friend of mine, we might have lost it all.
The fourth and fifth years we got healthier and we were even recognized, in our first eligible year, as an INC. 500 company, one of the 500 fastest growing privately help companies in the United States. We kept growing and eventually had more than 1000 employees during one calendar year. It didn’t stay like that for too long, but it was a good company for many years, affording us a livable wage, and then some, at a time when many companies were struggling. We were grateful.
Somewhere down the line, we started to look ahead at milestones – first it was 25 years in business – but that flew by without much more than a thought. I had gone to seminary by that time and I really thought I would end up with a church. Apparently, not the plan. I went back into the business world, always with an eye toward ministry. I still look at ministry opportunities but the main part of my life now is working with teams and trying to leverage better performance in the companies that I serve.
The point of all this is that on April 2, 2013, on Janet’s birthday, the company celebrated 30 years in business – and it came and went without a whisper. I didn’t even give it a thought. It’s only now, several weeks later, that I remembered that I wanted to write a post about this most important event. Then I forgot. I guess that it didn’t mean as much to me as I thought it did. It’s only when I look back on the past 30 years that I see how much our lives have changed, and how much the business has changed, during that time.
That’s the same way that it usually is with our Christian walk. When we look at things day by day, it doesn’t seem that we have moved that much. But when we stand back and compare where we are to where we began, we suddenly see the magnitude of the change. Hopefully, that brings thoughts of gratitude to mind as we reflect on the deepening of our relationship with Christ. And just like in the business world, we have up and downs in our relationship with the Father and His Son. Sometimes, we feel close to God and at other times, we look for Him to no avail and wonder why we feel so alone. But God doesn’t move away – we do. That’s why our spiritual disciplines are so important. They give us a chance to be focused on God and causes a thread of predictable behavior to run through our lives.
Sure – there are times when we are busy – we would say too busy – but we’re never too busy to take time out for God. And the divine peace that comes from spiritual discipline is something that is difficult to beat. Hopefully, during the course of your life, you will feel increasingly closer to God – more than you did when you first believed. Maybe not day by day, but when you look back over the journey you have travelled, you will see the distance you have come.
Another thing – the big milestones that you thought were so important will melt into the fabric of your life. The things you anticipated with such great excitement will pale in comparison to the rich, full life you will lead walking with the Lord day by day. The verse for tonight is so simple and so true. From Deut. 18:13, “Thou shalt be perfect with the LORD thy God.” That’s it. Regardless of what other issues you may have in your life, you will be perfect with the Lord. Period! My encouragement this evening is that God will walk beside you, carrying you if necessary, all the days of your life. My prayer is that you will cherish this most important relationship and will look back from time to time, seeing how far you have already travelled. Have a great day in the Lord, grace and peace…