One night, I sat up late talking with a friend. He was telling me about the "Blessing Line" and drawing it with his finger on the kitchen table.
"Here" he pointed "is the blessing line, where abundance flows and blessings rain down on you. When you start the see the reward for all your efforts...
But here, before you cross over the blessing line, are challenges and disappointments and obstacles. This is where you feel most tired and discouraged.
This", he said "is where most people give up. Right before they reach their blessing line."
Come to think of it, I too have been guilty of doing just that!
One example springs to mind clearly.
When I was 25, I started my own cleaning business. I planned and researched it for months. While I was still working at my day job, I began cleaning for a lady once a week, so that I would have a reference when I started looking for clients.
I planned that I would charge premium rates, give superb service and use only environmentally-friendly cleaning products.
When I felt I was ready, I accepted a voluntary redundancy from my job in accounts, and used the money to live on while I got my business off the ground.
I placed one ad on a free local classifieds site, and soon I had my first customers. I quoted what I thought was "good money" to me at the time. As promised, I gave excellent service. I did not leave the house until I knew for sure the skirting boards had been dusted and behind the toilet was spotless. The client may never have checked such things, but that was the standard I had set for myself.
After a short while, my customers began referring their friends and soon I was booked up. I was cleaning 3 houses per day, 5 days a week. It was tiring work, but I was earning a good income and I got into a really good routine where I could easily clean a 4bedroom, 2 bathroom house from top to bottom, in just over 2 hours.
Soon it was time to think about employing someone. The first lady did a trial run, and spent the entire 2 hours cleaning the kitchen counter, and then rang to tell me she had found another job. (Phew!)
The second was a family friend, who did quite a good job, although not quite the attention to detail I would have liked. Sometimes, when he wasn't looking, I went back and did something he missed. Alone, I cleaned 3 houses per day, but together we could only manage 5.
By the time I paid him at the end of the week, I was left with just a couple of hundred dollars. Even though I had all the extra responsibility and did all the after-hours work of cleaning the equipment, washing the microfiber cloths, meeting potential clients to give quotes, and doing the book-work.
Somehow I was working longer hours than ever and getting paid a pittance. I became so tired and run-down, I seemed to constantly have a cold. My son was only 2 yrs old at the time, and I barely saw him. My dream of running my own business had become a nightmare.
When I fell pregnant with my second son, it was such a relief to close the business and go back to my old job of getting paid by the hour and no after-hours stress.
I quit before I reached the blessing line.
It was obviously a winning business idea. I hadn't spent a cent on advertising, the customers were happy (several years later, I still had customers email me to ask if I was cleaning again), but somehow it all went wrong.
The truth is that I used the obstacles and challenges as an excuse to quit, rather than using them as a reason to go beyond my comfort zone. I was afraid to hire more staff or a manager, because I didn't know how to be a leader or bring up uncomfortable issues if they weren't performing properly (I could have learnt!). I didn't want to raise my prices to cover the cost of hiring others because I didn't know how to tell the customers (I could have found a way!).
I wanted to stay where I was comfortable, not realizing that my business could only grow and expand to the extent that I was willing to grow and expand, myself.
So, I quit when things got tough and I never saw the blessing line.
The cynic in us might wonder why, if God is so loving, does He make life so hard for us? Is he trying to find out if we are "deserving" enough?
I don't think that's the case at all.
Problems are not meant to discourage us, they're not meant to annoy or destroy us.
They are sent to grow us.
Problems are our teachers!
Let's face it, when life is comfortable, we have little desire or inclination to change. But when faced with a problem, we're forced to do something. We can turn and run, or we can use it as an opportunity to improve ourselves and our skills.
The choice is ours.
What about you? Have you ever quit before you reached your blessing line?
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