Have you ever put your hard-earned money in an investment that resulted in a partial loss or total failure?
Early in our marriage, Judy and I invested a large sum of money in a venture that we were sure to make a great return. Many of our friends were also convinced this was a money-maker, so literally hundreds of thousands of dollars were invested from people in the Grand Rapids area. All of us were excited about how this new opportunity could make life economically easier.
Then the bombshell exploded and the company went bankrupt, leaving each investor with nothing but a piece of paper with an empty promise.
Judy and I learned a great lesson: Do good research, don't follow the crowd, pray earnestly before a major investment decision, and be ready to lose money because investment has a positive and negative side.
On another occasion early in our marriage we were asked to attend a going-away party for a pastor friend and his wife. They had four children and had just completed a three-year furlough in the States after serving ten years in Russia as missionaries.
Their next assignment from Holy Spirit was to birth a new church in the Washington D.C. area. The need was great and these folks were the right people for the assignment.
We listened to their vision and the burden God had laid upon their hearts. Then came the time of confrontation and decision for us.
One of the leaders in the church we attended addressed the group and asked each of us to consider giving a sacrificial gift to help these folks get a jumpstart for their new ministry.
Both of us were not prepared to give toward this project, however, we each took a slip of paper and began to pray about what we could do. I then had an idea and I asked my wife to write down privately what she sensed God saying to her. If I was hearing right from Holy Spirit, then we would both write down the same thing on our paper.
We had great peace about what we wrote down. When we came together we each wrote down, "Give the car," we had just purchased a week prior!
Our old one was in need of repair so we bought a low-milage, used car to replace it. Little did we know we were purchasing the car for these two church planters.
This investment gave 30, 60 and 100-fold returns. The pastor drove that car for years and he, his wife, and family partnered with God to create a healthy and influential church in that needy area of our country.
We have always looked upon this event as an opportunity to invest in a good venture.
In 2016, I have focused on reading my past journals to review things God has revealed and taught me.
On April 18, 2013, this was my entry:
Today I want you to focus on Luke 13:1-10. The parable of the fruit tree that bore no fruit for three years is critical. The focus of this parable is bearing fruit in one mere year. Keith, time is zooming past and you must give your time to those who are serious about serving Me. Anyone where you have given your time for three years without bearing fruit should have only one mere year of your time and efforts. After four years, let them go and move on. Don't be afraid to pass by those who only want something from you. You are also called to fruitfulness.
This was a sobering world, because after too much time is given to people who are not serious about their spiritual growth.
Do the people you invest your time and efforts celebrate you or are they first takers, depleting you of your time, energy, key relationships and resources?
I share this journal entry with you because God wants a return on the investments we make in people to become disciples, not first converts. Make be some of you will have to make some hard decisions in whom you invest your time, resources and energy.
God has called us to fruitfulness.
By the way, fruitful people give back to those who are investors in their lives. Think about it.